Around the 2 minute of the 2nd half, Rick Pitino removed his sports coat in anger; the bucket, however, remained closed for the No. 18 Cardinals as they fell 58-51 to South Florida. The Cardinals shot under 35% for a third straight game Wednesday night and dropped to seventh place in the Big East.
"I'm not going to answer that," Rick Pitino responded when asked about offensive inefficiently.
It may be time to answer that question or face a harsh reality. Whichever you choose, let this soak in for a second: Louisville was beaten in every major statistical category, including a 40-29 deficiently on the boards.
It was supposed to be a night of joy & celebration in honor of the two (excuse me) three, Seniors, that have given everything that they had, to the University of Louisville basketball. Instead, it was a night in which Jawanza Poland came off the bench for South Florida and had 16 points.
It's quite challenging to find anything more anemic the Louisville's half-court offense, actually there isn't anything. The Cardinals shot 27% from the field and were 1-9 beyond the stripe. Additionally, only three players shot better than 50%, one of those only took 1 shot.
"We just gotta put the ball in the basket," Guard Russ Smith said, "We got the plays, now the ball just has to go in,"
Seniors Chris Smith & Kyle Kuric led all scorers with 13 points. Kyle Kuric hit a three with 39 seconds left which cut the led to 3, this would be the last field goal of the game, as the Cards fouled Toarlyn Fitspatrick who sunk both free throws; pushing the lead back to 5.
Kyle Kuric said it was more than simply putting the ball in the basket.
"We are not getting out on the break as much as we need to," The senior said following the loss.
The Cardinals only got 5 points in the fast break. This played in the Bulls favor, as they preferred to slow the tempo of the game down. Having held their last 5 opponents to under sixty points.
"You're not going to get them to play fast, nobody's been able to," Pitino said following the loss, "We did everything we could, except we didn't rebound,"
Louisville was completely crushed on the boards, in fact, around the 2 minute mark they were being out rebounded 35-12. Pitino stated that he was going to add some size to the line-up and this may additionally help the offense.
"I'm going to try to get Angel ready, even though he makes a lot of mistakes. I gotta get him ready going into this tournament, because I need another shooter," Pitino remarked, " I gotta teach Kyle how to play the 2, and I gotta get Angel ready, because he has looked better in practice,"
Angel Nunez is a 6'7 Freshman Forward from New York (seen left). He has shown that he can shoot the ball a few times, but has also had performances like his 0-3 performance last night. This would mean that Chris Smith would be shuffling out of the line-up, Kuric would move to 2 spot and Nunez would replace Kuric. Interesting.
Despite this, their seems to be, once again, more questions than answers for this Cardinals basketball team.
That's not good.
Whatever answers need to be found, they need to be found now. Louisville faces it's toughest test of the season when they face #2 Syracuse in New York on Saturday, this will be the final regular season game. After that it's on to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tourney, then to the NCAA Tournament.
"We can't afford anymore losses," Guard Russ Smith said, "A loss could result in not playing anymore"
On a night where one team earned its way into the Tournament in South Florida, the other (Louisville) may have hurt it's seeding...badly.
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