Chicago Colleges: Louisville Cardinals
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A quick reaction to Notre Dame's five-overtime, 104-101 victory over Louisville on Saturday night, the longest regular-season game in Big East history:
Overview: Five overtimes? Of course.
In a season filled with constant upsets and countless endings as strange as they are thrilling, the Irish victory over Louisville was undoubtedly the strangest -- and the most exciting.
For the first 39 minutes, it was utterly predictable. For the final minute of regulation, and the five overtimes that followed, it was as crazy as anything we've seen since Connecticut and Syracuse played six OTs in the 2009 Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. (In fact, it was the first college basketball game to go over five overtimes since that night in New York.)
This being college basketball in 2013, even the ugliest and least-appealing games can end with utter mind-blowing surprise, and that's also what we got Saturday night. Notre Dame looked cooked with as few as 50 seconds left, but Irish guard Jerian Grant hit a trio of deep 3-pointers, Louisville missed a few free throws, and when Grant drove to the basket to make a game-tying three-point play, all of a sudden the game was tied at 60. And for the fifth time in the last six meetings ... overtime.
Just how crazy was this? Notre Dame took 39 minutes and 10 seconds to score 48 points. It took 29 seconds to score 12. All 12 were scored by Grant, who was 0-for-6 from the field up to that point.
Nor did the Irish fade in overtime -- all five overtimes, that is -- even as foul problems took stars Jack Cooley and Grant and eventually pretty much everyone else off the floor. The Irish clamped down on the defensive end and got to the line frequently to keep the Cardinals from opening another lead wider than a possession.
Louisville's Russ Smith had a chance to win the game at the end of the first OT, but the kid Cardinals coach Rick Pitino nicknamed "Russdiculous" took one of the most nickname-worthy shots of his career, waiting until just a few seconds remained before launching a baffling 26-footer that clanged off the glass and left his teammates no time to rebound it. He could have ended the second overtime, too, and he did his part, hitting two key free throws in the final seconds. He could have ended the fourth -- he shot the ball with a dead shot clock and a one-on-three fast break for no other reason than the fact that he's Russ Smith.
Somehow, the star of overtime was Garrick Sherman, who didn't even play in four of Notre Dame's previous six games. His rebounding and post buckets were the most important of the game, seemingly over and over again. His tip-in sent us to the fifth overtime. After not playing a second in regulation, Sherman finished with 17 points on 7-of-10 from the field.
Mercifully, that's where it ended. Down three, Smith took another long 3, and it ended. It actually ended.
Turning point: Pretty much everything that happened from the final minute onward. There's not a whole lot more I can tell you than that.
Star of the game: For as ugly as Louisville's offense was -- and as wild as things got throughout the various bonus times -- the one consistent factor was the interior scoring of Cardinals forward Chane Behanan's interior scoring. His 30 points came on 13-of-20 from the field with added 14 rebounds, and he was really the calmest go-to option Louisville had throughout. The Cardinals didn't win, but Behanan's performance was by far Saturday's best.
Key stat: Notre Dame entered the final minute of regulation with 48 points. It ended regulation with 60. It ended the game with 104. Your guess is as good as mine.
Up next: Louisville gets a return home and bit of a rest before a tricky and talented St. John's team comes to town Thursday, while Notre Dame will have a nice opportunity to get that offense clicking again when lowly DePaul arrives Wednesday.
Toughest: Global Sports Invitational (Nov. 23-24 in Las Vegas)
Next-toughest: Alabama (Dec. 1), vs. Marshall (Dec. 15 in Charleston, W.Va.), vs. Xavier (Dec. 19 at US Bank Arena), New Mexico (Dec. 27)
The rest: UT-Martin (Nov. 11), Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 13), North Carolina A&T (Nov. 18), Campbell (Nov. 20), Arkansas-Little Rock (Dec. 6), Maryland-Eastern Shore (Dec. 8), Wright State (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 5 -- The Bearcats earn a slight bump thanks to a trip to Vegas that includes a game against Iowa State and then either UNLV or Oregon. But otherwise there isn’t a lot to get excited about here. Even the Crosstown Shootout has lost a little luster, moved off campus after the brawl and muted by a seriously depleted Xavier roster.
