Four Thoughts: Louisville vs. Seton Hall EditionPosted by mlemaire on March 8th, 2012
Game recaps are boring. If you want to read them, search your local newspaper or the Associated Press. With the Big East Tournament upon us, we figured we would try to offer four thoughts about several of the key games throughout the week.
South Florida took care of business against Villanova tonight and I am only one man with a partner on a family vacation, so I have to pick and choose which game to analyze. I chose the game with juicer storylines. Louisville held off a late rally from Seton Hall that left the Pirates with a lot to worry about on Sunday, so let’s dive right in.
1. When everyone is playing hard, the Cardinals are a really tough team to score against.
This isn’t exactly news to anyone who has watched the team play even once, but Rick Pitino‘s club is full of long, athletic defenders who love to wreak havoc in the passing lanes and contest every shot. And that doesn’t even include the rim-protecting ability that center Gorgui Dieng brings to the defense. According to Pitino, the team had 39 deflections and Dieng had six blocks and 10 rebounds as they harassed the Pirates into 17 turnovers and a 3-19 night from behind the three-point line. The win sets up an exciting matchup with ninth-ranked Marquette in the quarterfinals. The two teams met only once this season, a January tilt in Milwaukee when the Golden Eagles erased a big early lead and won semi-handily. I am going to go out on a limb and say tomorrow’s game will have a little more drama.
2. If West Virginia’s Kevin Jones went out with a bang, Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope did the opposite.
Theodore admitted as much after the game, saying the duo “came up short tonight,” and that may be an understatement. If you also include the third Musketeer, Fuquan Edwin, the team’s three best players combined to go just 12-33 from the field and nobody got comfortable against the Cardinals’ stifling defense. Pope grabbed 15 rebounds, but the fact that he is undersized if magnified when he plays against Dieng, although it is tough for anybody to get a shot off against the conference’s best shot-alterer. Meanwhile, led by Peyton Siva‘s six steals, Louisville’s guard rotation was active and opportunistic on defense and neither Edwin nor Theodore got off many uncontested jumpers. Edwin will be back next year, but this may have been the last hurrah for seniors Pope and Theodore, and it would be a disappointing end to two great careers.
3. Since we are on the subject, Seton Hall is going to be sweating hard until Sunday.
Coach Kevin Willard was pleading his case after the game, but if some teams snatch unlikely auto bids, Seton Hall may be one of the first bounced off the bubble. They have a few nice conference wins, but their overall mark against the top 50 is unimpressive, so they will need a few other bubble teams to lose and no other team to come out of nowhere and win a surprise conference championship. It must have been frustrating for Pirates’ fans to watch their team sort of implode after such an excellent start, but they have just as many ugly losses as they do impressive wins, and late comebacks to prove they could hang with Louisville probably won’t make a difference.
4. As Peyton Siva goes, the Cardinals offense goes.
Another rather obvious statement if you have seen Louisville play this year, but when Siva plays well, the Cardinals’ offensive is more dynamic and dangerous. Siva wasn’t show-stopping but he did play well, scoring a team-best 14 points and grabbing five rebounds. Anyone can tell you Siva has done his best work on the defensive end this season and his career for that matter. He has never been the versatile offensive star Pitino was hoping for coming out of high school, but he can still score. He will need to be even better tomorrow if he and his teammates are going to beat an excellent defensive team in Marquette. Siva will not only need to take care of the ball and attack offensively at the same time, which will be difficult against the long and physical defenders on the Golden Eagles.