At one time I used to think Mike Davis was a pretty solid coach. Actually, I still do but UAB is a dumpster fire right now...suspended players, unhappy players, etc. The vision that UAB had that Davis was going to come in and immediately bring an upper echelon of players (maybe a few from IU) has never really happened. If nothing else Louisville fans need to hold onto the memory of Davis raising his arms in the air as Darth Vaden burned UK last year...but before we get into today's wide array of games, this is courtesy of RickPitino.com ...just in case you haven't read it.
Ok fans, it’s very disappointing but do not get discouraged. That game was not the real Louisville. I put our team in a difficult situation. Little time to prepare, little time to rest. We arrived at 5:00 a.m. eastern standard time. No bus for 45 minutes. We finally got to bed between 6:30 and 7:00am. Bus ride to practice was 1 hour due to Friday traffic. Minnesota was better and deserved the victory. They had nine days of preparation and out played us at both ends.
Recently Tom Crean texted me about our team last year, pointing out that we were the best quick passing team in the country. He was on the money. That is precisely our weakness this year. Too much dribbling, that is our number one problem. We will cure it by UAB. We need ball movement which leads to player movement. Defensively we played our poorest game. Give Minnesota the credit for creating good shots in their offense. We fouled too much and did not move our feet. We must develop Goode and Jennings at a quicker pace. Both players are struggling picking up the fundamentals. It will get done.
We have been down this road before. This time it will be more difficult. But I have confidence in our veterans and team. We have three crucial games coming up before the start of the Big East conference. All three are significantly better than any team we have faced. With a strong dose of humility added to our basketball team, our improvement will happen at a rapid pace. I am looking forward to this unlimited time to work on improving our team. There will be no time restraints and a lot of hours logged by our team in the next two weeks.
Well, that's what Pitino's been saying and honestly I couldn't agree more.
There are many things that are now obvious with this team. We're actually finding out who this team is...that's why a game like today is so big. Are we simply going to go through the motions and play like the last 2 games? OR are we going to come out fast and knock UAB off the feet? If we do, will we have long scoring lapses where we look very pedestrian? Here are some areas where improvement is vital.
1. Quick Passing - I agree with Pitino in this facet. This team dribbles...a lot! And that isn't good giving McGee and Sosa look very lost. I think today you see a lot of Knowles and Jerry Smith. It's show up or shut up time for our guards...but of course we've heard all of this before.
2. Freshmen integration/development is lagging (and that's an understatment). Not only with Jennings but Swop isn't getting many good touches. Jennings rarely gets touches. Samuels is getting blocked by point guards and can't finish anything around the basket. Today, on December 27, 2008, I'm praying Samuels resembles nothing like Caracter....I'm just saying. Missed layups, weak around the basket, turnover prone...it's something to watch.
3.Attitude. The Courier-Journal had a good story earlier this week about the team's attitude. Do you feel like watching these early season games, whether a win or a loss, that the team feels it should be given a win because at one point they were preseason top 5 and have many capable athletes. This team needs ANGST. They need Earl Clark playing mean, Samuels finishing around the basket and drawing fouls, TWill running the show, Smith being mean on defense and spotting up, and something from the PG position. But, of course, this all comes back to attitude. I'll be interested to see if we're cocky, hungry, or apathetic today.
4. Samuels FACTOR. Let's face it, college basketball has changed. I know freshmen are freshmen but also we need to face the fact that we NEED Samuels. He isn't simply just another good player on our very deep team. He needs to be our first or second leading scorer, top rebounder, and one of our better passers. Right now he's struggling to finish, bringing the ball below his waist and losing it, and letting much smaller guys score on him on defense. I think, whether he would admit it or not, Pitino had his fingers crossed this season because he knew he would have to rely on a true freshmen....enter Samardo Samuels. Today I want to see Samuels have about 20-10 with some nice moves around the basket, solid at the line, but most importantly protect the ball.
**Tomorrow I'll be breaking down the NFL...sorry Rob, it looks as if my GMEN aren't going to be helping your playoff chances...I'm very sorry.
p.s...Tom Crean texted Ricky P...I thought the two had some bad blood?