Category Archives: Jason Sheehan

Louisville Struggles in 68 – 57 Win

Rick Pitino heaped high praise for his former assistant Kevin Keatts before the game and even more after the No. 4 ranked Louisville Cardinals 68 – 57 win over visiting UNCW Seahawks.  Pitino said, “I’m real proud of Kevin Keatts, for his team.  You like to see that.  They really deserved a better fate than that because they really outplayed us.”

Pitino was not in the mood to talk after the game.  His post-game press conference lasted less than two minutes.  His most telling statement, “I’m really disappointed in our basketball team, but they made us look bad so you’ve got to give all the credit to them.”

The game started slow for the Cardinals as UNCW jumped out to a 4 – 0 lead.  The slow start led to Pitino calling a quick timeout.  Wayne Blackshear then scored Louisville’s first basket 3:14 into the game.

Montrezl Harrell’s strong inside play helped push the Cardinals’ halftime lead to 32 – 24.  Harrell scored nine first half points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The second half started out much better than the first half with Louisville pushing their lead out to a game-high 17 points with 11:42 remaining.  The Cardinals looked to be in control leading 52 – 45, but the Seahawks would not go down easily.

The Seahawks fought back, eventually getting to within two points with just under seven minutes remaining.  They outscored Louisville 15 – 0 over a five plus minute stretch.

Terry Rozier then scored six of the next eight points to push Louisville’s lead to 60 – 52.  Rozier finished with 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, but Pitino was not happy with his performance saying, “he turned the ball over too much and he didn’t have an assist in the game. He didn’t play well at all.”

Montrezl Harrell finished with his fifth consecutive double-double.  He tied Rozier with a game-high 19 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.

Louisville’s poor performance came just five days after one of their more impressive offensive performances against the Indiana Hoosiers.  They put up a season-high 94 points and 15 assists.  Against the Seahawks they finished with only seven assists.  The assist total is what Pitino has said is keeping this season’s Cardinals from becoming a great team saying, “We didn’t pass the ball like we did against Indiana. We hunted points and we paid the consequences of hunting points rather than hitting the open man.”

UNCW was led in scoring by senior guard Freddie Jackson who finished with 16 points.

Louisville’s next game will be their first true road game as they travel to Bowling Green to face Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

NOTES:

*Freshman Shaqquan Aaron will be eligible to play against Western Kentucky after being suspended for the first nine games of the season.

*Montrezl Harrell’s 17 rebounds against UNCW is a career-high.

Louisville pounds Indiana 94 – 74

New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden has become familiar territory for the No. 4 ranked Louisville Cardinals over the past five years. It has become a home away from home. With their win against Indiana, the Cardinals have now won nine straight and 11 of their past 12 games in the Garden. They also won the 2009, 2012, and 2013 Big East Championships in the Garden.

Defense has been the key to Louisville’s early season success. This game was the polar opposite in the first half as the Hoosiers hit 7 of their first 10 threes. However, Louisville led 46 – 41 at the half.

Indiana took the lead two minutes into the second half on a jumper by freshman James Blackmon Jr. They would push the lead to four, 52 – 48.

Chris Jones made sure the lead didn’t last for long. He made two jumpers, one of which was a three-pointer, to give the Cardinals the lead back for good.

Rick Pitino has said Jones is at his best when he is taking good shots. That is exactly what he did tonight displaying a mix of layups, mid-range jumpers, and solid three-point shooting (2 of 4 from three-point range).

The Hoosiers would keep the game close trailing 65 – 60 with 10:27 to play, but the Cardinals showed their power by closing the game on a 29 – 14 run to win 94 – 74 in the annual Jimmy V. Classic. Louisville improved to 8 – 0 while the Hoosiers dropped to 7 – 2.

Offensive rebounding and pressure defense were the overwhelming keys to the Cardinals’ victory. They corralled 24 offensive rebounds compared to just 10 for the Hoosiers. Indiana committed 19 turnovers to 13 for Louisville.

Indiana coach Tom Crean was unsure of how his team would control Montrezl Harrell. He found out that he did not have the answer. Harrell was dominant. The junior forward posted his third straight double-double going off for 21 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. His 7 dunks broke the Louisville record held by the great Pervis Ellison.

This game featured two of the best backcourts in the country. Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell versus the Cardinals’ backcourt of Chris Jones and Terry Rozier. Blackmon Jr. came in to the game averaging 19.5 points (highest in the nation for a freshman). Ferrell averaged 17.3 points per game.

Blackmon Jr. and Ferrell finished with a combined 31 points on 12 of 29 shooting. Prior to the game Blackmon Jr. had made 54.2 percent of this three pointers. He made only 1 of 9 against the Cardinals.

