Seton Hall came into this game unranked, which made absolutely no sense to anyone who watches college basketball. With three potential All-Big East seniors in Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado & lethal scoring sophomore Myles Powell, Seton Hall came into the KFC Yum! Center looking to get back into the top 25 after knocking off #24 ranked Texas Tech midweek.
Louisville was on the other end of the spectrum. After barely falling to unranked Purdue in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Cards needed a win in their first big home test to stay in the top 25. David Padgett and the team said all the right things through the week after taking their first loss of the season, but going up against a tough New York team would be no cake walk, even with a huge crowd at home.
The Cardinals came out sloppy for the second straight game, turning the ball over again and again, letting Seton Hall get up 7-2 before forcing David Padgett to take a timeout in front a stunned home crowd. Slowly but surely the Cards and the crowd climbed back into the game taking the lead back from Seton Hall, and eventually getting up by as many as six in the second half.
VJ King, and Deng Adel continued their hot streaks on the offensive side of the ball, being joined for the first time this season by Quentin Snider. Playing aggressively for the first time this season, Q’s play gave the Cards a huge lift in the second half, helping them go on a big run that tied the game latel. But it was Desi Rodriguez who was unstoppable throughout the night, eventually hitting a crazy looking game winning layup and ripping the hearts out of everyone at the KFC Yum! Center, causing Louisville to drop their second in a row and fall out of the top 25 for the first time in 40 weeks.
Here are my three thoughts.
Desi Rodriguez was the best player on the floor and it wasn’t even close
Coming into Sunday’s game it seemed the Cards game plan would be largely centered on stopping Seton Hall big man Angel Delgado, a potential Big East Player of the Year Candidate, and the team’s best player. While Delgado played well, notching another double-double,it was Desi Rodriguez who exploded for a season high 29 points, including what turned out be the game winning layup over outstretched Anas Mahmoud with 8 seconds to go.
Rodriguez was unstoppable in the first half scoring 19 points on 7-9 shooting, taking advantage of Louisville’s turnover problems (six in the first eight minutes of the game) and relentlessly attacking the paint forcing Ray Spalding & Anas Mahmoud into foul trouble. Rodriguez shot eight free throws, making just three of those attempts, but his attack played a large part in keeping both big men off the floor for the majority of the half. The Cardinals adjusted brilliantly in the second half and while Rodriguez ended up scoring 10 points, the Cards kept him away from the free throw line and forced him into becoming more of a jump shooter.
In the end, Rodriguez was too much for the Cardinals, playing with an intensity level that the Cardinals could never seem to match. On top of his 29 points, the senior forward was able to stuff the stat sheet with 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists. With four senior leaders and several young complimentary pieces, Seton Hall is definitely a team to watch out for come march.Rodriguez could be in line for a year similar to what many people expected from Angel Delgado and should be talked about more for a potential Big East Player of the Year.
Louisville wins all the major statistical categories but one and it costs them the game.
If this game was on the ACC Extra Network+ and for some reason I could only watch it online but didn’t have a cable subscription to login and had to wait until after the game was over to see what happened (this sounds like a very real scenario. We are in 2017, almost 2018 why the HELL do we need logins to watch games. Put the damn games up for free. Rant over)
So after the game when I ask you what happened, you tell me that Louisville shot better than Seton Hall (from the field, 3PT line & FT line), out rebounded Seton Hall & Angel Delgado, AND Quentin Snider, VJ King, & Deng Adel combined for 49 points/17 points.. I’d more than likely guess Louisville won and quite honestly, I probably wouldn’t hesitate. So when I look at the score and see Louisville lost, what am I missing…
Louisville’s biggest achilles heel this season, turnovers.
Here’s a timeline of the Cardinals turnover problems against Seton Hall.. I think it tells the story
2 minutes into the first half: 3 turnovers
5 minutes into the first half: 4 turnovers:
8 minutes into the first half: 6 turnovers
Halftime: 8 turnovers
10 minutes into the second half: 12 turnovers (Seton Hall: 12 points off turnovers)
6 minutes into the second half: 16 turnovers
When you read that timeline and then go back up and read the scenario I laid out above, the picture becomes a lot more clear how Louisville lost this game. What’s even more crazy is how they only lost by 2. Even with Louisville winning every major statistical category, just like the Purdue game tuesday night, with a couple more made shots this game easily could have been a runaway blow out for Seton Hall. VJ King, Deng Adel, and Spading combined for 12 turnovers together, which was more than Seton Hall had as a team. In the first half Louisville was slow getting into sets and looked lethargic, which I thought led to several sloppy passes and easy steals for Seton Hall. In the second half when the Louisville got down I felt at times they rushed things and tried to go too fast, which made things even worse and gave Seton Hall a pretty easy advantage.
One thing is for sure, Louisville has to clean up the turnovers and they have to do it quick. When your starting five is made up of two seniors (senior point guard) two juniors and a sophomore, inexperience is not a good excuse in my book. And losing the turnover battle four times on the season, all at home. Do better, it’s that simple.
Quentin Snider IS back
Q must’ve read my post from the Purdue game, because that man balled out on Sunday! 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 turnover was exactly what the senior point guard needed to get going after an extremely slow start to the season. A couple of things instantly stood out for me after the game.
Number one, even though Q went 6-16 on the night disregard that. 16 shots means Snider was out hunting for his shot. Q came out aggressive, and really got going in the second half. His play was a huge confidence booster to not only him but also the rest of his team.
Number two, only one turnover. On a night where the entire team was practically giving the ball away Q showed what a senior point guard is supposed to do, take care of the damn ball.
Number three, this one isn’t so good 2 assists. I’m not so convinced that the quickness and agility training that Rick Pitino talked up all summer long has paid much dividends for Quentin Snider. So far I haven’t really seen much improvement in Q being able to break down defenses off the dribble and get into the paint, if anything I feel like it’s made him a bit slower more hesitant (am I crazy?). With him not being able to do that there hasn’t been a lot of kicking out to shooters for open threes, which means he hasn’t had big assists numbers. So far through six games Q’s assists totals have looked like this 3, 4, 3, 6, 6, 2.. I hate to be that guy, but the team needs more passing from Q, especially with prolific scorers like Deng Adel & VJ King on the wings.
Number four, Q was really good and if he continue to play like he did against a team with really good guards, Louisville could be in for a very good season.
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