Rushed Reactions: #4 Louisville 71, #13 Manhattan 64Posted by rtmsf on March 21st, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- Luke Hancock, For the Win. Experience might be somewhat overrated, but winning experience probably isn’t. Having been in tight spots before and come through them successfully gives players the resolve to repeat those achievements, and that’s what we saw from Luke Hancock tonight. With Louisville having trouble scoring and Manhattan firmly believing that it could actually beat the defending champs, Hancock used his ice-cool moxie to pick off a crosscourt pass that led to a foul and two free throws followed by a couple of huge momentum-swing threes. Those eight points from the 1:53 mark on finally gave the Cardinals enough breathing room to survive and advance, but what was remarkable about it was just how unremarkable it was. Hancock has proven to be an assassin, and he’s done nothing to change that reputation.
- Eye of the Cardinal. Many people are picking Louisville to make another deep run in this year’s NCAA Tournament from the #4 seed, but it’s clear that this team has some deficiencies that last year’s group did not have. What I was hoping to see, though, was some of their patented aggressiveness — the we-shall-bend-you will that the 2013 Cardinals carried in spades — and I only really saw it in the final few minutes of the game. Much of this no doubt had to do with an off shooting night and the difficulties that Manhattan’s pressure caused the Cardinals, but given that this year’s team has much less margin for error, they’d probably be best served bringing a complete effort from the opening tip next time around.
- All Credit to Steve Masiello. The Manhattan head coach probably earned himself a lot of money tonight — either from his own school or a possible suitor. His players competed with fantastic intensity throughout the game, and they never relented until the final buzzer. Much will be made about how Manhattan nearly out-Louisvilled Louisville, but the fact of the matter is that Masiello was quite the apt pupil working for Pitino all those many years (from ballboy to assistant coach and everything in-between). The way he stalked around the sidelines, cajoled and encouraged his players, even the way he speaks about the game of basketball — some might say that they were looking at another young Pitino.
Star of the Game. Luke Hancock, Louisville. On a night when nobody wearing a Louisville uniform could shoot the ball well, it was Hancock who saved the day with his pair of late treys as well as a steal and two free throws in the final four minutes. His line of 16 points, four assists, four rebounds, and four steals paced the Cards.
- “When we play against ourselves in practice, it’s a nightmare.” — Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, discussing the familiar style of play that former assistant coach Steve Masiello has taken with him to Manhattan.
- “That’s one of the best coaching jobs that I have seen in my 39 years [as a head coach].” — Pitino again, referring to how well-prepared Masiello’s team was to play his Cardinals.
What’s Next? The defending national champs have now won 11 games in the last three NCAA Tournaments, and they’ll go for their 12th against a game Saint Louis group on Saturday afternoon in what should be a defensive slugfest.