Give an assist to assistant in U of L's come from behind win over C of C PDF Print E-mail

 

By George Browning

Managing Editor

Green Banner Publications

 

Coaches have a lot going on during the course of a game and sometimes don't see things that assistant coaches may pick up on. That's what happened Tuesday in Louisville's 69-62 win over College of Charleston in the YUM! Center.

Head Coach Rick Pitino credited his son, assistant coach Richard Pitino for suggesting a move that would put senior Kyle Kuric in the four spot against COC's zone defense.

“I give credit to my son because he made the move that won the game,” the elder Pitino said. “He told me to put Kyle in at the four spot because the middle was wide-open and they weren't playing it. He said, 'Put Kyle in there, he will make the shot or something good will happen.' That's what happened. Kyle got in there and really bothered them. Where Rak (Buckles) and Chane (Behanan) were a little uncertain on what to do, Kyle made it, and it was a big move on Richard's part and we needed it at that point.”

The plan worked as Kuric finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds and sparked the decisive runs that improved U of L's record to 11-0.

Kuric hit a jumper in the lane that gave the Cardinals a lead for good, 60-59.

Kuric grabbed a defensive rebound off a missed layup by College of Charleston that eventually led to a three by Chris Smith.

After a series of defensive stops, Gorgui Dieng hit a pair of free throws and Peyton Siva added one of two for the final margin.

Pitino said he knew his team would have their hands full with the Bobby Cremins coached team that entered the YUM! Center with a 9-1 record.

“. . . We just showed tremendous fortitude down the stretch to get the win,” Pitino said. “When you give up 12 threes, you don't normally win. We did that because they are very difficult to guard because they take you off the bounce and are a great drive and dish team that puts four shooters on the floor. They pass and cut real well.

“We knew this was going to be a war. For about 32 minutes, they were the better team. We give them a lot of credit and we give our guys a lot of credit because of the way they played defense down the stretch. Gorgui and Russ Smith just played like men possessed.”

Russ Smith finished the game with 12 points, five steals and four rebounds, while Dieng had 14 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.

“I am really proud of Russ, really proud of Gorgui, the way they played,” Pitino said.

Early in the game it looked as if the Cardinals were set to run away with the game as they jumped out to an eight-point lead, 26-18, off a jumper by Dieng in the paint with 8:55 remaining in the first half. .

College of Charleston outscored Louisville 19-7 over the final nine minutes and took a 37-33 advantage into the locker room at intermission.

C of C hit seven of 13 threes, during the spurt and finished the game by hitting 12 of 23.

Pitino said his team's stats would indicate they are a solid defensive unit, but they have a long way to go on that end of the floor.

“I've been telling you guys (the media) we are not a good defensive team and we've got to get a lot better,” he said, “but we play our tails off. I don't think you will find too many teams that play as hard as we do. We've got to get Chane and Rak to contain the basketball a little better.”

Overall Pitino said the win over C of C was a good win.

“We are playing really good basketball teams,” he said. “That was a heck of a ball club we played tonight. Ohio U was a heck of a ball club. They could both play in the Big East this year and hold their own with anybody. Maybe not Syracuse because of their size, but they could all the other teams.”

U of L will carry their 11-0 record into Friday's game against in-state rival Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers are 4-8 on the season and enter the game off two consecutive losses, one of which came, 86-74, to an IUPUI team that Louisville beat 90-60 Dec. 7.