Toughest: vs. Michigan State (Nov. 9 in Germany), vs. NC State (Dec. 4 in NYC), Washington (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: Paradise Jam (Nov. 16-19), Harvard (Dec. 7)
The rest: Vermont (Nov. 13), Stony Brook (Nov. 25), New Hampshire (Nov. 29), Maryland-Eastern Shore (Dec. 17), Fordham (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 8 -- Welcome to the hot seat, Kevin Ollie. Jim Calhoun has done you little in the way of a favor, leaving a Huskies team in the midst of reconstructing itself a tough schedule. The Armed Forces Classic with the Spartans on the base in Germany will be a spectacle in the best sense of the word, but followed just four days later with a not-so-easy game against perennial America East contender Vermont. And that’s just the first week. There's also a preseason top-10 team in NC State and a decent field in the Virgin Islands that includes New Mexico and several dangerous mid-majors.
Toughest: Cancun Challenge (Nov. 20-21)
Next-toughest: at Arizona State (Dec. 12)
The rest: UC Riverside (Nov. 9), Gardner-Webb (Nov. 15), Austin Peay (Nov. 17), Fairfield (Nov. 27), at Auburn (Nov. 30), at Chicago State (Dec. 5), Milwaukee (Dec. 9), Northern Illinois (Dec. 16), UMBC (Dec. 22), Loyola-Chicago (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 2 -- There’s a rationale here that’s understandable. DePaul has to walk before it can run and frontloading an impossible schedule will do no good for a team still trying to crawl its way up the Big East standings. But maybe a little something to move the needle wouldn’t be a bad idea. The Cancun event is about it and that offers up retooling Wichita State and either Iowa or Western Kentucky.
Toughest: vs. Florida (Nov. 9 in Jacksonville), Legends Classic (Nov. 19-20 in Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Next-toughest: Tennessee (Nov. 30), vs. Texas (Dec. 4 in New York)
The rest: Duquesne (Nov. 11), Liberty (Nov. 14), Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 24), Towson (Dec. 8), Longwood (Dec. 10), Western Carolina (Dec. 15), American (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale: 8 -- This schedule is potentially even better. If the Hoyas beat UCLA in Brooklyn, they'll likely take on preseason No. 1 Indiana the next day. That's after the opener against Florida and before tough games against Tennessee and Texas. Georgetown, looking for a second straight better-than-expected season, will be well-tested by the beginning of December. If they aren’t beaten up or beaten down, the Hoyas will come out the stronger for it in time for Big East play.
Toughest: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 22-24), at Memphis (Dec. 15), Kentucky (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: Illinois State (Dec. 1), vs. Western Kentucky (Dec. 22 in Nashville)
The rest: Manhattan (Nov. 11), Samford (Nov. 15), Miami-Ohio (Nov. 18), at Charleston (Dec. 4), UMKC (Dec. 8), Florida International (Dec. 19)
Toughness scale: 8 -- The beauty in this schedule is what you don’t see -- namely the Battle 4 Atlantis schedule after the first-round date with Northern Iowa. Missouri, Stanford, Memphis, VCU, Duke and Minnesota round out the field of heavy hitters, all of whom will give the top-5 Cards plenty to handle. And the date with Kentucky is always a nice friendly little waltz, too.
Toughest: vs. Ohio State (Nov. 9 in Charleston, S.C.), Maui Invitational (Nov. 19-20), at Florida (Nov. 29), Wisconsin (Dec. 8)
Next-toughest: LSU (Dec. 22)
The rest: Colgate (Nov. 11), Southeastern Louisiana (Nov. 13), UMBC (Nov. 26), Savannah State (Dec. 15), at Green Bay (Dec. 19), North Carolina Central (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 8 -- Another schedule with a hidden gem -- that would be a potential tango with North Carolina in Maui. But only if the Golden Eagles get past Butler, no easy task. Even without that, though, Buzz Williams has set his team up nicely, with not just some big names but a good mix of contrasting styles -- from uptempo Florida to no-tempo Wisconsin. You can even forgive Marquette for its dose of supposed ‘easy’ games. There's enough heft here, including that opener against the Buckeyes, to excuse any number of softies.
