CuseNation.com spoke with CardinalAuthority.com publisher Jody Demling about the Louisville Cardinals in anticipation of tonight's matchup. No one covers them better than Jody, so his expertise gives great insight into the 2014-15 Cardinals.
Q: Louisville is not as deep this season as in year's past. How does that impact the effectiveness of their full court press defense?
JD: Yes, Pitino still uses the full-court pressure but this team hasn’t been getting the job done like his other teams in the past have in the press. He said this week they will only use it when they are behind or need a spark. I’d say they will limit what they do on the press, and yes some of that will be because of a short bench. But more importantly for some reason this team just isn’t as good with it.
Q: The Cardinals are not as proficient from the outside as we are used to seeing from Rick Pitino teams. What has been the issue in that area?
JD: They have really struggled at times from the outside. If they hit early they usually get some spark and have a good game and they have been MUCH better on the road. They’ve struggled at home so much they have asked if anything is wrong with the rims. They have good guards but just lack a really good Luke Hancock-type shooter.
Q: Who will likely get the assignment of guarding Rakeem Christmas? Will Louisville use double teams in order to limit his impact?
JD: The Christmas matchup will be interesting. Harrell can’t get in foul trouble but I would imagine you might see him on him some. The three 5 players - Onuaku, Mathiang, Mahmoud - all have good things and bad things and none have been very consistent. I think we’ll see more Mahmoud because he’s so athletic. And yes, Christmas will see a lot of doubles.
Q: What is the key to Montrezl Harrell's production?
JD: Harrell has been really good. Teams have even keyed on him and he’s really only had two bad games this season, including Saturday against NC State. He’s very good in transition and the only time he has trouble is when he gets doubled a little ways from the basket. He’s even hit a few 3 pointers and a bunch of mid-range jumpers this season.
JD: Well, they at least have practice this time. A lot of teams have been zoning them and Louisville will try to push the tempo, get the ball out in transition and hope to hit a few shots. It’s really just a lot about how many shots will fall for them.