CRAWFORD | Check please! Louisville cashes out Kennesaw State 94-57
The University of Louisville basketball team used its offense to overpower Kennesaw State 94-57, but Cardinals' coach Rick Pitino said that soon his team will need to start winning with defense as the schedule gets tougher.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Another night, another check for a fledgling athletic department.
On Wednesday at the KFC Yum! Center, the No. 19-ranked University of Louisville basketball team cashed out Kennesaw State 94-57.
With a game this lopsided, they should validate parking. It was like watching a monster truck run over a puppy. And then watching Matz Stockman come out and stomp that puppy.(1) And dunk on him.
It was the kind of game Louisville coach Rick Pitino watched while sitting on the sideline, shouting instructions. His time on his feet, or stamping them, was fleeting, especially coaching against an old college teammate, Al Skinner, formerly coach at Boston College and elsewhere.(2)
“We are in need of some good competition,” Pitino said as he walked into his postgame news conference. “. . . It’s not any fun for you to watch; it’s not any fun, these lopsided victories. But, that being said, this team, with all new players, it’s good to have these games to pick up things and work on things, because the competition that lies ahead is immense. There are going to be a lot of one-point and two-point games coming up.”
If nothing else, the crowd was treated to some highlight-reel dunks by Donovan Mitchell, some sparkling lobs from Quentin Snider, and another hot shooting display by the Cardinals, who shot better than 50 percent for the eighth time this season — matching the number of times they did it all of last season.(3)
There were times last season the Cardinals didn’t shoot 50 percent in warm-ups. Heck, there were nights they didn’t shoot 50 percent in the layup line.
So this team has the ability to beat inferior teams with its offense. The players know it; the coaches know it. What Pitino is trying to impress upon his players is that those days will soon be over.
Wednesday night, Pitino played match-up zone on every possession. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty. The young players are struggling with the assignments.
“We tried to play all zone tonight. You can see that we’re not where we were last year,” Pitino said. “Donovan’s very confused. Ray (Spalding) is very confused. Jaylen (Johnson is confused) We’ll just keep working on it. It’s good experience in that regard. . . . We’re going to be 85 percent man (defense) this year. . . . We’re still getting beat, Q got beat too much off the bounce. We’ve got to shore that up.”
The Cardinals also need to get well. Damion Lee, who finished with 18 points, tweaked an injured heel and likely will miss a practice or two, Pitino said.
Deng Adel told me after the game that he’s now running on his heeling knee ligament, and doing lateral slides. He said he’ll try to get in a session of individual instruction, maybe two, this week. If he feels good, he’ll at least be in uniform for Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky. But he’s not likely to play until next week.
“I’ve never had any kind of injury,” Adel said. “So I’ve been talking to the guys. Damion has had a lot of advice for me, because he’s had experience with that. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, get a feel for what I can give the team when I get back.”
Anas Mahmoud sprained an ankle in practice and likely won’t return for Saturday’s game. In his absence, Ray Spalding got his second start of the season but had little impact — he finished with 0 points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.
In addition to Lee’s scoring, the Cards got 16 points on 8 of 10 shooting from Chinanu Onuaku, and 13 from Trey Lewis. Mitchell had 10, and Snider had 9 points and 8 assists.
The Cards’ 40 field goals were the most they had made in a game since 2010. Pitino just knows there’s a danger of forgetting the reality that, in most games, offense won’t be enough.
“Offensively, we’re a dangerous team, so tonight what I didn’t like is we tried to win with offense,” Pitino said. “And we did. But I would like to see us play a better matchup zone than we did tonight.”
The Cards are back at it on Saturday, when Western Kentucky visits the KFC Yum! Center.
(1) The Matz Stockman line comes courtesy of WLKY’s Natalie Grise, who suggested it when I was trying out column leads in the press room, desperately grasping at any usable scrap for this column.
(2) I once rode on a private plane with Pitino and Skinner, then the coach at BC, from the Nike camp in Indianapolis to the ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., just because Pitino offered me a lift. I was a young beat reporter, and time with the coach was a bonus. Pitino was going to New Jersey to watch Sebastian Telfair, and to figure out how to keep another young point guard, Rajon Rondo, from committing too quickly to scare Telfair off. Everyone knows how that turned out. Telfair wound up committing. Rondo wound up at Kentucky. And adidas wound up luring Telfair into the NBA Draft with a big endorsement deal.
(3) Now shooting 52.5 percent as a team, Louisville should crash the top 5 in national field goal percentage in the next listing. The Cardinals also rank No. 1 in 10 current computer polls.
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