Toughest: CVC Classic (Nov. 16-17 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), Kentucky (Nov. 29)
Next-toughest: vs. Purdue (Dec. 15 in Indianapolis)
The rest: Evansville (Nov. 10), Monmouth (Nov. 12), George Washington (Nov. 21), St. Francis-Pa. (Nov. 24), Chicago State (Nov. 26), Brown (Dec. 8), IPFW (Dec. 17), Kennesaw State (Dec. 19), Niagara (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 5 -- It’s not awful -- and it could get better, with Florida State perhaps waiting in the wings in Brooklyn (ND opens with A-10 favorite St. Joe's there) -- but this isn’t exactly the same as the Irish’s football schedule. Yes, Kentucky coming to town for the SEC/Big East Challenge is a great feather in the cap, but there are too many teams here that aren’t guaranteed NCAA tournament selections to get hyped up about.
Toughest: NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 12-23)
Next-toughest: Detroit (Dec. 1)
The rest: Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 9), Fordham (Nov. 12), Oakland (Nov. 17), Howard (Nov. 27), vs. Duquesne (Dec. 5 at Consol Energy Center), North Florida (Dec. 8), Bethune Cookman (Dec. 15), Delaware State (Dec. 19), Kennesaw State (Dec. 23)
Toughness scale: 3 -- Yikes. This is a whole lotta meh for the Panthers. The NIT will help. Assuming they beat Fordham and/or Robert Morris or Lehigh (the latter of which won't be easy), a trip to MSG will likely produce a matchup with Michigan and either Virginia or Kansas State. The rest is pretty grim, but then again so was Pitt last season. It might be not be a bad way to go about the season.
Toughest: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 15-18)
Next-toughest: Mississippi State (Dec. 1), at Boston College (Dec. 22)
The rest: NJIT (Nov. 10), Bryant (Nov. 12), Fairfield (Nov. 23), Holy Cross (Nov. 27), Rhode Island (Dec. 6), Colgate (Dec. 18), at Brown (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale: 2 -- You almost can’t fault the Friars here. It’s not their fault New England basketball is a mess. If it weren’t, games against Rhode Island and BC would have some heft. But truth be told, Ed Cooley ought to be sighing in relief here. Without heralded freshman Ricardo Ledo, Providence needs a little more time to build, and this schedule ought to allow for that. There might be some meat in San Juan with an opener against UMass and Tennessee and NC State in the field. But there's not much else to see here.
Toughest: at Ole Miss (Dec. 1)
Next-toughest: at Princeton (Nov. 16), vs. Iona (Dec. 8 in NYC)
The rest: St. Peter’s (Nov. 9), Sacred Heart (Nov. 12), Boston U (Nov. 20), UNC Greensboro (Nov. 25), George Washington (Dec. 11), UAB (Dec. 16), Rider (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale: 1 -- When the toughest games you have are against the Ivy League and a middle-of-the-pack SEC contender (which was scheduled for them), there just isn’t much to crow about. This is a schedule built to get Rutgers wins but not much else.
Toughest: Charleston Classic (Nov. 15-18)
Next-toughest: Detroit (Nov. 13), South Carolina (Nov. 29)
The rest: Holy Cross (Nov. 21), Florida Gulf Coast (Nov. 24), NJIT (Dec. 1), at San Francisco (Dec. 4), Fordham (Dec. 8), vs. St. Francis-NY (Dec. 15 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), UNC Asheville (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 4 -- The Red Storm could get a bump in Charleston, where they open with the home-team Cougars and could draw Murray State in the second round and maybe Baylor or Colorado down the road. So that’s not awful. But otherwise Steve Lavin has a manageable -- if not entirely easy -- reentry into his coaching career, as does his young roster.
Toughest: Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic (Nov. 17-18 in Uncasville, Conn.)
Next-toughest: at LSU (Nov. 29), at Wake Forest (Dec. 8), vs. LIU-Brooklyn (Dec. 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y.)
The rest: UMKC (Nov. 9), Norfolk State (Nov. 12), Maine (Nov. 21), St. Peter’s (Nov. 25), NJIT (Dec. 4), North Carolina A&T (Dec. 15), Longwood (Dec. 19), Stony Brook (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale: 3 -- This could get better if the Pirates play Ohio State at Mohegan Sun (that would require a win over Washington) and would have been better if Wake Forest was what Wake Forest used to be. But going by the "play the hand you’re dealt" adage, Seton Hall is holding a pair of 3s at best.
