Posted by Dan Lyons on January 24th, 2013
- Just days removed from being the top ranked team in the nation, Louisville has fallen on tough times. Back to back losses to Syracuse and Villanova has Rick Pitino noticeably upset about his team’s play. After the Villanova loss, his venom was directed towards the Cardinals’ free throw shooting, at the expense of a pair of basketball stars: “It was really a simple answer to why we lost. Basically we were Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal. We came down we had a six-point lead and it could have been eight. Could have kept coming down and extending it but our free throws were a turnover. Very simple answer for why we lost. Our foul shooting was despicable.” Despite the two losses, Louisville can still be considered the class of the conference, and we know that Pitino is coaching his team with March in mind. That being said, with both Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harris shooting ~50% from the line, the Cardinals may have a tough time closing out savvy teams.
- Moving forward, the game may say more about Villanova than it does Louisville. The Wildcats have struggled to notch conference wins to this point, but they’ve been knocking on the door. Against the Cardinals, they just decided to kick it down. Where in previous games against Pitt and Providence, Villanova was unable to put away its opponent, against Louisville the Wildcats applied the pressure while playing from behind, and with an assist from the Cardinals’ poor free throw shooting, Nova finally stole one. The Wildcats have a chance to make another big statement against Syracuse on Saturday morning. Another strong performance would go a long way towards getting Villanova back into NCAA Tournament talks.
- I wouldn’t have guessed Buzz Williams as the Big East coach to utilize long-running extended metaphors to describe his team from season to season, but here we are. Marquette‘s a hard team to pin down. They haven’t looked awfully impressive in any game this season. It took overtime to beat Pittsburgh and UConn, they snuck by Georgetown in a classic Hoya 49-48 game, and they only topped Seton Hall by seven. However, they only have one loss in league play, in overtime against Cincinnati, and the Golden Eagles find themselves in second place, 1.5 games behind Syracuse. Some teams have played below expectations, others have surpassed them. Marquette seems to be right where it should be, it just hasn’t been an easy path taken.
- Scott Martin‘s six year Notre Dame career may be coming to a close. The oft-banged up Irish captain has struggled to regain form after offseason ACL and meniscus repair, and has been shut down for the time being. Mike Brey says that it’s all hands on deck to try to find a replacement for Martin: “But I think I’m going into it thinking, we’re looking at everybody in a gold (practice) shirt – Zach (Auguste), Austin (Burgett), (Garrick Sherman), Tom Knight. We’re going to do it today, we’re going to do it tomorrow, and we’re probably going to do it the first half Saturday to see, what do we have?” Martin’s scoring has dipped a bit this season, but he’s a solid player who is especially dangerous with his .463 mark from three-point range. More than anything, the Irish will miss Martin’s consistency, and the team needs it more now than ever. Hopefully Martin is able to come back from this most recent issue.
- UConn freshman Omar Calhoun was not only lucky enough to be blessed with tremendous skill on the court, but he also has two parents who have a unique perspective on what it takes to succeed off of it. Calhoun’s father, Omar Sr., played at St. Francis College before leaving the game when Omar Jr. was born. His mother, Semara Breland, was a star in high school on track to receive multiple scholarship offers before she left the game as a Junior. Both stayed in school and received their college degrees while raising Omar and his sister Sierra, a good player in her own right, and that experience has been invaluable in guiding their kids to making good, informed choices with their basketball careers.