Louisville’s positive shine in their first loss of the season
It’s hard to say that good things can from a loss, but last night I thought that Louisville showed several positive takeaways from a tough loss on the road at Purdue. First for the positives. The biggest positive for me was the play of VJ King. We have all been waiting for the five star talent of VJ King to show up. So far this season King has struggled on the offensive end of the floor and hasn’t offered much anywhere else. But against Purdue, VJ King finally got going for the Cardinals. King hit two threes in the first half when they desperately needed, and then poured in 11 more in the second half. King did take several bad shots throughout the game, but was a big source of offense and rebounding and finished the game with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Anas Mahmoud also played much better for the Cardinals after really struggling in wins against St. Francis & Southern Illinois. Going up against two seven footers, Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms, Mahmoud did a great job of staying aggressive around the rim and getting to the free throw line. Mahmoud did unfortunately struggle to knock down shots in the paint, having a lot of his shots affected by the length and size of Haas and Haarms.
Louisville also did a great job of rebounding the ball, which against a team with legit size like Purdue isn’t easy. Louisville was able to win the rebounding battle 41-39, which is a big win for the Cards in my books. Now for the negatives. Louisville struggled mightily to shoot the ball from just about everywhere on the floor, especially in the first half. Purdue did a great job of getting hands in shooters faces on close outs, and making sure they kept Louisville out of the paint. Louisville fed right into what Purdue wanted to do defensively taking about as bad of shots as you could get throughout both halves, while getting almost no penetration instead settling for poor outside shots. The foul call discrepancy played a huge factor in the final outcome of the game as Purdue shot a total of 32 free throws, compared to Louisville’s 14. Both Anas Mahmoud & Ray Spalding picked up 4 fouls midway through the second half, forcing David Padgett to turn to inexperienced freshmen Malik Williams & Lance Thomas, both of whom showed they weren’t ready to play. Even with Williams & Thomas being forced into action, Louisville’s freshmen saw a decrease in minutes as Padgett chose to give more minutes to his experienced starters. Jordan Nwora led all freshmen with 13 minutes played.
All in all, Louisville struggled in a lot of places throughout the night and was lucky to lose by just 9. But on the same hand, the game could have swung the other way and Louisville easily could have won the game had a few shots gone there way. Louisville will need to clean a few things up, but this loss should go a long way in helping them prepare for their tough ACC schedule.
Easy missed shots inside the paint kill the Cards
Playing against seven footers in college basketball is not as common as you may think. Going up against two on the same team is practically unheard of. Louisville had their hands full Tuesday night trying to get shots up over Purdue’s Isaac Haas, Maat Haarms, as well as forward Vince Edwards, all of whom are shot blocking machines. Louisville thrives when being able to get penetration inside from their guards and kicking it over to big men Anas Mahmoud and Ray Spalding for easy dunks, but doing that with big men who are shot blockers proved to be too challenging. While Purdue finished the game with just five blocks, (4 from Haarms) Haas, Haarms, and Vince Edwards were all able to challenge and change a lot of shots which made it very difficult to score inside the paint. Louisville finished the game shooting just 12 for 36 on shots inside of 10 feet, meaning Purdue owned the paint on defense. With as talented of a front court as Louisville has that can’t be the case moving forward.
Where in the world is Quentin Snider?
One of my big takeaways from Tuesday nights game against Purdue was the poor performance from Louisville’s senior point guard Quentin Snider. The unfortunate thing about the play of Snider was it wasn’t his first bad game of the season. Snider hasn’t looked like himself through the first five games, especially shooting the ball. So far, including the matchup with Purdue, Snider has shot a combined 13/44 from the field only reaching double digits twice. Against Purdue I kept waiting for Q to get his teammates going, and then himself going but unfortunately that never happened. To his credit, he did splash a big three when Louisville desperately needed it late in the second half that gave the Cards the lead, but other than that he was quiet the entire game and has been throughout the season. Q started the season similar for the Cardinals last year, but was able to get going later in the non-conference slate and into the conference schedule. Louisville desperately needs Quentin to step up and be the senior leader and playmaker that he has shown to be over the last four years.
UofL will have another extremely tough test this Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center as they face off with former Big East foe Seton Hall. SHU (5-1) returns their top four scorers from last season including potential Big East player of the year candidate Angel Delgado. The Pirates currently have 4 players averaging double figures.
Jacob Lane joined The Cardinal Connect in August of 2017 after previously writing for CardinalSports.com on the Rivals Network. Jacob covers anything and everything Louisville Cardinals. Follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Lane08