A couple of thoughts about tonight’s game with No. 5 Louisville.
First, if you’re going, get there early, parking will be a major issue. The game has been sold out for a while and parking, as usual at TD Arena, will be at a premium.
As far the game. Here are a few keys in my opinion.
Can Willis Hall, Adjehi Baru and Anthony Thomas stay out of foul trouble. Baru struggled with foul trouble during his freshman season, but has appeared to make the adjustments in his game. Baru had a great game against Baylor and stayed out of foul trouble, major reason for the upset.
The Cardinals will be without their 6-10 center Gorgui Dieng, who is out with a broken wrist. He had more than 120 blocks last season, so that should help the Cougars in the paint. The Cougars are a vastly improved rebounding team from a year ago.
Willis Hall, must play like he’s been playing the last four games. The Cougars will need his toughness and hustle in the paint for second-chance points.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino has made a living and a reputation playing pressure basketball.
Historically, Pitino’s teams are all about full-court pressure, forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets as a result. It’s crucial that the Cougars take care of the basketball, especially after made baskets by the Cardinals.
Unfortunately, the Cougars have not done a great job of taken care of the basketball early in the season. The Cougars averaging more than 16 turnovers a game, which is about as many turnovers per game as the Cardinals are forcing.
The Cardinals also try to wear down their opponents’ backcourt with their pressure. Andrew Lawrence and Anthony Stitt are really the Cougars only true ball handlers. Cougars coach Doug Wojcik will have to figure out ways to rest them and let someone else do some of the ball handling.
The strength of both teams is in their backcourt.
Peyton Siva (11.7 ppg, 6.0 apg) and Russ Smith (19.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.0 apg) might be the best backcourt in the country. Smith is especially tough to defend.
The Cougars need to make them work for every point they get.
If you can’t make the game, keep up with action by following me on Twitter @APMILLER_PandC.
See you at The Arena