Guard Play Cooks Hogs

Posted: November 19, 2009 by duganryan in Louisville Basketball, Posted by Rob Jones

Six players scored in double figures, highlighted by Reginald Delk’s
20, as the Cards opened regular season play with a 96-66 thrashing of
an under manned Arkansas Razorbacks squad. There were some slow points
along the way, but eventually Louisville’s depth took over. Battled by
suspension, Arkansas played only 8 deep with one being a football
player and the other a golfer.

The Cards out rebounded the Hogs by a margin of 15 and held
sharp-shooter Rotnei Clarke – coming off a 51 point barrage – to a
rather pedestrian 16. AK coach John Pelfrey even joked that there were
2 Cards waiting for him when he got off the plane. Another
well-executed gameplan on the defensive end for Pitino who raised his
record to 25-7 against former assistants and players.

Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa dictated the pace for the Cards and played
some intense defense that they were perhaps lacking in the exhibition
games. Both senior guards combined for 26 points, 12 assists and 8
boards with only 2 turnovers. Sosa made great decisions with the ball
and Smith looked to get out of the shooting funk he has been in –
shooting a decent but not great 5-11. The second unit of Peyton Siva
and Preston Knowles did not disappoint either.  PK provided his usual
spark, although this time via the starting lineup. Siva gave us
another clip for the highlight reel – this time in the form of a
gliding up-and-under lay-in. He must have been watching film of his
coach’s fellow UMASS alumnus Doctor J late night in Minardi Hall.
However, Siva did get himself into foul trouble, leading to decreased
minutes and only 3 points. Knowles added 11.

Jared Swopshire messed around a got a double-double with 10 points and
11 boards. Probably his beast game as a Card in his young career. Swop
seems to be in the right place at the right time and plays a lot
bigger than he looks due to his long arms and wirey frame. He also
knocked down a couple open 3’s. It would be great to find a way for
Terrence Jennings and Samardo Samuels in the game at the same time,
however the play of Swop makes it easier to deal with. An ideal
line-up for me would be Swop at the 3 with Jennings, Samuels, Smith
and Sosa. (I think Knowles is Vinny Johnson/Kevin McHale-esque off the
bench) Swop needs to find 15-20+ minutes this year and I believe he
will.

Samuels and Jennings – I’m grouping them together because they seem to
have the same problems – must improve their toughness in order for
this team to be successful. The team shot light-ous from outside and I
understand the Cards won by 30, but the lack of toughness was still
evident. The problem is, I’m not sure if that’s something that can be
coached It has to be brought out by someone or something. Sort of like
a mental trigger. I’m sure Pitino is exhausting himself trying to pull
those triggers. It will happen eventually or both guys will be back
next year.  There is no reason that guys with that kind of size and
talent only combine for 6 boards against a team with only 1 big and 6
scholly’d players. If you can have to find something bad in a 30-point
victory, this is it.

Despite the interior problems, fans should be very pleased with the
Cards’ play. The offense rotated the ball like they have played 20
games this year and that resulted in open shots, which they knocked
down consistently. The patented second-half run returned as well,
something the depth will continue to cause. All in all, a performance
that should be appreciated, but not over-stated. A full strength
Razorback team would have given a better game. However, the Cards did
their job and stomped an S E C team on a neutral floor.

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