Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's the Matter Rick?

Something is awry in the state of Kentucky and its not the Wildcats. The Louisville Cardinals have had their problems as of late. They've lost two of their last four and do not seem like the juggernaut they are expected to be.
One could easily argue that it's nothing to worry about. The Cards started out slow last year and made an Elite Eight run. But those Cards they are not. The 08-09 version looks lost on offense, lethargic at times, and most troublesome of all unorganized.
The first problem seems to be the loss of David Padgett. He may not have been superstar but he was their glue guy. When Padgett came back from injury last year, the team began to click. The Cards have to realize he has graduated and there is no return.
The second problem is the inconsistency of Samardo Samuels. Or rather the regression. The freshman from St. Benedicts is averaging 13.8 ppg and 6.5 rpg on the year but as Louisville has gone 2-2 in their last four, he accumulated just 17 points and 10 rebounds in the two losses. His team became entirely too dependent on him early in the season and can't seem to find their flow when he is taken out of the game.
Thirdly, these are some bad losses for Louisville. Losing to Minnesota in a neutral site game in Pheonix is unexcusable. The Gophers may be ranked but this is not a good team and will get exposed come tourney time. And a loss to UNLV, at home, without the Rebels' best player also does not look good on the resume.
Rick Pitino better get it straightened out, and quick. Because the Big East is tough enough, and it only gets worse when you can't bring an 'A' game. But I won't count out Louisville. This could be another one of those season where Pitino gets his team to peak at the right time and make another deep run into March.
Still, if it's not, then count this as your "I told you so."

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