(Yeah…that ankle seems okay)
I keep trying to remind myself this is just South Florida. Plus, it was at home. I should not be this excited about this team after beating a team like…well…THAT. Yet, here I am, trying to think of any team right now that the Cardinals could not beat. I cannot think of any. NC State beat Duke today. Soundly. Sure, they did not have Ryan Kelly. U of L did not have Gorgui for a while, either (see Jason Anderson tweet), but we still looked great. Michigan is great, and Trey Burke is arguably the best point guard in college basketball. Louisville is better. Indiana would be the biggest challenge, in my opinion, but head-to-head on a neutral court, I’ll take Louisville every day of the week and twice on Sunday. That being said, let’s dissect this game.
Peyton Siva. While he was not his usual assist-delivering self (he finished with just one), it was one of the best scoring performances of the year for the senior point guard. He finished with 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting and was 3 of 5 from downtown. I am not sure where this three-point shooting has been the past three years, but it never stops amazing me just how much his outside shot has improved. If he is going to continue to shoot like that, then by all means, keep shooting. I think one of the biggest red flags in regards to his NBA prospects was his outside shot. If you are sub-6’0 and hope to play in the NBA, you better be able to shoot. For a long while, Siva never showed that he could be a consistent outside shooter (to put it lightly). Now is another story. He may not be a first rounder, but if he keeps shooting like this and playing smart, he will have his shot. Oh, and let’s not forget that whole 1,000 point thing. Peyton now has that many and more for his career, and I cannot think of anyone who deserves it more.
Chane Behanan. So…about that ankle? After he was supposed to miss up to 4 games, Chane came off the bench today and just dominated the boards. He only went for 7 points but brought down 12 rebounds and worked his tail off in the paint. He played the game the way it was meant to be played and looked great doing so. It was an all-out effort from the sophomore stud and one he should hold his head high about.
Stephan Van Treese. How can anyone not love the way he plays the game? There is nobody on this team that gives more effort on the court than SVT. Whether it is put-back dunks, strong rebounds or saving the ball, the young man does it all. There are so many players out there that are so much more talented than he is, but have about 1/1oth of his heart. Glad you’re still here, SVT.
Gorgui Dieng. Just another double-double for the big man. 12 points. 15 rebounds. No big deal.
Three-point shooting. If there was one negative part of this game, it was the offense beyond the arc. Siva went 3-5, and everyone else went oh-fer. Russ was 0-4 and Hancock was 0-3.
Russ Smith. Not Russ’s best performance of the season. Along with missing all 4 of his three-point attempts, he went 2 of 13 overall for a season-low 8 points (his first time this season being in single digits in the scoring category) and had 3 turnovers to just 1 assist. Keep in mind, he only played 18 minutes, so had he stayed in, he likely would have put more points on the board. Pitino, though, not seeing the need to risk injuring his star guard, smartly removed him from the game.
Jordan Omogbehin. The big 7-3, 330 lb center for USF is not on here because of his play, but because I just feel bad for the young man. Of that 330 lb frame, probably 8% of it is fat. He is built like the ideal athlete, but is still learning the game. He looked so awkward an uncomfortable out there at times. He has a huge ceiling, so hopefully Stan Heath can work similar magic to what Pitino did with Gorgui.
UK basketball. I do not usually talk about the enemy on here, but losing to Texas A&M by 12 at home is hilarious. And they are now officially on the bubble. Luckily, they are in the brittle SEC, so they should be fine, but funny how no one is talking about Calipari as the greatest coach since John Wooden anymore, isn’t it?
Denver Broncos. I am a HUGE Peyton Manning fan, and this loss to Baltimore was tough to watch. First, there was the pick-six off of his receiver, Eric Decker’s hands. Catch the damn ball. There was also the horrendous play of the secondary. Only 30 seconds left and they allow a 60 yard touchdown? Kragthorpian. Then how about the gutless decision of John Fox to kneel the ball to force overtime, despite having two timeouts and the master of the two-minute drill at his helm. Then, of course, there was the Favre-like bad decision of Manning to throw across his body for another eye inn tee to ice the game for Baltimore. Of course, the Manning haters will want to put this on his head, but his supporting cast choked hard. Tough to stomach.
BCS and ESPN talking heads. I put the BCS here because if the NFL went by the same rules, Denver would be playing Atlanta in the Super Bowl. Just saying. As for the ESPN analysts, since the Ravens were a 4-seed, they won because the Broncos were just disinterested. Had to be it. No other explanation.
Okay, as you can see from the last three “bad” categories, one of which I kind of used as a way to rant off some frustrations (sorry), there is not much to complain about here. This Louisville basketball team is the best in the country, and I do not think there is any valid argument to suggest otherwise.