By: Jason Krell
After a shocking 0-3 start, it seemed like a trip to Maui was just what the Cards needed to wake up and get back on track. Apparently not. Going winless in the Maui Invitational, fans are still in search of answers as to what is wrong with this team and how long they’ll have to put up with this poor performance.
The ACC/Big 10 challenge has taken place since 1999 and continued on Tuesday evening when the #22 ranked Terapins traveled to Louisville. Maryland came into this game outscoring their opponents by an average of 21.4 points so to say the Cards would have their hands full is an understatement. Shooting an impressive 50% from the field heading into this matchup, seniors Donta Scott and Hakim Hart were certainly ones projected to lead the Terps in scoring.
Rough From the Jump
The Cards never found themselves in the lead as the Terapins jumped to a quick 14-point advantage thus killing any momentum Kenny Payne and company had leading up to tip-off. Louisville once again finds themselves getting exposed on defense and simply forcing too many unnecessary shots on the opposite end of the floor. Senior Sydney Curry found himself not in the starting lineup for the second straight game and was replaced by JJ Traynor who is only averaging 6.2 points per game. Trailing by 11 at the half, the Cards found themselves in a very similar situation they’ve been in all year, digging themselves a hole they can’t get out of.
Second Half Horrors
If the Cards were planning on finally succeeding in a second-half comeback, it wasn’t going to be this contest. Shooting woes continued for the Cards after the break and the Terapins found themselves leading by as much as 33 with six minutes to play in regulation. All 14 Cardinals saw action in the second half but only El Ellis’ 15-point performance is worth mentioning. Ellis continues to carry the workload for this team with no signs of help coming any time soon.
Who’s To Blame?
Entering this year, no team from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, or SEC had started 0-7 (statistic courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info). Louisville broke the record books. Fingers can be pointed to a lot of individuals as to who is responsible for this horrific start, but this falls simply on the coaching staff. It is a coach’s job to prepare his or her team appropriately so they don’t end up playing like the Louisville team we’ve seen for the last seven games. Something is clearly not clicking for this team and there is by no means a lack of talent on this roster. Former head coach Chris Mack was able to accomplish more with less during his tenure in the ‘Ville so that leaves just one suspect. Kenny Payne continues to struggle in his inaugural season as head coach and a lot of fans are wondering if this was the right hire. Surely Rome wasn’t built in a day, but at least progress was made along the way. The Cardinals are now favored in just three of their remaining games (Florida A&M, Lipscomb, and Florida State).
The Cards will be back in action on Sunday 12/4 against Miami (Fla.) on the ACC Network before playing their first true road game of the year when they travel to Florida State on 12/10.
Photo Courtesy// Matthew Mueller