LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville men’s basketball program continues to suffer.
At 11-9, the team is off to its worst start to 20 games since 2001, when Denny Crum’s last team finished 12-19. Coming off a 64-52 loss at Virginia in an ESPN Big Monday game, the Cardinals have lost 5 of their last 6 games, the last four of those losses by double figures.
According to Louisville stats guru Kelly Dickey, the last time Louisville had four double-digit losses in a span of five games, the US was still more than a year away from entering World War II.
This one ended shortly after it started. Against a Virginia team that is a shadow of its past seasons and ninth in the ACC in offensive efficiency, Louisville got off to a slow offensive start, falling behind 25-8 and unable to get past it.
The Cards got within four late in the second half, then had a couple of doable shots and Virginia moved on.
“The start was more or less the result of our lack of energy and effort to start the game defensively,” Louisville transfer guard Jarrod West said. “They (Virginia) were too comfortable. They ran the offense we were preparing for and we knew they were going to do it. They didn’t do anything different. We didn’t do a good job of executing defensively with our energy.” , effort or communication. It wasn’t good enough. And I really don’t think we were awake enough to start the game from a defense standpoint.”
While Cardinals coach Chris Mack acknowledged both teams had a quick recovery from Saturday’s games, he said his team, filled with relative newcomers to the ACC who hadn’t experienced Virginia’s style of play, took some time to get acclimatized to the cutting and sensing action, even though you worked on it extensively in practice.
“It’s one thing to tell them and another thing to execute,” said Mack. “(Against Virginia) you have to be ready to chase. You have to be able to save. You can’t just melt into screens. And we didn’t learn that until we were down 25-8. A couple of guys really hurt us in that action. proud our guys kept fighting but we never got over the hump I think we cut it to five and four a couple times we got a couple of open looks for the guys those go down and maybe it becomes a little more than game pressure for Virginia. But they didn’t, and then I give them credit. They responded. You just can’t put yourself in the 25-8 hole to start a game.”
Louisville’s biggest deficit was 19, 27-8 with 6:25 left in the first half. But the Cardinals leveled off, cut that margin to 12 by halftime, and got back into single digits in the first television timeout of the second half.
They cut further down the lane after a running back by Matt Cross and a jump shot by Malik Williams made it 45-41 with just under 12 minutes to go.
But Louisville went 4 1/2 minutes without scoring and Virginia went on a 7-0 run. Back-to-back 3-pointers cut Louisville’s deficit to five, but Virginia got back-to-back dunks from Kadin Shedrick to end the threat.
After the game, Mack was asked about a non-comment from Malik Williams, when asked if the players had perhaps stopped paying attention to the coaching staff. Mack said he believes the players are still committed and used Monday’s second-half comeback as evidence.
“I think our guys are committed,” Mack said. “I think Malik was asked a tough question the other day and he wasn’t quite sure how to answer it. Obviously he thinks our team should be better, and so do I. But we’re the same team that was up seven at Notre Dame. The same team tonight that, despite a huge deficit that can’t be relinquished along the way, bounced back and responded and didn’t give up. So, I think that’s a bit of a stretch. But at the same time, the result is the result. And you know, we’re not here to do anything other than try to win games and we haven’t done the work here lately.”
Mack said he and Williams had discussed his response to that question, but when asked about that conversation, he said, “That’s between me and him.”
West led Louisville on Monday with 14 points. Cross added 11 and Williams had a team-high 10 points and 6 rebounds. Virginia got 15 points from Kihei Clark, 14 from Jayden Gardner and 11 from Shedrick. The Cavaliers had 20 assists and shot 47 percent from the field.
West said the Cardinals are frustrated that they lost but are still working to improve.
“We still have like 10 games left … and you know, anything can happen,” he said. “So we have to keep working. We have to stick together. We have to keep trusting our system and, you know, keep getting better every day. The last thing we can do is give up.” . We’re not going to do that. I know Coach Mack is not going to give up on this team. As players, we are not going to give up on each other. So we just have to keep fighting, keep going. bring it every day.
Mack said Louisville is “a team that needs to get better quickly. You know, the schedule is behind and that’s obviously daunting. But at the same time, we’ve got a ton of days here before we play (Duke) on Saturday and we’ve got to keep spirits high. We have to be able to improve in the next four days to compete against one of the best teams in the country”.
Louisville takes on Duke at noon Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center in what will be Mike Krzyzewski’s last visit to Kentucky as Blue Devils coach.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism