After a wild and crazy game, grades need to be given to the major players in the game. Here are my grades, and the reason for them, handed out for the UL/UConn game:
Edgar Sosa A: Edgar did not have his best game by no means, but he took his best shot when the game mattered most, taking and making the game-winning shot with 8.2 seconds left. His shots didn't fall, shooting 2 of 8 from the field, but he made up for it in the assist category tallying 6 assists with only one turnover. Before Edgar made the shot, I would have given him a C+, but winning cures all ills and Edgar is the classic example of the old phrase "It's not how you start, it's how you finish".
Samardo Samuels B-: Samardo had a rough shooting day, going 4 for 11 from the field, but still managed 14 points by shooting 6 of 7 from the free throw line. He also worked hard on the boards, getting 7 rebounds with 3 of them on the offensive glass. One season long blemish on Samardos' game is lack of ball security in the post. Too many times he easily gets the ball knocked out of his hands. In this game he had 4 turnovers as a direct result of soft hands. That's about 3 too many for a 6' 9" 260 pound man. Samardo only had 1 assist. At this point in the season, where all defenses are keying on him, he should thrive in the assist category when he is double and triple teamed. Our success in the post-season will literally depend on Samardo Samuels' hands.
Jerry Smith B-: Jerry had a really good game offensively, shooting 4 for 5 from the field and 3 for 3 from the free throw line for 12 points. But after those totals, he was pretty much absent from other categories. He had 0 rebounds, only 1 assist, and 2 steals. As a senior starting 2 guard, he simply has to do more at a much higher level. This whole season has been less than positive on the court, so let's hope this last game will give Jerry confidence to play better in the games coming up.
Terrence Jennings D: Terrence had 6 points on 3 of 5 shooting. After those numbers, he showed up in no other form or fashion, tallying 0 rebounds and 0 assists. The 0 rebounds is inexcusable. At 6' 10" and 240 pounds there is no reason he couldn't come up with at least 5 or 6 rebounds. This is nothing but a lack of effort and desire in the rebounding game, which is exactly what is required to be a great rebounder. I've told this story a million times. Former Pitt center, and now San Antonio Spur power forward, DeJuan Blair was an undersized center at 6' 7" and he also happend to play without ACL's in EITHER knee!! Yet he was able to vacuum in rebounds at an astonishing rate of 12 per game his senior year. For Blair, rebounding was an act of shear will and that is something that is sorely missing in Jennings' game. Terrence doesn't lack intensity the whole time because he did come up with 3 blocked shots, it's just that he needs to bring it every second of every game.
Reginald Delk D: In 17 minutes of play, Delk came up with 0 points, 1 rebound and 0 assists. Delk was a ghost in this game. I will never understand Coach Pitino's crazed persistence to leave upper-classman in a game when it is more than obvious that he is having a bad game. That is why you have a thing called a bench to put another player in to spell another player. Read on to find out who that other player could have been.
Mike Marra ?: For the third straight game Marra played zero minutes. Whether Marra kicked Pitinos dog or he forgot to bring doughnuts one time too many, we the paying public should know why in the world he has been turned into a modern day Rodrick Rhodes. I just don't get it.
Peyton Siva A+: Yeah, the grades a little high, but for a freshman point guard to perform the way he did in a big time must-win game in the Big East in enemy territory, he earned every bit of that A+. In only 17 minutes of play, Siva scored 8 points on 3 of 7 from the field with 2 three pointers, had 5 assists, got his quick hands on 3 steals and commited ZERO turnovers! Sivas performance was stellar as he was the key to the Cardinals comeback. What I did not understand at all was Coach Pitinos decision to take Siva out of the game for a slumping Sosa. As soon as Sosa came into the game, the 7 point lead that was built ,as a direct result of Siva, was gone in a matter of minutes. Taking out a younger player who's having a career game to keep a seniors mindset positive makes no sense to me. You keep the player, no matter what year he is, that is playing the best game at that time.
Preston Knowles A: Preston was terrific coming off the bench, scoring 12 points and getting 3 steals in 18 minutes of play. It seems like he's back to his super-sub form and that couldn't have come at a better time. Preston hit huge shots late and played superb defense and I have no question that he will get even better as his nagging injuries seemed to have finally worn off.
Jared Swopshire B: Jared a had bad shooting day, scoring 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting, but as usual his work ethic showed up on other parts of the stat sheet. He had 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. If only the rest of some of the players like Terrence, Samardo and Jerry had the no quit attitude of Jared, there is no telling where this team would be in the standings right now.
There you have it folks, my first report card for the UofL/UConn game. UofL needs one more win to solidify their spot in the NCAA's. The Cardinals should be able to ride the confidence from this game into Tuesdays game at 9:30 on ESPNU against Marquette at The Bradley Center. It's good to see the urgency from most of the players on the floor and especially on the scoreboard. The wild ride continues.