It wasn’t pretty at times, but the Cards did enough to notch an 80-66 victory over a tough Marshall squad. Rakeem Buckles, Mike Marra, and Peyton Siva led the Cards with 12 points apiece. Elisha Justice added 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists to continue his strong play off the bench and Gorgui Dieng gave a solid effort with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Even though the Cards did not play too well, you have to give Marshall credit. They are coached by Tom Herrion, who spent time as an assistant at Pitt, and his team plays a lot like Jamie Dixon’s teams. They are tough, physical, and don’t allow many easy baskets. While Marshall does not have the number of athletes as Pitt, they have some talent and legitimately hung with UofL for about 30 minutes.
Because of that, I am fairly happy with the win. Ideally, you would prefer run them out of the gym, but you can get a lot out of this win.
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First, the Cards got the win, which is most imporant. If you disagree, just ask coach Herm Edwards. Second, they had to play against a tough, physical team and really fight for this game. I believe games like this are necessary early in the year. Louisville will obviously play tough, physical teams during conference play, so a game or two early on against teams with that style are very beneficial.
Finally, Louisville needs to play against teams that offer some resistance and won’t fold. Marshall does not do that. They fought all the way to the final horn and forced the Cards to do the same.
Individually, Mike Marra impressed again. On top of his 12 points, Mike added 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He could be the best passer on the team. He makes smart, simple passes and doesn’t turn the ball over. I continue to be somewhat amazed at his development, but the player of the game was Stephan Van Treese.
SVT does not wow you with statistics, he only had 8 points and 4 rebounds, but he provides such a spark. Today, with the Cards down by a point at half, Rick Pitino went with SVT in place of Rakeem Buckles, and it worked. Stephan gave the Cards a huge lift on both sides of the floor and ignited the Cards for a 9-3 run which gave them the lead for good.
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The Cards (4-0) now welcome in Isiah Thomas’ Florida International squad on Wednesday night. More on that game in a few days.