Toughest: at Oklahoma State (Dec. 5)
Next-toughest: UCF (Nov. 10), George Mason (Dec. 29), at UCF (Jan. 2)
The rest: Maryland-Eastern Shore (Nov. 16), Loyola-Chicago (Nov. 17), Western Michigan (Nov. 18), Bradley (Nov. 20), at Stetson (Nov. 26), Youngstown State (Dec. 18), Bowling Green (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 3 -- The Bulls had to fight and pray to make it into the NCAA tournament a season ago, a serious bubble team until the Big East tournament. This schedule won’t do much to make March easier should USF be successful again. There’s just enough here to turn the committee’s head, so it will be up to the Big East slate to make South Florida viable.
Toughest: vs. San Diego State (Nov. 9 at Battle of the Midway), vs. Temple (Dec. 22 in NYC)
Next-toughest: Princeton (Nov. 21), at Arkansas (Nov. 30), Long Beach State (Dec. 6), Detroit (Dec. 17)
The rest: Wagner (Nov. 18), Colgate (Nov. 25), Eastern Michigan (Dec. 3), Monmouth (Dec. 8), Canisius (Dec. 15), Alcorn State (Dec. 29), Central Connecticut State (Dec. 31)
Toughness scale: 6 -- I’m done with arguing the merits of Jim Boeheim’s schedule because he always wins. He wins games, lots of them, and he wins the argument, quieting the scheduling critics (present company included) with deep March runs. This isn’t awful, but it’s not saliva-inducing wonderful either. So what? It will work. Just watch.
Toughest: 2K Sports Classic (Nov. 15-16), Temple (Dec. 5)
Next-toughest: Marshall (Nov. 11), at Vanderbilt (Dec. 1), Saint Joseph’s (Dec. 11)
The rest: Columbia (Nov. 20), at La Salle (Nov. 25), at Penn (Dec. 8), Delaware (Dec. 16), at Monmouth (Dec. 22), NJIT (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale: 4 -- The 2K Sports Classic, with Purdue as the opener and either Alabama and Oregon State in the second game, raises the bar slightly and the chronically hard-to-win Big 5 games help, too, especially now that some of those teams have life again. But this is by no means the most menacing schedule Jay Wright has ever concocted for his team. Which might be wise. The Wildcats, remember, were not exactly the most menacing team a season ago.
At center, there is ever-developing block specialist Gorgui Dieng. At power forward, there is Chane Behanan, an adept post scorer who could be the nation’s likeliest big-time breakout candidate. At small fowrard, there is sophomore Wayne Blackshear, a top 2011 recruit who missed much of the season thanks to shoulder surgeries, and backing this group up is forward Stephen Van Treese, a talent who likewise missed 2011 with injuries.
Where, you may ask, does forward Jared Swopshire fit into all this? Turns out, he doesn’t.
Per ESPN Chicago’s Scott Powers and Louisville Courier-Journal reporter C.L. Brown, Swopshire took a look at that Cardinals frontcourt, realized playing time would be scant and decided to transfer to Northwestern. Because Swopshire will be pursuing a graduate degree not offered at Louisville, he will be eligible to play immediately.
That is excellent news for both parties. Swopshire was stuck in a lurch at Louisville; he has a worthwhile outside-in skill set for a 6-foot–9 forward, but isn’t nearly good enough to warrant many minutes with Dieng, Behanan, Van Treese and Blackshear crowding the frontcourt. But he could be a very good fit at Northwestern, which not only has to replace the scoring chops of departing senior John Shurna, but which desperately needs a legitimate interior presence – something, anything– to keep pace in a bruising Big Ten. Swopshire offers the immediate promise of both.
And so the big Northwestern question looms large yet again: Is this the year Bill Carmody finally, mercifully gets the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament? The jury is still (obviously) very much out. But alongside returning guards like Drew Crawford, JerShon Cobb and Reggie Hearn, Swopshire will give the Wildcats a brand of athleticism they’ve rarely fielded in the Carmody era, and which they demonstrably lacked in crucial moments in 2012’s disappointing tourney-bereft finish.
