men's basketball finding their groove in acc play
By Mike Gilpatrick
January 17th, 2017
January 17th, 2017
The Louisville Cardinals aren’t too bad.
Two and a half weeks ago, many thought the Louisville Cardinals were dead in the water. They had lost in an embarrassing fashion to their arch-rival. A few believed they were an NIT team.
If it was football, that lopsided 61-90 loss would keep them out of contention. But basketball is a longer season. They only look at the wins and losses. Louisville seems to have found their groove, during ACC play.
Louisville is 4-1 in ACC play. They’re currently second in the conference. Two games were against ranked opponents, on the road. The loss was to No. 25 Clemson, in overtime. The win was against No. 23 Florida State. It snapped the Seminole’s 28-game home win streak. It was also the first impressive road win. Then, last night, Louisville defeated Notre Dame in South Bend, for the first time in 24 years.
The reason: Better shooting.
Before, Louisville was taking pot shots, quickly. They were taking shots, but not making them. After the Kentucky game, the team hit .448 from the field. Deng Adel was connecting on 46.5 percent of tries. Quentin Snider on just 41.5. Three-point shooting wasn’t working.
Then they began playing better. Adel’s .465 increased to .484. Snider’s went to .443, though his three-point percentage improved by 28 points. Louisville seemed to find their groove. As a team, the Cards improved to .456 from the field, and .348 beyond the arc.
One reason was Ryan McMahon. The guard provided a spark, and three-point shooting off the bench. He got the offense going against Florida State, playing 14 minutes, and making three threes, and two rebounds, and led the Cards 13-point comeback in Tallahassee. He connected on a couple more threes against Virginia Tech. Then three more in South Bend.
Their hot streak improved their RPI. They’re 17th right now. It’s up from the 36th- position held after Kentucky.
While better shooting has paid dividends, Louisville needs to improve on the glass. They’re not rebounding like they should. The past three games, the Cards have 34 team boards, each game. While it got them past Virginia Tech, it was less than Florida State or Notre Dame. Better shooting may not be enough to beat the ACC juggernauts, like Virginia, Duke, or North Carolina.
But if Louisville improves on the boards, this can be a fun team to watch, and they’ll win more games, against good teams. They could win a couple tournament games as well. They’ll compete against Miami. They may be able to hold their own against Virginia.
They’re not a bad team. They’re finding their groove in the ACC.