For comparison sake, during Louisville's 16 game winning streak, the Cardinals were outrebounded just three times by a total of ten. So the importance of rebounding for this team can't be understated.
Up 12 with under eight minutes remaining at Charlotte, Louisville faltered down the stretch before losing 77-71 in the closing minutes.
The Niners, who had 17 offensive boards and shot 17 more free throws, outrebounded Louisville 43-36. While Charlotte forwards Curtis Withers and Eddie Basden combined to outboard their Louisville counterparts Francisco Garcia and Luke Whitehead 19-8, it was the Cards perimeter players who failed to pick up slack on the boards.
The story was much the same at TCU, who crushed Louisville 44-28 on the boards. The Frogs also grabbed seven more offensive boards and conversely attempted 10 more free throws and got six more shots from the field than did the Cards. In the process, TCU handed Louisville its worst loss of the season 71-46.
And while Louisville held their own better on the boards last Saturday in an overtime road defeat at Cincinnati, the Bearcats still managed seven more rebounds than the Cardinals, including some critical offensive boards late in the game. They also shot ten more freebies than Louisville, another indication of the Cards lack of an inside threat.
But things hit rock bottom Wednesday against DePaul, who dominated Louisville by 18 on the glass. That margin was the most lopsided of the season for the 17-7 Cardinals and was the major reason for their two point, 60-58, overtime loss to the Blue Demons.
"This is a very disappointing loss for us but great for them," Pitino said following Wednesday nights loss to the DePaul. "One of the reasons we are losing is that we are getting killed on the boards. When you get outrebounded like we did, you are going to lose. It's been that way every game of late."
Pitino said following the game that correcting his team's rebounding woes will be the major focus leading into Saturday's game against Memphis and they'll likely need help from all five guys on the floor.
The silver lining during this recent stretch of losing appears this. Despite being outrebounded, and lacking consistent interior production in each of their last four games, Louisville has had a chance to win every game except the game at TCU, with both the Cincinnati and DePaul going into overtime.
But in a game Pitino called a "pivital" one for his team's season on Monday, there's no question the loss to DePaul will loom large down the stretch.
"It's very disappointing to lose this game at home in overtime."