Saturday, December 4, 2010

Louisville Defense Impressive Early

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
With teams like Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, and Ohio State stealing the spotlight early, a team like the Louisville Cardinals (6-0) go unnoticed.

The Cardinals are off to their best start since beginning the '05-06 season with six straight victories.

Louisville has yet to be tested with an average defeat of 25.2 points a game. The Cardinals six early wins include key wins over then-No. 18 Butler, and Florida International.

Rick Pitino's scrappy young squad is doing it with defense.

The Cardinals have forced 114 total turnovers this year. That is an average of 19 per game. Louisville is also tied for fourth in the nation with 12 steals per outing.

Senior guard Preston Knowles leads the Cardinals with 2.0 steals per outing, with five other players checking in with at least one steal per game.

Knowles also adds 11.5 points, and 4.0 rebounds per outing. With such a balanced attack on offense, four other players are in double-figures for the Cardinals.

After a 23-point outing against South Alabama, Mike Marra is now the leading scorer for Louisville with 13 points, 3.8 assist, and 3.3 rebounds.

Sophomore Peyton Siva, the former McDonald's All-American, has made his mark thus far. He is averaging 10.6 points, 3.8 assist, and 1.8 steals per game.

Coach Pitino's team doesn't just play tough defense, it also attacks the glass pulling down 41.8 a game, which also ranks among the top in the nation.

Once the Cardinals get the rebound, Siva is looking to push the ball up court in transition. The Cardinals have a good transition offense that allows them to dish out 19.1 assist per game.

Their assist total also helps Louisville become one of the best scoring teams in the nation. The Cardinals are now the sixth best scoring team in the nation averaging 87.5 points per game. Louisville as a team is also shooting 48 percent from the field.

More impressively, the Cardinals have done most of this without their prized freshman Gorgui Sy Dieng. Dieng hasn't learned to play without fouling which limits his minutes to around 12 per game.

With Dieng on the court, it certainly is a lift for Louisville in the post. However, the Cardinals have been able to cover up his loss with the emergence of sophomore Rakeem Buckles, and junior Terrence Jennings.

Buckles currently averages 11 points along with 8.5 rebounds per outing. He is one guy that gets it done on the glass for Pitino, coming away with two double-doubles on the season.

Jennings chips in his 10.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game. In my eyes, Jennings is one of the top post defenders in the Big East. He has excellent size at 6-foot-9, and always tracks down the ball.

Nonetheless, if the Cardinals continue to play this well all around their isn't a reason why Louisville shouldn't be considered contenders in the Big East.

The Cardinals have another opportunity to prove they are for real at home against the No. 23 UNLV Rebels on December 11th, 12 PM ET.

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