Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Louisville Playing As Expected

February 18, 2008 Columns No Comments

Cardinals Starting to Live Up to Expectations

by Phil Kasiecki

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – This is the Louisville team most people figured we would see before the season. This team – the one that’s now in a tie atop the Big East standings and has a lot of momentum there – is what we thought the Cardinals were, not the team we saw in December.

The Cardinals have recently looked every bit the deep team they were thought to be. A big part of that is health, as knee injuries to Juan Palacios and David Padgett led them to the point where the Cardinals desperately needed a major contribution from Derrick Caracter, who got suspended yet again along the way.

And although the Cardinals were winning, they didn’t look good in doing so. At the end of 2007, they were 9-3, and their losses aren’t bad at all – Brigham Young in Las Vegas, Dayton and Purdue (in Indianapolis). The latter two don’t look as bad as they did at the time, nor does the loss to Cincinnati at home on New Year’s Day. But at the time, the loss to Cincinnati had many thinking about how their rivalry game with Kentucky had lost a lot of luster since the Wildcat’s struggles in non-conference are well-documented.

Since the loss to Cincinnati, the Cardinals have been no a roll save for stumbling blocks at Seton Hall and Connecticut – again, the latter not being a bad loss and the former coming against a team capable of getting hot on a given night. Saturday’s 80-72 win at Providence was their fifth straight win and puts them in a tie atop the Big East, and they hold the tie-breaker with Georgetown since they knocked off the Hoyas last Saturday.

What we see with the Cardinals this season is a classic case of a team with some early adversity coming together late in the season with their entire team intact for. It’s not uncommon given the injuries that occur, and oftentimes some early struggles because of personnel losses give a team a chance to develop depth. That development isn’t just in having more bodies capable of contributing, as it also encompasses having more players who could contribute significantly. When that happens, a team is much more dangerous because one or two players could have an off night, but the team could still win against good teams because they have other players who are just as capable.

Four Cardinals average in double figures on the season, while three players average at least 5.5 rebounds per game. Eight different players have led the team in scoring in a game this season and two more have scored at least 10 points in a game. And a number of players have looked like most valuable players at one point or another on the season.

“Louisville’s got a lot of answers, and that’s the problem,” said Providence head coach Tim Welsh.

While the value of players like leading scorer and assist man Terrence Williams and leading rebounder Earl Clark might be obvious, less obvious is that of third-leading scorer Jerry Smith, who really lead the way early in Big East play. But no one may be more valuable than Padgett, whose career was thought to be over when he suffered his latest injury. He doesn’t put up huge numbers – he’s second on the team in scoring but fourth in rebounding – he’s immensely valuable to this team. Indeed, even his assist total (23 in 16 games) doesn’t show it.

Padgett, who started his college career at Kansas, is the son of a coach, as he played for his father at Reno (NV) High School. Watching him play, it’s not surprising, as he shows an excellent feel for the game and makes the offense go. He’s a scoring threat, but also knows how to help facilitate the offense from his position, often facing the basket near the foul line.

“When you pick up the stat sheet and look at David Padgett’s numbers, it’s truly not the appreciation for what he does for a basketball team,” said head coach Rick Pitino. “He does so many great things.”

A team’s leader is often their point guard, who has to be an extension of the coach on the floor. The best ones are often described in such a manner as well. While Padgett doesn’t put up big numbers, he helps enable those of everyone else. No one is putting up such numbers on this well-balanced team, but the Cardinals as a whole are doing just that.

Defensively, Padgett’s importance can often be seen by his absence. When he has been in foul trouble, it has come in part because of dribble penetration allowed by the guards. When he has been out, the defense has suffered.

But of late, he’s been in there, and it’s a big reason the Cardinals are on the roll they are currently on. Right now, the Cardinals are playing about as well defensively as any team, ranking seventh nationally in field goal percentage defense.

“He’s an extremely bright person,” said Pitino. “On the court, it’s surprising when you see a big guy be that good a leader. It’s hardly a big guy. But he’s to us what Roy Hibbert is to Georgetown – the offense goes better.

“It’s not easy to find guys like that who just think about the team.”

With Padgett back in the lineup, as well as Palacios, the Cardinals don’t need to rely on Caracter or even ask him to do much. And with them in the lineup, they have their full squad, and look more like a team that could go to the Final Four than a team that might barely make the NCAA Tournament.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 11, 2018

January 11, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about several big pieces of news away from game play, one of which puts a lot in perspective. We also talk about the lack of dominant teams and how this has shown up in the results, especially this past weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with a big game in the Big East, then move on to the sudden lack of undefeated teams, a big injury in the ACC, and a powerhouse that looks vulnerable in a stacked conference they have long ruled.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.