After a January where they suffered bad break after bad break, luck has finally turned the Louisville Cardinals way. It continued with a hard fought, double overtime, 91-89 win against Notre Dame at Freedom Hall. From the beginning, Coach Rick Pitino drew up a gameplan that would include a steady diet of Samardo Samuels. The Cardinals dumped the ball down low, early and often, and the sophomore center responded with 36 points on 10 0f 19 from the field and an outstanding 16 of 19 from the free throw line.
On the defensive end, Louisville did more than a serviceable job, pressing in it's usual tireless manner and being no less than pesky in their trapping 2-3 zone in their halfcourt defense. At the freethrow line, the Cardinals were simply in a zone, shooting 35 of 40 from the free throw line on 87.5% shooting. Louisville also shot an excellent 8 of 17 from the three-point line for an efficient 47%.
Sophomore forward Jared Swopshire contributed greatly to the nights game, scoring 12 points and fighting for 9 rebounds. He was also very active on the defensive end with 3 blocked shots. Senior point guard, Edgar Sosa, chipped in with 12 points and 4 assists. I'm still having a hard time understanding how Sosa, after 4 years at point guard, continues to settle for defended jumpshots, instead of the extra pass, when double-teamed.
On the Notre Dame side, junior forward Tim Abromaitis more than held his own against Louisville's stifling defense. He shot a brilliant 11 for 18 from the field, 2 for 4 from the 3 point line, and 5 for 6 from the free-throw line. Abromaitis has a fundamentally sound, consistent, and smooth shooting stroke. Like the analysts say, he has a shooting form that, when he misses, you're surprised. Senior point guard, Tory Jackson, had an outstanding game with 19 points and 7 assists. He also played all 40 minutes of regulation, and all of both 5 minute overtimes. Senior point guard , Ben Hansbrough, (who will ALWAYS be known as Tyler's brother), added 21 points and 8 rebounds for the Fighting Irish.
At this time of year, no matter how pretty or ugly, you can never argue with a win. Yeah it was a little less than pretty, but Louisville never gave up on the effort the entire night, and that was a very good thing to see from this sometimes ill-focused team. The next game is at Depaul, at 2:00, on Saturday. This Cardinals team should, and with this team I stress the word should, win this game pretty handily and distance us even further away from the dreaded NCAA Tournament Bubble. All in all I was pleased with this team, and this game, tonight and look forward to seeing if they can string some more wins together. You certainly can't say that this team is lacking in drama. Stay tuned for game notes later tonight.