LEXINGTON, Ky., March 24, 2013 — Before No. 1 seed, University of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino faced Colorado State’s Larry Eustachy’s team Saturday afternoon, each coach had given what turned out to be a memorable quote. Pitino said that the Colorado team was one out of a bunch in the tournament that he “considered dangerous.”
Meanwhile, talking about the Cardinals, Eustachy was quoted as saying, he couldn’t give the name of a single Cardinal team member.
By the time the final buzzer, Pitino definitely knew that the Rams had been a dangerous opponent, who kept his team running at top speed the entire time, and Eustachy doubtless had a list of Cardinal names to put in his memory book.
The visiting Rams took an early lead at five minutes in with forward/center Colton Iverson taking a finger in the eye in a mix-up that could have been worse than it was.
Louisville had expanded the lead to five points half way through the first half, and the utter physicality of the game was amazing. The unbeatable team of guards, Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, kept the boards hot, and with five minutes to go, the Cardinal lead had grown to eight.
Rams Lead Briefly
The score switched back and forth for a brief period of time. When you consider that the Rams had outshot the Cardinals 64% to 59%, yet the half ended with Louisville on top by 45-31, sometimes stats just don’t make a lot of sense. Yet Russ Smith had accounted for 18 points and Iverson, the star rebounder for the Rams, just couldn’t keep up the press.
The second half was a blistering opening with the Cardinals kicking it up a notch, amassing a 21-point lead seven minutes in, again thanks to Seva and Smith. Colorado, at that point, was still shooting 54%, one commentator saying that “they’d have to shoot 84% to overcome Louisville,” which was basically correct. More importantly, they successfully shut down senior guard Dorian Green, and Louisville was off to the races.
Smith’s foul shots kept it a 20-point lead with 8 1/2 minutes to go, and Wayne Blackshear’s three-pointer from the outside edge upped the ante to 69-48. And the Rams were still carding a satisfactory 58% from the field.
Turnovers Wreak Havoc on Rams
Again turnovers were a major predicament for Colorado who committed 20 to only nine from Louisville. Fouls were pretty even, all things considered, and scoring by the Cardinals was spread out with Siva (10), Smith (27), Gorgui Dieng (12), and Montrezi Harrell (11), all ending up in double figures. Dieng is a 23 year old senior from Senegal, who definitely knows what he is doing, and at 6’11” he’s a good man to have on your side,
For the Rams, Iverson had 9 points, Daniel Bejarano 10, and Greg Smith 14.
Coaching Styles and Gestures
Even with things going his team’s way, Coach Pitino found a couple of occasions to jump into the air, shake his fist at someone, with never a hair out of place nor his blood-red tie rumpled. His opponent, Coach Eustachy in a blue sweatsuit also leaped off the bench on occasion, gesturing wildly and trying to ramp his players up more.
The Louisville fans turned Rupp Arena into a veritable sea of red, which was not lost on the Colorado guys who must have felt savagely overwhelmed most of the time. After such a nearly perfect game, Coach Pitino was heard to say characteristically, “We have to play better; we were good on the floor, but we can do better.” Not sure that quote will go home with Larry Eustachy, who will take his hard working team back to the rarefied air of Colorado for a rest.
For the Cardinals, it’s business as usual as they take on the Oregon Ducks next Friday, March 29, following their win over St. Louis 74-57.
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