San Francisco Dons @ Louisville Cardinals
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, KY
Wednesday December 8, 2010
Time: 7:07 pm EST
T.V.: WHAS (Ch. 11 in Louisville; also: Wazoo Sports statewide) Drew Deener, play-by-play; Bob Valvano, analyst.
Radio: WKRD (790 AM, 101.7 FM) Paul Rogers, play-by-play; Doug Ormay, analyst.
Series History: UofL leads 2-1 (2-1 in Louisville)
Officials: Clarence Armstrong, Chris Beaver, Paul Fai
The Cardinals will look to move to 7-0 on the season for the first time since it opened the 1996-97 season with 10 strait victories. They will do so with a win over the K.C. Jones, Bill Cartwright and Bill Russell-less Dons of San Francisco. Louisville is ranked for the first time this season, entering the AP Top 25 at number 24 this week. They should continue to feast on lesser opponents Wednesday night.
A quick look at how the Cardinals are performing against these lesser foes: Louisville averages 87.5 points per game (sixth in the nation) and owns an average margin of victory of 25.2 points. The Cards shoot the ball at a .480 clip and limit opponents to just a 34.9 percent success rate from the floor (also good for sixth in the country). Louisville does it with a balanced attack, with ten guys playing 12 minutes or more. Mike Marra leads five players in double-digit scoring at 13.0 per game. Rakeem Buckles adds 11.0 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds, while senior Preston Knowles adds 11.5 points per night.
The Cards have averaged 12.0 steals per game, which leads the BIG EAST and is fourth nationally. Terrence Jennings is also 6th in the nation in blocks, averaging 3.5 per game.
The Dons are one of the youngest teams in Division I basketball this season with just seven years of returning D-I experience. That is good, according to a survey conducted by the University of Kentucky of all Division I programs, for the seventh least experienced roster in the country. San Francisco features nine newcomers, seven freshmen, one redshirt freshman and one transfer. Traveling cross country (2,324 miles to be exact) into one of the most hostile environments in the nation is certainly more than a daunting task.
Third year head coach Rex Walters appears to be up to that task. The former Kansas star and NBA veteran has recruited every player on this year’s roster, hence their youth. Under Walters, San Francisco has added talent, size and versatile perimeter players from outstanding prep programs, not just out of California but from around the country – and even outside of the country.
Two of Walters’ new additions are from Europe: Marko Petrovic (Croatia) and Justin Rafﬁngton (Germany). Petrovic is the nephew of former NBA star and Naismith Hall-of-Famer Drazen Petrovic. San Francisco also has another interesting connection off their bench, 6′ 7″ freshman forward Cole Dickerson is the half-brother of Michael Dickerson, who helped Arizona to the 1997 NCAA Championship and played in the NBA.
Walters let’s his youth off the leash in a run and gun offense that was showcased in the Dons’ 97-76 win against Seattle U. in the season opener. The Dons posted their first 90-plus point night against a Division I opponent since a 93-63 win against Sacramento State way back on November 17th 2007.
Sophomore guard Michael Williams is off to a blazing start, leading the team in scoring at 15.1 points per game on 43 percent shooting from 3-point range. In addition, Williams has done a nice job on the boards and ranks fifth on the team in rebounding after seven games at 4.0 per night.
San Francisco’s second leading scorer (12.1) is also the team’s leading rebounder (6.7) in junior forward Angelo Caloiaro. Caloiaro turned in the most accurate 3-point shooting season in USF history as a sophomore, connecting on 49.1 percent of his shots (55-112) from downtown.
The Dons’ leading assist man at 3.5 a game, is 6′ 4″ junior guard Rashad Green. Green is a Manhattan transfer who adds 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for San Francisco. In the middle the Dons’ feature 6′ 10″ senior from Marseille, France – Moustapha ‘The Moose’ Diarra. After an All-American junior college career at Sheridan College (Wyo.), The Moose has shown flashes of brilliance for USF, leading the team in ﬁeld goal percentage at .507 (74-146) last season.
Rick Pitino might want to make sure someone has a hand in the face of sophomore forward Perris Blackwell. Blackwell leads the Dons and ranks fourth among West Coast Conference ﬁeld goal percentage leaders at .652 (30-46) on the year. He ranks third in scoring (10.7) and rebounding (6.6) for San Francisco.
The key for the Dons’ staying in this game could be 2010 All-Central Texas Player of the Year and freshman guard Cody Doolin. Doolin put up a career-high 20 points and career-high 10 boards against Holy Names on December 1st, and a team-high 17 at CSUB in USF’s last contest December 4th. Doolin has committed only eight turnovers in 218 minutes in the Dons’ back-court.
Youth and inexperience will not prevail.
Louisville 93, San Francisco 74