Game #9-129: Louisville at Charleston CougarsDecember 4, 2012 9:00 pm
Carolina First Center
It has been a long break between me writing recaps so far. After the Charleston Classic finished up on November 20, my team, the College of Charleston went on a road trip. This was a very hard stretch for the Cougars. After 3 games in the Charleston Classic, the Cougs were lucky to be 2-2. The second win was by just a few over Boston College.
They then went on a 3-game road-trip which has defined their season so far. They traveled to Baylor, a team with a 29-game home court winning streak, and upset them 63-59. This win caught the eyes of many people. After this one, they had to go to Charleston Southern's tiny gym, probably their toughest ticket ever, and face a good Buccaneer team. The game wasn't decided till the final minutes, when CofC won by 5.
Finally, on Saturday, they had to travel to Elon in a very important game; their first conference game. CofC came back from an early deficit, but in a game of runs, CofC had the last one, avoiding a last-second 3-point chance to win on the Phoenix's floor. All of this was without CofC's best post player, Trent Wiedeman.
This meant an over two week break between recaps.
CofC didn't get back until 3 on Sunday morning from NC, and had to play their toughest home opponent ever, the fifth ranked Louisville Cardinals. This game was marked on the calendars from the day the series was announced two seasons ago. They played last year in Louisville. CofC led most of the game, including by as much as 8 in the 2nd half, but succumbed to the Louisville press to lose 69-62.
Louisville played in the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, and nearly won, but their top player, Gorgui Dieng, got hurt in the game against Missouri there.
This year's game was a very tough ticket. Tickets were selling for $70-90 on StubHub. This was the biggest game played in Charleston since January 4, 2010, when CofC upset #9
North Carolina in overtime. There was anticipation on campus for days before the game, even though the game was scheduled on the reading day prior to exams.
The reason why the series was played is because Louisville coach Rick Pitino likes to challenge his teams to tough atmospheres before non-conference play. This was one of them. Another reason is that Pitino's daughter, Jacqueline, is a student at the College of Charleston. In fact, she is in the same class as me (she is a junior at CofC, I am). I've never noticed her on campus though.
A large media contingent arrived in town for the game, just like any other time CofC plays a major opponent. Louisville's newspaper sent two people to the game. The Associated Press sent their SC sports reporter. Four NBA scouts, plus someone from the Chinese national team visited. The game was covered by one of ESPN's top announcing crews, Carter Blackburn and Fran Fraschilla on ESPNU.
The students were prepped for this game. The line started hours before the gates opened. The line to get in stretched all the way down George Street, turned onto King Street, and went over 500 feet from the arena at its peak. Only 1,000 students can fit into the arena's seats, and some were turned away because of the huge crowds that showed up.
From @ (this doesn't show half of the student section):
It was a great entrance. A new video made by the athletic department accompanied the team, who hadn't been home in over two weeks. They got one of the loudest ovations I've heard in that arena. Everyone stood up, even the non-students. The pregame atmosphere probably was the best I've ever heard at any basketball game I've attended in Charleston.
Doug Wojcik dressed for the part, wearing an expensive pinstriped suit compared to the expensive clothes Rick Pitino usually wears.
The problem was that the Louisville team played a better version of CofC's defense and turnover model. CofC never held a lead in the game. CofC kept it close for the first five or six minutes. It was 8-3 Louisville at the first media timeout.
The Louisville press and rebounding was just way too much for the Cougars on this night. A five-point deficit quickly turned into ten and fifteen. Louisville was nailing their threes, and got in the bonus very quickly. For a two or three minute stretch it seemed like the Cardinals were shooting free throws every 15 seconds.
The Cougs had 16 turnovers by halftime, and 27 for the game against this vicious press. The halftime score was 36-16 Louisville, and most hope was doused before the second half started. However, CofC made a quick run to begin the second half.
Anthony Stitt made a 3 to cut the lead to 36-19, followed by a defensive stop, two turnovers (one by each team), an amazing missed dunk by Adejhi Baru that almost bounced to the roof, and two FTs by Baru to cut the deficit to 15 at 36-21. A stop on defense and a three, and CofC would have been right back in the game.
The crowd was back in the game with 17 minutes and change left, but Louisville quickly (within two minutes) got it back to 20 and never let up. After that charge, fans began to leave the building, even after some never came back after halftime.
From the 15:07 mark on, CofC was outscored 34-12. Louisville kept playing their game, even with a big lead. Coach Pitino, one of the most emotional coaches in college basketball, banged his feet several times when his players made bad plays, even with the lead at 25 or 30 points.
The fans that remained didn't have that much to cheer about. With about 4 or 5 minutes to go, star PG for CofC, Andrew Lawrence, rolled his ankle on the floor. It looked worse than it was; but he was knocked out of the game.
Some of the older fans in the crowd even fell asleep because the game became boring toward the end. For the last few minutes, the student section was cheering to get the Cougars over 40 points. The problem was that they didn't.
They lost by forty-two points to a game opponent in Louisville and Rick Pitino. Strangely enough, the worst loss before this game was also to a Rick Pitino coached team. It was to Kentucky in the finals of the 1996 Great Alaska Shootout. They lost that game 92-65. They had never scored under 40 points in a Division I game.
Thankfully, the Cougars have a long exam break after this game. They don't play again until December 13 against Anderson University. Louisville plays on Saturday, December 8 against Missouri-Kansas City before going to Memphis on December 15.
It was a tough night all around for CofC. The fans that were left at the end of the game were feeling red; by the Cardinals, and by the tough outing their team had. LOUISVILLE 80, at CHARLESTON 38
LOUISVILLE 7-1 (0-0) -- P. Siva 5-10 2-2 12; R. Smith 3-9 7-8 13; C. Behanan 4-10 2-2 10; M. Harrell 1-2 0-0 2; S. Van Treese 2-5 0-0 4; W. Blackshear 5-10 5-6 18; K. Ware 3-5 2-2 9; L. Hancock 2-7 0-0 4; Z. Price 3-5 0-0 6; T. Henderson 1-1 0-0 2; M. Baffour 0-0 0-0 0; J. Bond 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-64 18-20 80.
CHARLESTON 5-3 (1-0) -- A. Baru 6-12 2-5 14; A. Stitt 2-7 1-2 7; A. Lawrence 1-6 1-1 3; A. Thomas 3-6 0-2 6; M. Sundberg 2-5 0-0 4; W. Hall 1-4 0-0 2; T. Johnson 1-1 0-0 2; N. Johnson 0-2 0-0 0; H. Bowne 0-0 0-0 0; P. Branin 0-3 0-0 0; T. Dixon 0-0 0-0 0; J. Hall 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-46 4-10 38.
Three-point goals: UL 4-14 (P. Siva 0-2; L. Hancock 0-2; R. Smith 0-1; W. Blackshear 3-7; K. Ware 1-2), COFC 2-15 (M. Sundberg 0-3; A. Lawrence 0-4; W. Hall 0-1; N. Johnson 0-1; P. Branin 0-2; A. Stitt 2-4); Rebounds: UL 35 (S. Van Treese 10), COFC 28 (A. Baru 14); Assists: UL 12 (R. Smith 4), COFC 5 (A. Stitt 2); Total Fouls -- UL 15, COFC 14; Fouled Out: UL-None; COFC-None.