Monday, February 2, 2009

Breakin' It Down, Big Monday Style

I hate UConn. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it’s the arrogance that is Jim Calhoun. Maybe it’s that New England elitism.

It’s probably Larry Taylor and his fake fair catches. Damn you, Larry Taylor.

UConn enters Freedom Hall tonight at 20-1 and poised to be the No. 1 team in the country.

The Huskies, like the Cards, haven’t lost a game since December, when they dropped their conference opener to Georgetown at home for their only loss of the season.

To have success against UConn, Louisville will have to do a lot of the things G’town did well.

1. MUST get off to a good start. Against South Florida and then again against West Virginia, the Cards looked sluggish coming out of the gate. We’ll need to play 40 minutes of basketball tonight. That means you, too, Earl. The Hoyas jumped out to an 18-3 lead in their upset at UConn and never looked back. Come out focused and ready to play and the faithful will respond. I’ll make them.

2. Hit open shots. UConn plays very, very good inside defense, with 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet (owned and operated by David Padgett) clogging up the paint. He averages 4 blocks per game. But tonight look for Louisville’s ball rotation to get their guards some open looks on the wing. If we’re hitting on the 3 ball, we got a chance in this one. Hopefully Jerry’s found that magic and is back for good now.

3. Free throws down the stretch. We’re shooting under 66% on the season. That’s not very good. I expect this game to be close – one thing the Cards have done with consistency this season is tested my cardio – so hitting from the charity stripe is a must. I also expect T Will to be a senior and hit better than his average of 60%. Terrence, you’re better than that. But I still love you.

4. Playmaker. Who’s it gonna be? Against WVU T Will turned it over on back-to-back possessions in the final 2 minutes of a close game. That shouldn’t happen. And after coming off performances of 4 and 8 points, he’s due for a big game. UConn is a good match-up for T Will; nobody can hang with his athleticism and quickness. I think he’ll get off.

5. Force the issue. Turnovers aren’t really UConn’s thing (they average less than 12 per game), but if we can steal a few early it’ll frustrate their guards. A.J. Price is susceptible, let’s get on him, make him cough it up, and get in his head.

6. Wear ‘em down. Price, Thabeet, Jeff Adrian and Jerome Dyson is where they get most of their points. They’re a veteran team, starting 3 juniors and 2 seniors, but don’t look for them to play 11 in the first half ala Pitino last Saturday. Play Louisville ball: pressing, in-your-face defense against their guards, and let’s test their endurance. I’ll take our bench vs. UConn’s bench every day of the week.

7. And finally: The Unseld. The No. 31 jersey will be on tonight, you can bet on it.

In other news, the Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl XLIII Champions. For those of you keeping track at home (ah-hem, Sweeney, Jones), that's 6. "One for the other thumb," we're calling it. Not that other thumb Rob. You're gross.

Tip-off at 7:00. ESPN. Big Monday, indeed.

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