It's about this time of year that I get "up to here" with the basketball clichés I've heard after watching countless games on TV, including reruns of Card games. For that reason I found the second Cincinnati-Louisville game fun to watch - a little stressful, but fun.
That game was begging for the run of the mill "they match up well size-wise" or "they play an up-tempo game". But praise to the announcing team of Greg Anthony and Kevin Harlan they kept the comments descriptive without the Dick Vitale-like banalities. You know what I mean "p-t-p'er", "diaper dandy" and incessant praise for Dick's favorite coach, usually Bobby Knight or Mike Krzyzewski.
Louisville was the victor in that game but I still haven't figured out how they won.
They didn't "dominate the paint", "dominate the offensive glass" or "take it to the hole". The Cards didn't have a "hot hand" or "win the free throw shooting contest". To make matters worse they didn't "shoot the pill" exceptionally well.
Actually they were out-rebounded by eight and shot only 40% from the field and 27 percent from "long range". Luckily they shot "an anemic" 50 percent from the "charity line". Any worse and they would have "had a long bus ride home".
The team's best three-point shooter, Wayne Blackshear, "never got going" and along with his counterpart at the "three position", Luke Hancock, didn't make a field goal. Between them they had two points, 2 rebounds, six personal fouls, one assist, two turnovers, two blocks and one steal in 45 minutes of playing time. The pair "live and die by their outside shot" and in the Cincy game they failed to "light up the score board" or anything else for that matter.
Thank goodness Virginia Tech fired Seth Greenberg in 2012 and Montrezl Harrell changed his choice of colleges from Tech to UofL. Against the Bearcats (the ugliest animal on the planet) 'Trez" had 36 percent (21) of Louisville's points and 28 percent (10) of its rebounds. Oddly, both Harrell and Stephan Van Treese had more offensive rebounds than defensive (6-4 and 4-3).
So how did the Cards win? They "took Cincinnati out of their offense". In spite of scoring eight less points than in the previous loss to Cincinnati 58-66, the team played "stifling" defense from beginning to end. Cincy's star player, Sean Kilpatrick scored 28 points but took 26 shots to do it.
He wasn't "automatic", "money" or "burying the three-point shot" shooting only 35 percent from the field. Like the previous game he went to the line often (nine times) and scored seven from the "charity stripe". He played the entire game but wasn't "instant offense".
For the Cardinals it was "gut-check time". They "needed this win" to "improve their stock" for the NCAA Tournament seeding. One thing for sure UofL didn't employ a "best defense is a good offense" scenario. Their offense was only slightly better than Cincinnati. "They just know how to win". In other words if your team hits a shot at the buzzer to put the team ahead you win. This wasn't a "barn burner" since no fires were reported after the game and "every possession didn't count". Actually, most possessions for both teams came up empty.
But the University of Louisville has already shown that "defense wins championships".
Maybe they can do it again.