Article by Jason Sheehan – Louisville coach Rick Pitino has coached in 945 games in his college career. He has had enough experience to
know and understand that not every game is going to be a pretty one. Tonight’s game was not one of Louisville’s best, but the Cardinals did just enough to pull out a win over visiting Cleveland State, 45 – 33.
No. 6 ranked Louisvlle had trouble the entire night putting the ball in the basket in all phases of the game. The Cardinals finished 15 for 47 for 31.9 percent from the field. They shot only 15 percent from the three-point line making only 3 of 20. They were not very good from the free throw line either, making only 12 of their 26 free throws.
Defense was the key to their win tonight. As poor as Louisville shot, the Vikings shot that much worse. Louisville’s hard-nosed defense held Cleveland State to 25 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from three-point range.
Cleveland State’s Trey Lewis was the only Viking player to score more than four points. He finished with 24 of his team’s 33 points.
Pitino was displeased with the offensive effort, but was very pleased with the defensive effort saying, “It’s going to be all about defense and our guys, as bad as we were offensively tonight and most phases of the game, we were very good on defense.”
Montrezl Harrell led the way for the Cardinals with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.
Chinanu Onuaku continued his impressive freshman season. Onuaku presence was felt on the defensive side as he controlled the paint with 7 blocked shots and 9 rebounds. His 7 blocks gave him 13 in the past two games. He played a season-high 35 minutes as backup center Mangok Mathiang was out with a sprained ankle.
Pitino loves Onuaku’s play, but did discuss his conditioning saying, “He’s playing well. He’s got to get to where he doesn’t get tired and has to come out of the game. But he’s good, he’s agile, he knows how to play.”
Louisville’s bench was not effective. Anton Gill was the only reserve to play more than four minutes. Gill played 15 minutes, but failed to score missing all 3 of his three-point attempts. Louisville’s bench contributed 0 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Pitino discussed the shooting woes by saying, “If you’ll notice, one of the reasons why we’re not as good as we should be from the foul line is we’re playing too many minutes. Guys are just tired. There’s not a whole lot of what I can do about it because guys aren’t ready to play. We’re winning with focus on scouting and doing little things. Our bench is just not ready right now.”
Louisville will look to go 6 – 0 on the young season when the No. 16 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes come in to the KFC Yum Center Tuesday night at 9:30.