At the very least, Swopshire’s transfer choice offers that promise. Win-win, this one.
Here’s a quick look at No. 18 Louisville’s 90-82 overtime win over DePaul on Saturday.
How it happened: DePaul got off to another hot start against a Big East opponent, but again it wasn’t to last. The Blue Demons jumped out to a 16-4 lead and kept their advantage in double figures most of the first half. They led 42-32 at halftime. The second half was a different story. Louisville opened the half on an 18-6 run to take the lead. Louisville sank eight 3-pointers to key its second-half comeback. The teams would go and back forth from there on out. Louisville led 76-72 down the stretch, but DePaul answered again and sent the game into overtime. Louisville’s Russ Smith was the difference in overtime, scoring two big consecutive shots that gave the Cardinals an 83-79 lead. They outscored DePaul in 13-5 in the extra period.
What it means: It was another heartbreaking loss for DePaul. The Blue Demons have definitely improved in coach Oliver Purnell’s second season, but their progress still isn’t leading to wins. The Blue Demons fell to 2-12 in the Big East and have dropped their past six games. Louisville improved to 9-5 in conference.
Outside the box: If games lasted only one half, DePaul would be one of the premier teams in the Big East. Saturday marked the fifth time in six games the Blue Demons led or were tied at halftime. Their 10-point halftime lead was their biggest in Big East play.
Player of the game: Louisville’s Kyle Kuric scored a team-high 25 points and drained five 3-pointers.
DePaul player of the game: Brandon Young had struggled throughout DePaul’s past seven games. He broke out of that slump on Saturday. He was 10-of-13 from the field and scored a game-high 27 points.
What’s next: DePaul has a quick turnaround and plays at St. John's on Monday. Louisville heads to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
llinois’ Class of 2011 basketball recruits were praised by local and national scouts for much of their high school careers.
The state’s 2011 class placed nine players in ESPNU’s top 100 and had a couple more that weren’t too far off. It was considered one of Illinois’ deepest and most talented classes.
Now that the class has moved on to the college level, it’s time for those players to prove whether they actually deserved all of the attention -- or if it was just hype. Although it’s only been a few weeks into the season, the state’s class hasn’t had the smoothest of transitions into college hoops.
• Louisville freshman and McDonald’s All-American guard Wayne Blackshear, who starred at Morgan Park, had eligibility issues at first and then suffered a season-ending injury.
• Macari Brooks, a Rich South product, left DePaul after his own eligibility issues.
• Dre Henley, a former De La Salle player, departed Northern Illinois due to an off-the-court incident.
• On Wednesday, Connecticut announced freshman guard Ryan Boatright, last year’s ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year from East Aurora, would sit out of competition until the NCAA ruled on his eligibility.
Long-time Chicago-area basketball scout Larry Butler wasn’t shocked to hear what happened to any of those four players. Blackshear had fought through a handful of injuries the last few seasons. Boatright, Brooks and Henley went through their ups and downs in high school.
Even beyond those four players, Butler is worried the rest of the class won’t pan out for other reasons.
“Nothing has surprised me about this class because of their attitudes,” said Butler, who publishes Illinois Spot-Lite. “I used to say I can’t wait for this class to get out of high school to see how good they really are. They’ve been hyped for so long. They came into the season after they left high school bracing themselves for stardom.”
Butler doesn’t necessarily blame the players for that.
“We blew these cats up,” Butler said. “They walked in thinking they would be stars already. Quite a few of them had this sense of entitlement.”
So who should be blamed? Butler said the high school coaches.
“They don’t coach them,” Butler said. “They don’t develop them and get them to where they need to be. They recruit these guys, but they don’t develop them. They’re too scared of them transferring. In the end, they don’t have the ingredients to be ready for the next level. That’s the biggest problem we have in this state.
“The college coaches see the circuit, and they’re not the typical Chicago kids. They’re not playing hard. [Duke assistant] Chris Collins and I were talking about this the other day.”
Butler has been making calls all around the country to college coaches and has heard similar grips about Illinois’ current freshman crop.
“A lot of these guys are struggling,” Butler said.
Butler doesn’t think everyone in the class will be a bust. He has received a lot of positive feedback on Kentucky freshman forward Anthony Davis and Illinois freshman center Nnanna Egwu.