Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Halves

What an interesting game last night between Louisville and Villanova. The game is easily summarized by looking at each half, a first half that was dominated by Louisville, a second half that saw 'Nova flex some muscle and show some guts.

Louisville came out ready to play. Pitino had on his white suit. The number 4 team in the nation was in town, along with a national television audience. After a disappointing national TV showcase a few Saturdays ago against Kentucky, Louisville looked like they were not going to let this one end the same way.

Louisville came out running a hellacious full court trap that was giving 'Nova fits immediately. To the point where there were several straight possessions where they couldn't even inbound the ball, throwing wild, desperate passes to avoid a 5 second call that were flying out of bounds and into Louisville hands and basically anywhere else that wasn't another Villanova player. It was getting to the point that I was borderline embarrassed, watching my team continually fail to run a successful inbounds play. 'Nova committed 17 first half turnovers despite only averaging 13 a game on the season. Louisville complemented the D nicely with their size, getting the ball deep in the post on offense and absolutely controlling the boards, which is something 'Nova hasn't really been concerned with to this point in the season. Despite being generally undersized and frequently running 4 gaurds, by getting everyone committed to rebounding the Wildcats had built a +7 rebound per game margin for the season. Louisville used their size and that defense to control the boards and the tempo of the game, and 'Nova looked lost. The Cardinals sprinted out to a 17 point lead, and despite a late push from the 'Cats, took a 7 point lead to the half.

And then Scottie Reynolds happened.

Reynolds scored 30 of his 36 points in the second half, including 'Nova's final 16 points over the last six minutes of the game. And he did it from all over the court, nailing 3's, getting into the lane for layups, and parading to the foul line. Some people knock Scottie from time to time for his shot selection, decision making, and lack of progression from his standout freshman season, and some of these complaints are valid, but man is there something special about this kid. With Scottie leading the way, the rest of the 'Cats seemed to loosen up and they began to play the kind of basketball we've come to expect from coach Wright and the 'Cats. A Reynolds 3 put 'Nova up 1 with 14:10 left in the 2nd half, and they didn't look back. They staved of a few last Louisville pushes, slowly extended the lead, and were able to come away with a 92-84 win.

It was a good, gutty win for the 'Cats (15-1,4-0), overcoming a hostile environment, a hungry team, and a tough first half to come out on top. It's the kind of win you like to see your team get, not only for the W itself, but also because they demonstrated the ability to win these types of games. The win pushed 'Nova to the top of the Big East standings, and this team with a good mix of youth and upperclassmen continues to grow together. With the great roster, great coach, and last year's Final Four run to build off of, hopes are high in 'Nova Nation.

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

  1. scottie went off last night. that was an awesome performance.