By John Brady–
Louisville moved to 3-0 on the season after a blowout 80-39 win against the Miami of Ohio Redhawks on Sunday. There was only one lead change early in the game, and the Cardinals used a big first half run to put the game out of reach early. The Cards were led again in scoring by junior Russ Smith who finished with a game high 23 points. In the last two games, Smith has contributed 41 points without recording a single assist. Wayne Blackshear also had a big game, hid from behind the 3 point line shooting 4-7 and finishing with 14 points. Louisville frontcourt players—not including the guards—out rebounded the Redhawks 29-26.
In the previous game, Coach Rick Pitino compared Louisville’s field goal shooting to a baseball hitter in a slump. Conversely, after the Miami game, he was positive about the Cards’ overall play.
“That’s the best we’ve looked,” Pitino commented. “We needed to have a great game.”
The Cards played a complete game. They hit three pointers consistently, had 22 assists on 28 made baskets and only allowed 39 points from the opponent. So far defensively, the team has only allowed 16 assists on made baskets from opponents. That just goes to show how well the Cards have played using help from defense principles.
The only blemish of the Miami game was junior Luke Hancock’s continuing struggles with his shooting. Pitino believes Hancock needs to play away from home because he is “distracted.”
Hancock commented on this after the game.
“I’ve missed some shots and its just taking me a little while to get into a groove,” he admitted.
He continued on, discussing whether or not he believed his shooting would improve.
“Absolutely. I wouldn’t be allowed to shoot as many shots as I’ve been shooting; maybe I have to get more comfortable with that pace or whatever it is. The shots will start to fall.”
Next up for the Cards is the Bahamas “Battle for Atlantis” tournament, featuring what coach Pitino believes to be “the strongest field I’ve ever seen since I’ve been a coach.” Winning the Bahamas tournament will be difficult for the Cards with power basketball programs such as Memphis, Duke and Missouri also participating. However, Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng remains positive.
“We have one goal,” Dieng said, “to go into the Bahamas and win it. I believe we will be ready for that.”
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal