Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cup O' Jones : Facial Edition

Although there were a few tense moments, the Cards looked rather impressive at times in a 14-point victory over USF Wednesday night. The Cards pretty much used their superior talent to overpower and outlast a young and talented Bulls team. It was the Cards' first victory in a BIG EAST opener in 5 seasons. Cards 71 Bulls 57.

- Earl Clark was back to his old self scoring 22 points and grabbing 9 boards. As laid-back and chill as Clark seems in interviews, he sure does play with a lot of emotion and fire when motivated. As Trevor pointed out before the game, Clark was due for a big output. You could see how distraught he was in the waning moments of the UK game and figured he would make it a point to atone for his bad outing quickly. He took a few bad shots from the outside, but I think he found his spot - in or around the corner - where he hit 2 of his 3 triples. As he left the court smiling, the whole bench was giving him love as they knew the end of the UK game was eating at him. Another loyal reader suggested the Clark plays better on neutral sites and/or on the road because he is away from all the distractions that surround him in Louisville. If he continues this trend n those type of games then we might have something. USF coach Stan Heath added this on E5:
"I saw him in the Kentucky game and figured he would come out pretty determined. His ability to hurt us, driving inside and also with 3-point shooting, was a tough matchup for our team."
-T-Will had 4 points on only 3 shots, 5 boards and 5 assists. Not too much, but he doesn't care as long as that W is put on the board. He did spark a run with a serious facial job on Bulls' center Alex Rivas. I felt sorry for the guy. He's going to be all over this and every other Card site for years with the picture to the left. Maybe next time he should open his eyes when trying to block #1. T-Will played his least amount of minutes all year (21) after being forced to sit most of the first half with foul trouble.

- Pitino got to test his depth on the road playing Reggie Delk and Terrence Jennings 16 and 17 minutes respectively. Both played pretty well. Delk showed good passing within the offensive sets and knocked down a couple shots. Jennings is looking less and less lost every time he gets in the game and did a great job altering shots on the defensive end. both were expected to have bigger roles this season, so we'll see what this new found playing time brings.

- Coach P was looking for better passing and less "one-on-one" and by my view the Cards succeeded. They were making the extra pass for the open shot, running the offense well, and playing as team. I think the next step to becoming a contender is not getting complacent with a lead. The Cards led against UK by 11 and let it slip away and although most of the starters were sitting, they let USF go on a 10-0 run at the end of the game looking very sloppy in the process.

- The team has shied away from throwing it into Samardo ever since the 2 game stretch (Western, Ole Miss) where he struggled mightily. Samuels has gotten very few opportunities to regain trust in the last few games. When given the chance, he has shown off a few electric post moves. Only 5 shot attempts tonight and less than that against UK. It's time for the team to start looking to the big guy more often and let him get into the flow of the game.

- I've not been able to get a read on who Coach Pitino is going to play in what situations. George Goode had a hell of a game against UK and played only one minute tonight. In turn, Reggie Delk played ZERO minutes against UK and played 16 tonight. However, Goode's lack of time may be due to a stress fracture that has been bothering him lately. Not doubting the coach, just wondering if he is going to find a solid, consistent rotation at any point this season.

- Our 4 main guards (Sosa, Jerry, Knowles and McGee) played very well tonight and are beginning to seem interchangeable. all combinations of the 4 seem to work fairly well in different ways. Smith had a bad shooting night but made up for it on D. Sosa kept riding the the wave of his UK shot, playing within himself. PK took good shots and stayed consistent and McGee knocked down his free throws. As we all know, as good as T-Will, Clark and Mardo are, the team will only go as far as these guys take them.

- Good start to the BIG EAST campaign. As Pitino said Tuesday, It's a "death march" that only gets tougher as the season progresses. Off to Philly for #17 'Nova on Saturday. Hopefully we won't have a UK fan inspect our plane this time and we can actually have a normal flight.

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