After a very impressive performance to start the year against Butler, the Cards followed it up with an ugly, and I do mean ugly, 62-45 win over Jackson State. Outside of a few decent stretches, very brief stretches I should add, the Cards were out of sync from the start.
You could tell by the way the Cards were warming up that they were not taking this game seriously. In lay-up lines with a few minutes to go before the player introductions, the UofL players appeared more concerned with connecting on alley-oops than beating a team they should defeat soundly. In my head, I’m thinking, they sure don’t look too concerned with this game.
The game started and it was proven correct.
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After the game, Peyton Siva admitted they took Jackson State too lightly. I guess that can be expected from a young team, especially coming off a big win. However, if they do not learn from it, the next time they take a team too lightly, they will lose. If Jackson State would have shot a decent percentage, the outcome would have been much different.
This is normally when I go through the positive things I saw during the game, but in this case, the only positive I took from it was the fact UofL did win. As Herm Edwards taught us, you do in fact play to win the game. So in that regard, the Cards accomplished their goal.
And while after a disappointing performance I would normally rail against all the things I saw that aggravated me, I really think it comes back to the Cards lack of focus. Mistakes such as throwing the ball away or trying to go one-on-three on a fast break all goes back to not taking the game seriously.
We saw only a small handful of those things against Butler, a team the Cards took very serious. Against Jackson State, a team not exactly a regular fixture on ESPN, UofL played a version of basketball more akin to how the Pinkie Squad plays, on a bad day.
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Therefore, I am going to hold off until Monday night’s game before I start ranting against the sloppy play. As of now, I will just chalk up the Jackson State performance to an emotional letdown after the Butler game. However, if the Cards come out lackadaisical again, then I will alter that view and unload.
As far as individual efforts go, there was only one person who somewhat stood out and that was Mike Marra. It’s not like he set the world on fire, but Marra continues to stand out to me as a guy who looks set to really contribute. He only had 11 points, but dished out 4 assists.
Marra is also a little better defender and athlete than people give him credit for. He’s obviously not ready to man up Kobe Bryant, but he hangs with his man pretty well and is active with his hands. Right now, Marra is my prime candidate for breakout performer of the year for the Cards.
Also, I thought Peyton Siva finished up the game pretty well. Like most of his teammates, Peyton was out of sync to start things, but he got it together and played under control, which is key for him. When Peyton tries to get on the And1 highlight reel, he is a mess. But when he makes the conventional play, whether it be offensively or defensively, he looks like the player we all think he will eventually be.
All in all, the Cards got the win, just take it and move on to the next one. UofL will welcome in Chattanooga Monday night. I’ll be looking for a team with focus and energy and hopefully, that’s what we’ll see.