Monday, January 5, 2009
Posted by Rob Jones
Jeez, how brutal were those last few moments? A definite victory looked like it was lost after 2 costly turnovers by Earl Clark and we were going to OT. Then - BOOM! - Sosa knocks down a 25-footer on what looked like a broken play to rip the hearts out of UK fans and send me into a frenzy that included tackling L Yes! contributor TC into my living room couch in celebration. What a game. What a shot. Cards 74 Cats 71. 64 East is that way.
- Here's an interesting quote from Pitino about Sosa which I think to be completely laced with sarcasm:
"We had a long talk. I said `Edgar, if I were you I would transfer now. I wouldn't wait because you need a year under another coach to learn his system. I really think you should. The fans aren't too happy with you. More importantly if you are not happy with yourself, you're not having fun. I really think we'll look at some schools that don't play any defense. There aren't too many, but there are a few I can pick out. Then, we'll get you to transfer. I want you to think it over son. If you decide to come back, I am going to start you, but I want you to be happy and have fun playing the game of basketball. It's painful watching you.' He said to me, `Coach, I just feel that I am on a short leash. Everyone else is on a long leash and I am on a short one.' I said, `Edgar, the reason you are on a short leash is because every time you miss a shot, you get so down on yourself. I feel that you're not an up beat, positive guy. All I want you to do is play defense. I don't care what else you do, but play defense.' He decided to stay and I am happy he made that choice."
If that is completely true - it's amazing that Sosa needs that kind of talk to get his game in check. We all know he has the capability to have games like this, it's just frustrating to watch him play sometimes (all the time). I guess times like this make you realize that you have to take the good with the bad with Mr. Sosa. He just has to not get so frustrated with himself and smile and have a good time like he was out there Sunday.
- I know they turned the ball over a lot, but I feel like we got the best UK had to offer. Meeks was unconscious at points and Patterson handled Clark in the post all night. Of course, as I predicted here before the game, the Tim Higgins led officiating crew blew us into foul-trouble with Samardo Samuels having to sit most of the game due to some questionable calls. It always happens against the Cats, even at home. Meeks and Patterson got their 50, Michael Porter and Perry Stevenson were hitting 3's and Samuels was on the bench in foul trouble. It was set up for a UK win, but Sosa and the Cards were not letting victory slip away.
- If you make free throws you win games? No!? Yes, and the Cards shot 82% (19-23) from the charity stripe which is nearly 15 percentage points higher than the season average. Sosa was 8-9, Clark 6-8 and everybody else was perfect with the exception of Will Scott missing the front end of a technical. The free throw shooting needs to keep improving because it will be a key component in Big East play.
- Besides the amazing play of Sosa, I was thoroughly impressed with the minutes Pitino got out of George Goode. The redshirt freshman played 22 minutes had 2 huge blocks and didn't commit a single turnover. I'm beginning to think he might be the best interior defender we have. Patterson was getting a lot on the offensive boards, but when he went up against Goode in the paint it was slim pickins. According to Rick Pitino, Goode has missed all week in practice due to injury:
"I didn't say anything to you guys because we didn't have the opportunity, but George Goode has a stress fracture. He hasn't practiced in four days. The only reason I didn't play Terrence Jennings a little bit more in that situation is because he has a very time tough against pressure of remembering what we're supposed to do. And he is a difficult free throw shooter at times. We went with George without practicing for a few days and we're going to have to do that for a while until his stress fracture heals."
- Jerry Smith played a Jerry Smith kind of game. He played 29 minutes, didn't miss a shot, scored 11 points ans shut down Meeks just enough to get a victory. When Smith was in the game, Meeks struggled getting his shot off only freeing up on broken plays. All 4 guards made life hell for the UK ball handlers, forcing the cats to commit 21 turnovers. Smith led the way with his usual enthusiasm and intensity. I saw him spinning his towel, getting pumped-up with the crowd while he was waiting to check in the game.
- T-Will was just T-Will. He didn't finish a few in the lane I'm sure he wishes he had, but 19 points and 8 boards is now typical for our senior leader. His defense was awesome as he had 5 steals most as a result of the Pitino press. He made timely shots and grabbed a few huge rebounds towards the end of the game that helped assure victory.
- It concerns me that Samardo had trouble on defense with UK's bigs. His presence in the paint during Big Easy play will be crucial going up against guys like DeJuan Blair of PITT or Hasheem Thabeet of UCONN. He seems to get very down if things aren't going his way on offense. Making up for that with passing, defense and rebounding will get Samardo a long way. He did have a couple nice moves in the post on Patterson though.
- A little bit too close for comfort, but a win is a win especially against the hated Cats. You as a Card fan have a year's worth of bragging rights over Cats fans. That is something that can not be valued. I will be back later tonight with plus/minus ratings for the last 2 games and maybe some video if i can find it trolling around the 'net. South Florida on Wednesday.
at 6:00 AM