Today's post brought to you by the letter L.
Lots of Love for Luke Harangody. ESPN features the big man on its main basketball page. In addition, a Lovely article by Adam Rittenburg on the site. Plenty of great quotables there. Most notable is the table Listing players averaging 20 and 10 in conference play in the Last year (Mike Sweeney, Kevin Durant, Tyler Hansbrough, Michael Beasley). What's not to Like?
If you're an ESPN Insider, check out Fran Fraschilla's scouting report on Luke.
To Louisville (enough with the L's)-
Terrence Williams- 11.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.6 APG, 34% 3PA
Earl Clark- 10.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 20% 3PA
David Padgett- 11.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG
Andre McGee- 6.5 PPG, 1.9 APG, 41% 3PA
Jerry Smith- 10.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 40% 3PA
Edgar Sosa- 8.3 PPG, 1.7 APG, 38% 3PA, 22.1 MPG
Derrick Caracter- 8.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 18.4 MPG
Juan Palacios- 5.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 23% 3PA, 18.3 MPG
A very balanced team with eight players who have led the team in scoring in different contests. 2nd toughest defense in the conference, 3rd best defending the 3 pointer (Notre Dame is first in three point percentage on offense). Other than those two categories, Louisville doesn't rank at the top in anything. Notre Dame is tops in the league in scoring offense, FT%, 3P%, rebounding offense, rebounding margin, assists, and defensive rebounds.
That means we are facing a very well rounded and well coached squad. Obviously, Pitino knows what he is doing. Going more in depth, we notice that Louisville ranks in the top ten nationally in points allowed per possession. Though Georgetown allows the fewest points per game in the league, Louisville plays better defense at a higher tempo than the plodding Hoyas.
That's means we're going to have to match the Cardinals' intensity on D. Facing great three point shooters like McGee, Smith, and Sosa, a zone look all game will not work. The Irish will have to match up well man-to-man. The two guards, McGee and Smith, are the most efficient scorers on the team, but Clark and Padgett could cause some problems down low. Padgett missed ten games early in the season, but his 6'11" frame has caused some problems since returning. Scoring 18 against Georgetown and 21 at Pitt is a significant feat. His height could give Luke Harangody problems, but look for the Irish to have the rebounding edge.
On offense, the key as always is getting the two pronged attack going. A game along the season averages for Harangody and another solid shooting night for Kyle McAlarney will cause Louisville some serious problems. It will be interesting to see how they counter Bamm-Bamm's inside game. If the team tries to sag and double-team him, McAlarney and guys like Ayers off the bench will have open looks. They could simply allow the sophomore to play his game and try to take away the perimeter. If this is the case, we will need some penetration from Tory Jackson to provide a second wave of attack.
Should be a great game with a conference title possibly in the balance. Go get 'em, Irish.