CRAWFORD | Louisville at Boston College: Five things to watch
Stats and storylines for Louisville's game at Boston College Saturday, from WDRB's Eric Crawford.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino will return to his old NBA stomping grounds when his No. 6-ranked Cardinals visit Boston College at 3 p.m. Saturday, and the team is on an NBA-style road trip, with just one day off before facing No. 9 Virginia on Monday in Charlottesville.
The Cardinals, Pitino said, will play both games without starting point guard Quentin Snider, who is still sidelined by a strained hip flexor. Pitino said Snider is possible for next weekend's home game against Miami, but that his most recent test still don't show sufficient healing to play him.
In the meantime, his team continues to improve. Boston College is just 2-8 in the league, but has played many of the ACC's better teams close. Louisville is fourth in the ACC and a game and a half out of first, but needs the road win at BC, especially, to keep pace.
A few things to note:
1). CARDS DOUBLED UP PREPARATION. With two games in such quick succession, and one of them against a Virginia team that has won five of six against Louisville and been the Cards' "kryptonite," according to Pitino, after their latest loss to the Cavaliers, the coach acknowledged to trying to prepare for both Boston College and Virginia simultaneously.
"What you try to do without pointing it out too much to the players is to, at the end of the last two segments of, say an eight-segment practice, is to go over what the other team will do," Pitino said. "I think players figure it out, but you have to do it that way sometimes because the day before games you've got to be real careful, not only with your legs, but that you don't get anyone hurt in that situation. So we're prepared for both of these games going into it. Teams like Boston College and Wake Forest, one thing they bring to the table is unbelievable three-point shooting and we've got to be very careful that we take care of business defending the three-point line. They're also good at putting it on the floor to create easy shots that lead to three-point shots if they don't get an easy shot."
2). WATCH FOR THE PRESS. Louisville hasn't been an outstanding pressing team this season, but does generate a fair number of turnovers. Boston College, however, turns it over like few teams in the Power 5. They turn it over on a whopping 21 percent of their possessions. Against full-court presses, that number jumps to 28.7 percent. In their press offense, they have scored on just eight percent of their possessions this season, but that also accounts for less than eight percent of their possessions this season. More often, BC will try to break the press, then get into its half-court offense.
For Louisville, steals against the press will mean finishing in transition, something they have not done all that well this season. In fact, the Cardinals are scoring on just 43.6 percent of their transition opportunities. Statistically, in fact, transition has been no better than just setting up in the half court for Louisville (which is scoring on 43.3 percent of its half-court possessions).
Louisville's press offense, by the way, has been nothing to write home about either, and I'm surprised more teams haven't cranked up the pressure in Snider's absence. Louisville is scoring on just 37.2 percent of its press offense possessions.
3). BUZZER BEATERS. What Boston College does well is shoot the three-pointer. They're scoring 38.2 percent of their points from beyond the arc (47th in the nation). But part of that is because they're a below average post-up team.
The Eagles are good at beating the shot clock with baskets. With four seconds or less left on the shot clock, they are shooting an adjusted field goal percentage of 51.5 percent, which is among the top 10 percent in the nation.
4). HOT HANDS. Over the last nine games, Donovan Mitchell has averaged 19.6 points 4.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.9 steals and made 30-of-65 three-pointers (.462).
Mangok Mathiang has averaged 12.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and shot 68 percent from the field over the last four games, scoring nine or more points in each game. He scored 13 points, matched a career-best with 13 rebounds and blocked two shots at Florida State for his first double-double of the season and second of his career.
In winning six of its last seven games, the Cardinals have averaged 82.7 points, shot 48.2 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from the three-point line (57-of-130) and limited its opponents to 38.2 percent accuracy from the field and allowed an average of 63.3 points.
5). EAGLES TO WATCH. Boston College is led by sophomore guard Jerome Robinson, who is fourth in the ACC in scoring at 19.7 points per game, fourth in steals (1.65 per game) and seventh in minutes played (34 per game). He has scored 20 or more points in 12 games this season. Sophomore A.J. Turner leads the ACC in assist/turnover ratio (3.54; 11th in the nation). The Eagles get 13.3 points per game from freshman guard Ky Bowman.
Louisville has won three straight over Boston College, and is a 14-point favorite Saturday.
6). BONUS NOTE. Pitino coached in Boston with both Boston University and the Boston Celtics, and will have a number of friends in attendance at Saturday's game. The Cardinals will hold their game-day walk-through at Boston U. But Pitino wasn't overly sentimental when asked about his time there.
"I remember mostly personal friends and family, because I coached at BU or we’ll walk through at BU," he said. "But it’s 16 years since I’ve been with the Celtics and 30-plus years since I’ve been with Boston so, you know, it’s just family and friends. I have a lot of friends who are going to be at the game."
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