The backcourt tandem of Chris Jones and Terry Rozier was in control the entire game as they combined for 50 points. Jones played his best game of the season finishing with 24 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Rozier had his best shooting night of the season hitting 5 of his 8 three pointers in route to scoring a career-high 26 points.

Pitino has spoken about the need to develop the Cardinals’ bench. Mangok Mathiang, Anas Mahmoud, and Jaylen Johnson all contributed off of the bench. All came into the game and provided energy off the bench to help the Cardinals.

Mathiang missed the last game against Florida International with a sprained ankle. He showed no lingering effects against Indiana. His energy helped the Cardinals as he blocked 4 shots and scored 6 points.

The Cardinals return to the KFC Yum Center to play the UNC Wilmington Seahawks Sunday at 6:00. The Seahawks are coached by former Cardinals’ assistant Kevin Keats.

 

NOTE: The Cardinals received great news earlier in the day as it was announced that freshman Shaqquan Aaron would be eligible beginning December the 20th when the Cardinals travel to Bowling Green to square off against the Hilltoppers

Louisville Rolls past Florida International 82 – 57

One look at the final score of Louisville’s game Friday evening against visiting Florida International and you might think it was just another normal game for the No. 5 Cardinals. However, Coach Rick Pitino was not completely happy with the performance. “We did some good things tonight, the thing that is missing from this basketball team and why they can’t go from good to very good is turnovers. We tried to make some passes tonight. We did a good job working inside to out, but our turnovers, and it is from our best players, is the reason we are not scoring more, or playing better.”, Pitino said.

Louisville committed a season-high 20 turnovers with 10 of them coming from starters Montrezl Harrell, Chris Jones, and Chinanu Onuaku.

Pitino was asked what is contributing to the turnovers and the below-average offense and he said, “Just very poor passing, poor ball-fakes, poor pivots, guys are open and they are trying to force it.”

On whether there is a lack of patience offensively he said, “I think these guys like to score more than teams past, the other teams really loved to pass the ball and what happens is you score more points that way. You get just as many shots, but you shoot a higher percentage. This team hunts points and that is why they don’t look as good as the past three years.”

No matter how the Cardinals are playing the fact remains that they will go into their matchup Tuesday night against Indiana in Madison Square Garden undefeated at 7 – 0. It is a part of the annual Jimmy V. Classic. This will be the first matchup between the two border states since 2003.

There were some positives to take away from this game. For the first time this season Chris Jones made 50 percent of his field goal attempts. Jones finished with 11 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals.

Montrezl Harrell had another strong performance finishing with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. It was Harrell’s second consecutive double-double. The only negative was his 5 turnovers.

David Levitch was a surprise starter for the Cardinals starting in place of Terry Rozier. Pitino was asked why Rozier was not in the starting lineup and he said it was because Terry had missed a class during the week. Rozier scored 12 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the play of sophomore Anton Gill. It was Gill’s birthday and he put up the best offensive performance of his young career. He scored 15 points on a solid 6 of 10 shooting.

Florida International was led by Dennis Mavin’s 15 points on 7 of 16 shooting.

Blackshear and Rozier Lead Cardinals to Win Over Ohio State

With one look at the box score from Tuesday night’s matchup between No. 5 ranked Louisville and No. 14 Ohio State one could determine that it was not a pretty one. However, to watch it in person, you could realize the beauty of this game lied in the defense being played by both teams.

Louisville dominated the first half with the type of hard-nosed defense that fans have come to expect from a Rick Pitino coached team. The Cardinals held the Buckeyes to 6-for-26 shooting in the first half for a paltry 23.1% while jumping out to a 35 – 18 halftime lead.

The only negative for the Cardinals in the first half was the foul trouble of both of their big men, Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang. Pitino has been searching for bench help during the early part of the season. Tonight’s star off of the bench was a surprising one in freshman, Anas Mahmoud. Mahmoud played 24 minutes and finished with 3 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.

Wayne Blackshear’s biggest knock during his U of L career has been that he hasn’t showed up in the big games. He changed that perception tonight by coming up huge to the tune of 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in a team-high 38 minutes. He finished 4-for-8 from three point range.

Terry Rozier struggled with his shot the entire night, but came up big when it mattered most hitting two threes and making a driving layup in the last 3:49 of the game. Offensively his game was offensive for most of the game. However, he did contribute in a big way in other areas. He finished with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

Pitino had this to say about Rozier, “He took the big shot when we were up three to give us the lead, and that’s a hell of a thing for a guy like that to do. I thought Terry Rozier, who didn’t have his jump shot early, was getting every rebound, making big plays, and I thought he was great down the stretch.”

The Cardinals got a scare in the second half when Rozier hurt his hand and was seen holding it during the action. Timeout was called and he went over to see the trainer, Fred Hina. It turned out to be only a dislocated finger. He got it popped in place and was immediately ready to go back in the game.

Ohio State kept chopping at the lead eventually getting to within 4 points with 30 seconds remaining. Louisville native, DeAngelo Russell, led the charge in the after picking up his fourth foul early in the second half. Russell finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Buckeye point guard Shannon Scott came in to the game leading the country with 10.4 assists per game. He was held to 0 assists and committed 5 turnovers.

Louisville’s defense was not as sharp in the second half, but did enough to hold off the surging Buckeyes. They held Ohio State to 30.4 percent shooting for the game.

The fifth-ranked Cardinals return to the KFC Yum Center on Friday evening to face Florida International.

Cards Struggle in Pitino’s 700th Win

Article by Jason Sheehan – Louisville coach Rick Pitino has coached in 945 games in his college career. He has had enough experience to

Article by Jason Sheehan
Article by Jason Sheehan

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.

Louisville Rolls 87 – 26 over Savannah State

Rick Pitino’s Louisville teams have always prided themselves on strong defense. Whether it is man-to-man, zone, or the press their goal is to make it a nightmare for the opponent to put the ball in the basket. Tonight their defense was a nightmare for Savannah State. The No. 6 ranked Cardinals nearly pitched a shutout in the first half holding the visiting Tigers to seven points.

The first basket made by the Tigers came on a free throw by Saadiq Muhammad with 4:02 remaining. Their first field goal came with 1:23 left. They finished the half shooting an anemic 2 for 26 while falling behind 41 – 7.

Savannah State came in to the game on a two game winning streak, but ran into a buzz saw. The Louisville defense dominated the first half by blocking six shots and forcing 15 turnovers.

In describing what he felt about the blowout Pitino said, “Well, if you coach long enough you see a lot of different things. That was a very unusual game tonight, to say the least. I thought our pressure was good. I thought our zone-man was very good, and the other team just had one of those nights where they could not hit a shot. They are not as bad as they played tonight. It was just one of those unfortunate things for them.”

Montrezl Harrell led the way for the Cardinals with 15 points and 9 rebounds. He continued his solid free throw shooting with a 7 for 8 performance.

Chinanu Onuaku continued his strong early season performance finishing with 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

Pitino was asked what he would take away from this game and about watching the film. He said, “I always love watching film and breaking it up. This will be the first time since I’ve been at Louisville that I will not watch the game film. I will not watch it. I want them to concentrate to Cleveland State. We always do edits every game, this will be the first time… we will not watch that game. It will be false security. You get really nothing out of this and you feel bad for the other team more than anything else.”

Cleveland State is the Cardinals’ next opponent in the Global Sports Showcase Wednesday at the KFC Yum Center. The Vikings are 2 – 2 and were defeated by Savannah State in overtime 87 – 83 last week.

Stifling Defense Helps Cards Take down Marshall 85 – 67

Shots were not falling for the No. 7 ranked Louisville Cardinals against the Thundering Herd of Marshall. Louisville shot 39.5 percent from the field including an abysmal 3 of 22 from three point range. They struggled at the line as well finishing at 63 percent for the evening. When shots aren’t falling the defense better step up. Tonight the game was one at the defensive end.

Led by all-over-the-court pressure defense by starting guards Chris Jones and Terry Rozier and the solid interior defense by Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang, the Cardinals were able to dismantle Marshall 85 – 67.

Jones and Rozier struggled from the field shooting a combined 10 for 34. Rick Pitino was not happy with his guards saying, “Our guards tonight didn’t play like veterans because they were affected too much by their missed shots and they lost focus of what’s most important – and that’s winning the game.”

Pitino was extremely pleased with the interior play of both Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang. Onuaku finished with his second consecutive double-double. He scored 10 points on 5 of 5 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Mathiang was certain to be a starter at the beginning of the year. However, he has embraced the role of being an energy guy coming off of the bench. He played his best game of the early season corralling 11 rebounds and blocking a season-high 3 shots. Mathiang provided the interior defense the Cardinals will need as the season progresses.

Pitino offered his praise of both big men, “I thought Mangok and Nanu were both terrific. They understood the game plan very well and that’s why we didn’t lose the lead. That’s why we enhanced the lead. They understood it. They weren’t interested in shooting jump shots. They knew who they were. They knew that rebounding was crucial and they did their job.”

Junior forward, Montrezl Harrell, played only 24 minutes due to foul trouble. Harrell was sent to the bench after picking up his fourth foul early in the second half. He did finish with a respectable 12 points and 8 rebounds.

