As the Cardinals open their postseason run for a third National Championship, all hands are on deck here at The Pinkie as both Rolf and Tomarken weigh in on today's game.
TOMARKEN: The Louisville Cardinals exerted their athleticism on Thursday afternoon, forcing Providence into 26 turnovers and capitalizing on a myriad of dunks in a 73-55 victory in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
ROLF: Earl Clark became the 60th Louisville Cardinal to reach the 1,000 career points club, leading the fifth-ranked and top seeded Louisville Cardinals in scoring (22), rebounds (10), and assists (6) whilst looking every bit like a potential NBA lottery pick.
Joining Earl with a 20-point game was freshman Samardo Samuels. SamSam had quite the game as well, finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Samuels presented quite a matchup problem for Providence, who plays only one man over 6'8", the odd looking 6'11" Randall Hanke. However, Hanke played sparingly and is not athletic enough to be much of a factor against Louisville
TOMARKEN: Despite going an abysmal 3-for-19 from three-point range, the Cards relied on Clark's game highs coming from a non-starting role, while Samardo Samuels tallied 22 points off 10-for-13 shooting to go with his seven rebounds.
Louisville led by 10 at the break, but allowed the Friars to creep within five at the first media timeout. UofL responded with a 13-4 run to effectively put the game out of reach and coasted down the stretch for the 18-point final margin.
ROLF: Terrence Williams had his worst game since coming back from his wrist injury but still managed to fill the stat sheet with six points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals, and a block. T-Will also had four turnovers, all of which were careless passes. However, considering how poorly he played, T-Will refused to let his offense alter his mindset. He still hit the glass hard, found open teammates, and defended well.
TOMARKEN: Providence’s Weyinmi Efejuku led the squad in scoring with 17 points as the Friars’ starting five could only muster 18 points for the game. The Friars will now sweat it out until Selection Sunday and hope to hear their name called by Gargantuan Greg Gumbel.
ROLF: With their win today, the top seeded Cardinals await the winner of the Villanova/Marquette game. Bobby E. will be here with a preview upon completion of that contest. Regardless of who wins, the Cardinals will take the floor Friday night at 7 pm on ESPN.
On to the honors:
ROLF'S GOOD: The play by Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels is obvious, but I'll go with Louisville's passing. The Cardinals finished with 20 assists on 30 field goals and quite frankly should have had more. The Cardinals missed many wide-open looks (Jerry Smith, I'm talkin' to you my man) off of good passing, which leads to the next category.
TOMARKEN'S GOOD: The Cards’ defensive pressure and ball spacing today were some of the best seen all season. UofL forced 26 Providence turnovers, while as Rolf mentions, the offensive side connected on 20 assists (out of a total of 30 baskets on the day). The game was orchestrated by Louisville’s tempo from the outset, and that style should carry them far in the tournament, unless...
ROLF AND TOMARKEN'S BAD: Turnovers. A combined 46 turnovers by both squads! Louisville committed 20 turnovers of their own, and 14 of them were PC steals. Many of those were simply poor passes and crazy drives resulting in offensive fouls. From Louisville's end, it looked more like nerves than anything, but they must cut down on turnovers to advance.
The Cards need to be able to take care of the ball better, and to borrow a phrase from the Bobby Petrino playbook, Feed the Studs. When UofL forced the ball down low to Clark and Samuels today, it worked. More of the same should be expected tomorrow, regardless of the opponent, because of the height disparity.
ROLF'S ARI WOLFE: Three-point shooting. Louisville shot 15.8 percent from three-point range and missed countless wide-open looks. Jerry Smith went 1-for-5 from deep and didn't have a man close to him on nearly every shot he took. Smith wasn't alone—Edgar Sosa and Preston Knowles finished a combined 0-for-7 from behind the arc. Louisville needs to hit much better from deep to make a run.
TOMARKEN'S ARI WOLFE: Today’s Ari Wolfe goes to the noon tipoff. Sure, I was able to catch the entirety of the game (a big shout out to my employers for letting me extend lunch by another hour), but I was texting like mad keeping all my buddies at work up to date on the game. This also was a missed opportunity to enjoy the Cards rout another opponent while opening a cold brew.
I know, not much to complain about, but I had to let that out here. At least it wasn’t scheduled during Tomarken’s Thursday evening class. That would have been a real tragedy.