Whatever the secret to Stephan Van Treese's more recent success, Villanova figured it out and shut him down. Maybe things change when teams start scouting against you. Though it seemed like SVT was in position for several rebounds but somehow always ended up juggling and losing the ball. Whatever the case, Van Treese finishes with one rebound, thereby earning the acclaimed Terrence Jennings Mighty Rebound Award. What is it with our big men and 1 rebound?
For his part, Jennings had two.
Our two leading rebounders were Preston Knowles and Chris Smith. Seems like I've written that before. This is getting depressing.
On the positive side, Preston Knowles is having one of the most impressive shooting seasons by a Louisville player that I can remember -- 24 points, 9-17 shooting, 6-10 from beyond the arc, 5 rebounds. It's the type of sharpshooting senior year we all hoped for Jerry Smith last season. The guy is automatic, the only Cardinal we trust with the ball completely, who has an innate ability to transform bad shots into good shots. His transformation into team leader is pretty remarkable when you think about it.
Peyton Siva... oh Peyton Siva. He ended with impressive stats -- 14 points and 8 assists -- but his game tonight was not the clutch performance we were looking for. He pulled off an impressive full-court drive to start the game. But in the several plays after that, bad decision-making ensued -- always shooting the ball when he should have passed and passing the ball when he should have shot. Anyone else notice that? I've seen it for a few games now, counter-instinctive decision-making. During Louisville's two most critical stretches -- those early moments when the Cards built a fragile lead, and midway through the second half when they mounted their usual desperate (but defenseless) run -- he appeared almost lost, always finding the worst time to make a mistake. Such is the curse of being a sophomore point guard. Or so I'm telling myself.
It's become clear (to me) now that for all his talent in the open court, Siva doesn't have solid instincts near the basket. No sense of what defenders are near, or when to jump-stop, or how to draw a foul. It's always full-charge to the hoop for a layup and hope to dear God there are no big men lurking. But as we're finding out, every top 25 team has a center capable of swatting a 5-11 point guard.
There are positives that we can point to tonight. The Cards competed throughout the first half, trading basket for basket against a seventh-ranked team, that wasn't playing badly, in their own house. They entered the half down only a point and keyed an impressive run late in the game. 11 steals, 18 assists. So there are things to build on, from a game we were not expected to win, as we continue on in Big East play. Until we get rebounding under control, however, doesn't it feel like we're just rearranging deck chairs?