I had to take a day off to let my senses get back in order after the Cards looked uninspired and exposed at points of the game Monday. Here are 5 thoughts/concerns coming out of the loss to the Huskies...
1. Samardo can't compete with 7-footers - Whether it be Minnesota's Colton Iverson or Hasheem Thabeet of UCONN, Mardo struggles against the bigger centers the Cards play. I don't know if it's due to intimidation, lack of leaping explosion, or inexperience, but our freshman sensation has had his worst games as a Card against 7-footers. 2 shot attempts? That is uncalled for. According to Pitino, Mardo is going to be spending more time on the pine in favor of Terrence Jennings.
2. Guards that handle pressure - Dyson, AJ Price and especially Kemba Walker got through the Cardinal pressure pretty easily - as high-caliber guards should. What the cards need to do is come up with a way to prevent easy buckets after the pressure is broken. The UCONN guards didn't hit a three, but made up for it by breaking the pressure and creating easy opportunities.
3. E5 & NBA Scouts - I really don't want to believe this, but with 30 NBA scouts in the building it looked like Earl Clark was trying to show-off more than play his part. It wasn't necessarily the poor percentage as it was the contested shots he took. Very uncharacteristic from the previous games. However, with Earl you never know what to expect next. He could take those same 16 shots against St. John's, hit 12 and drop 30.
4. Substitution Patterns - I understand T-Will was in foul trouble, but Kyle Kuric was basically thrown into the wolves by Pitino and asked to play his first significant action in several games against the #1 team in the country. Although he looked overwhelmed at times, Kuric deserves to play. My suggestion would be to give him spot minutes at the 2 and 3 positions to prepare for something like that happening again. The Cards were close and then the Sosa-Kuric-Swopshire-Clark-Jennings lineup came in - next thing you know were down 10. Not saying those guys shouldn't play, I just think it should be against UCONN.
5. Life Without T-Will - Someone on the team needs to step up whenever T-Will is absent. Whether it be Andre McGee or someone else, Pitino needs a general on the floor in the chance Williams gets in foul trouble or - God forbid - gets hurt. He had 26 points and nobody on the rest of the team had over 8 (Knowles). We are not Kentucky. that is not how the Cards roll. Someone else need to step up to the plate and take control whenever the Cards are without Williams or they are going to get burnt against like they did Monday.
I feel like I'm being too harsh, but with how good the team was playing it's good that some weaknesses were exposed. Now Pitino and his coaching staff can get in the Yum! Center war room and tweak everything that is wrong. It was embarrassing, but could also be a stepping stone for something greater in the future. The loss most definitely will bring the Cards a little more down to earth as well. The last few weeks their heads have been in the stratosphere. All I know is I'd be extremely scared if I were Norm Roberts or St. John's right now.
More Tuesday Nuggets...
- Like I mentioned above, there will be a line-up shake-up starting with St. John's Sunday. Jerry Smith and his shuffling feet hit the pine in place of Preston Knowles. No arguments here other than the fact we don't know how Knowles will fair starting as opposed to being the microwave off the bench. Jerry - as much as i love him - was simply being outplayed on both ends. Terrence Jennings will replace Samardo at the 5 spot. Same as the guard switch, Jennings is playing better and with the talent the team has, the competition of knowing your starting spot isn't ever safe could bring out the best in a player.
- I know it's National Football Signing Day, however our friends at "Inside the Hall" (IU blog) posted a video of potential Louisville basketball recruit Marquis Teague (brother of Wake's Jeff). the guy looks like a smooth, game-changing guard just like big bro. I don't think these Hoosier fans know the cards have been stealing most of their in-state talent. It's been widely rumored that Teague is nearly a lock for the Cards, as his father played for Pitino at Boston U. Take a gander at what could possibly be the next best thing in the 'ville...
Marquis Teague from Inside The Hall on Vimeo.
- Have to address the UK loss. Teams are finally starting to figure out that if you stop Meeks (meaning holding him under 30), you win the game. The fans are standing firmly with a finger placed on the PANIC BUTTON and a loss to Florida next game could send the Blue-Bloods overboard. Darrell Byrd of TCP is reporting that there was a verbal brawl amongst the team after the loss to Miss St. last night and Billy Clyde just sat back and let it go. The team is in disarray, my UK insiders tell me not one player likes Billy Clyde, and they have lost 3 straight in the weakest conference in the country. Ain't life grand?
1. Darren Rovell - Sports Biz on CNBC - Why Michael Phelps is a Good Endorser (The dude is wearing like a $20,000 (maybe more) Omega watch and having a good time. Give him a break. He can do whatever he wants. With that lung capacity, maybe his next venture will be the Weed Olympics)
2. The Big Lead - Dan Patrick Somehow Managed to Get Bob Uecker Treatment for Springsteen’s Halftime Show (I want to be that one day. The life of a national sports guy has to be like heaven on Earth. Also, a treat for you Rod Tidwell fans)
3. Brian Bennett - ESPN Blogger Nation - Anything I Write About Louisville (I like Brian's work, but I have to call him out on something - Why do you say Krag is the right option for Louisville right now yet everything you write is completely detrimental to the team? Just read his UL stuff in his last few posts. If it's that bad, go ahead and hop on the band-wagon with us. Good blog though.)
4. Vince Grzegorek - Sporting News First Cuts - Blagojevich's Natural Next Move: Wrestling (Pretty self-explanatory and pretty hilarious. I might start watching wrestling again just for this)
5. Eric Fisher - Sports Business Journal - Selig's Pay Climbs Past $18 Million (You've got to be joking right? The man that has made the national pastime an embarrassing mockery makes 18 mil a year. that makes two jobs - baseball commissioner and weatherman - where you can be wrong most of the time and still get paid. What a joke)