Dr. Jekyll reared his ugly head last night at Freedom Hall, this time in the form of, junior guard for the #13th ranked Georgetown Hoyas,Austin Freeman, and the Louisville Cardinals defense in the second. After being held to 5 points in the first half, Freeman simply erupted for 24 points in the second half finishing with 29 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field, 5 of 6 from the 3 point line(all 5 in the second half), and a perfect 6 0f 6 from the free throw line.In the first half, the Cardinals defense was superb against the Hoyas, keeping their stars, Greg Monroe and Austin Freeman, in check. The Hoyas went into the half down 6, 29 -35. When the second half began, Austin Freeman and his teammates, came out a completely different team. Freeman scored the first 8 points ,all in 2 minutes, for the Hoyas on two three pointers and a putback. From there, they went on a 24 -3 run that turned a 29-35 deficit at the half into a 53-38 lead in the middle of the second half, and at that point, the finish was academic.(Did I type the word half, enough?) The Cardinals had no answers on the offensive end in the second period, missing shot after shot from all over the basketball court, be it down low or from the 3 point line.
The lone positive performance for the Cardinals came from senior point guard Edgar Sosa, who scored 24 points, handed out 8 assists, and only had 1 turnover. To me the numbers don't tell the whole story. Sosa got a large majority of his points doing his usual move of putting his head down and making a bullrush for the basket. In these forays to the rim, Sosa is NEVER looking to pass out to an open teammate to get others involved, thus making him a one man team and offensively inefficient. This also poses a problem on the defensive transition because, instead of traditionally having 2 guards to get back on defense, you have only 1 guard exposed on a fast break when Sosa is stuck under the basket.
Sophomore power forward Samardo Samuels was held largely in check all night, only scoring 11 points on 5 of 12 shooting from the field. He only secured 6 rebounds and the most troubling stat line was his 0 assists. In a night where he was doubled, and sometimes triple teamed, the entire game, his lack of ability to pass the ball out to the open man proved to be one of the Cardinals undoing.
Samuels' opposition, sophomore center Greg Monroe, basically lit up Samuels on all facets of the game. Monroe ended up with 16 points 14 rebounds and 5 timely assists. Monroe could do anything he wanted against Samuels at anytime. He used numerous post moves in and around the basket to run circles against a seemingly flat-footed Samuels. Unlike Samuels, Monroe was constantly aware of the defense coming at him, therefore he was able to dish out assists when and where his teammates needed it. The kid is an instant lottery pick.
Sophomore center for the Cardinals, Terrence Jennings, played for most of the first half and had 4 points and 2 rebounds. I thought he did a good job of containing Monroe and the Hoyas down low in the first half. But then Jennings' nightmare season continued, where he saw the court sparingly. Clearly there is something behind the scenes that is going on between Coach Pitino and Jennings, that noone knows about. After a more than positive game against DePaul, I just don't think these random benchings help these kids confidence at all.
Speaking of random benchings, WHERE IS MIKE MARRA? After a, for Marra, breakout game against one of the best defenses in the country in Syracuse, he has played ZERO minutes in the past two games! What is going on here? When you ask Coach Pitino, he'll give you the old standby, "wasn't the right matchup". Of all games, Marra would have been perfect to stretch a defense that was clearly clogging the middle to keep the ball out of Samardo Samuels' hands. As I said before, I don't see how benching a kid for two whole games helps this kids already fragile confidence on any level.
The Louisville Cardinals' next game will be in Storrs, Connecticut against the UConn Huskies at 2pm Sunday on CBS. This will be a completely different team than the last one that played at Freedom Hall without their head coach Jim Calhoun. Calhoun gives his players a fire, fight and desire that was sorely missed during his medical absence. This game will have two hungry teams fighting for their lives to get into the tournament. It will all break down to (Sports Cliche' Alert!!) who wants it more.