By Matt Bradshaw —
In the first round of the NIT, men’s basketball defeated Northern Kentucky 66-58. Despite the victory, the Cardinals were outplayed by the Norse for most of the contest.
Many Cardinal fans are crying for justice as Louisville has missed the big dance two out of the past three years. After a close contest with underdog Northern Kentucky in the NIT, here are three takeaways from Louisville’s performance.
Playing down to your opponent
Louisville led first-ranked Virginia by eight with two minutes to play. They have undoubtedly shown they can perform with the best of the best on a good day. The problem with this basketball team has been consistency.
The Norse out-shot and out-rebounded the Cardinals in the first half, spurring Louisville to work harder and play better in the second.
“We were resilient in the second half like we’ve been all year,” acting head coach David Padgett said. “I wasn’t surprised by that.”
With teams such as NKU, Albany, St. Francis and more this season, Louisville has played down to opponents in contests that should have been easy wins.
Effort is NIT a problem
After crushing losses to Virginia and Virginia Tech that ended the regular season, one might have expected Louisville to be down-in-the-dumps for the NIT.
The Cardinals proved this is certainly not the case, despite a lackluster first half. Eight different players ended up scoring and the team finished with 25 total bench points.
“I think the way they played tonight answers any question about whether or not they were interested in playing this game,” Padgett said. “They’ve been resilient all year, they did it again today.”
Adel and Spalding take charge
Deng Adel and Ray Spalding helped carry Louisville to victory amidst spotty play from the rest of the team. Effort was not a problem for the Cardinals, but scoring was.
“We couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively in the first half, so things were ugly,” Padgett said.
Adel and Spalding proved they can take charge of their team and keep things moving. The juniors finished with a combined 27 points and 17 rebounds.
You can follow Matt Bradshaw on Twitter @bradmatt8.
Photo by Taris Smith / The Louisville Cardinal