Pitino was not as concerned as most coaches would be with Harrell’s foul trouble saying, “It was good to play without Montrezl [Harrell] to see if we could be in a situation where we didn’t lose the lead. That was good.”

For the second straight game Senior Wayne Blackshear played with an incredible amount of energy. He was all over the floor in the first half. Just like Rozier and Jones his shot was not falling, but he stuffed the box score in other areas. Blackshear finished with 16 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, blocked 2 shots, and had 4 steals.

Ryan Taylor had a near triple-double for Marshall finishing with 15 points, 18 rebounds, and 8 assists. However, he made only 2 of his 14 shot attempts.

Louisville is now 3 – 0 on the regular season. Marshall lost for the first time this season.

Louisville continues it 6 game home stand Monday night against Savannah State.

No. 7 Louisville overpowers Jacksonville State 88 – 39

In No. 7 Louisville’s first two games we have seen Montrezl Harrell play like the preseason All-American he was projected to be. We have seen Terry Rozier live up to the preseason hype as the man who will pick up as the next great Louisville guard. However, according to Rick Pitino, neither of these two have been the best

Photo by Jason Sheehan
Photo by Jason Sheehan

player on the court so far this season. That honor would go to senior guard, Chris Jones. Jones has struggled with his shot going 8 for 26 in the first two games. Howerver, it is his passing and his defense that has Pitino so pleased with him. He finished tonight’s game with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Pitino said, “I think Chris was brilliant the other night. I think Chris was great tonight. I think everything you see happening is Chris Jones making it happen. He’s playing like a true point guard. I thought his play in the first half was outstanding. Sometimes statistics don’t (tell the story) then you wake up tomorrow morning and if you weren’t at the game [you wouldn’t know] without question that he was the best player on the floor tonight.”

Photo by Jason Sheehan
Photo by Jason Sheehan

Jones’ in-your-face full court defense is reminiscent of former Louisville guards Andre McGee, Preston Knowles, and Peyton Siva. He has that bulldog mentality frustrates the opponents and he does it without fouling. The biggest difference with Jones this year is the extra weight he has cut. Whether it is around ten pounds as Pitino has said or close to twenty as Jones has said, the fact of the matter is that he is a much quicker player than last season. When asked about what makes Jones so good at getting steals, Pitino had this to say, “Well, I really think the quickness factor really helped him this year. He got so much quicker with his hands, quicker with his feet.”

Photo by Jason Sheehan
Photo by Jason Sheehan

All five starters scored in double figures for the Cardinals as they cruised to an 88 – 39 victory in the Global Sports Showcase. Harrell once again led the Cardinals with 15 points to go along with his 7 rebounds. The one thing missing from his game tonight was his newfound outside shot. He missed all three of his three point attempts after making 3 of 4 in the first game against Minnesota.

Pitino was not completely pleased with Harrell’s performance and his reliance on his outside shot saying, “You know, I think after movement, it’s good. I just want to see him get some post-up plays on the break. I think he’s taking away a little bit too much of the strength of his game but I think after movement, going from inside to outside is fine. Going from outside to inside is no good. I think he’s got to work inside to out. Like tonight, he didn’t get any post-ups tonight on the break and I think that’s a strength of his. And I’d like

Jason Sheehan
Jason Sheehan

to see him get six to eight points a game just on easy baskets.” Terry Rozier once again played a solid game finishing with 13 points and 4 rebounds. Rozier also made the most electrifying play of the night early in the second half. He had the ball stolen from him in the lane and then hustled back to block the layup attempt by Gamecock guard Avery Moore. Wayne Blackshear bounced back after a disappointing performance in the first game. Blackshear had a nice all-around game finishing with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. His 9 rebounds are a career- high. Pitino praised Blackshear’s performance tonight saying, “The best part was his passing. You know I was joking around in the walk-through today. I said, ‘Get to the corner. Wayne will get his first assist. And he took it personally tonight. He made four or five terrific passes. I though Wayne was great tonight.

I really did. I though he played a total game. He rebounded, he passed, he shot, he made a big-time dunk. That’s about as high as I’ve seen him jump. So I think Wayne was great tonight.” Chinanu Onuaku got his second straight start and used his size to his advantage against the overmatched Gamecocks. He finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Louisville led 13 – 10 with 14:39 remaining in the first half. They took control and closed out the half on by outscoring the Gamecocks 37 to 10. Jacksonville State would score the first basket in the second half, but would not score again for nearly 11 minutes as Louisville pushed its lead to 51. Darion Rackley was the only Gamecock player in double figures finishing with 11 points. Louisville held the Gamecocks to 28 percent shooting from the field and destroyed them on the boards 60 to 26.

Louisville continues the Global Sports Showcase against Marshall Thundering Herd this Friday at 9:00 in the KFC Yum Center.