Category Archives: Jason Sheehan

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.