1. Defense- Instead of sitting back in a zone, Coach Brey had the guys come out and play high-intensity man defense for 40 minutes. This strategy held Louisville to its third lowest offensive efficiency of the season. Tory Jackson lead the way with five steals and guys like Ty Nash stepped up to hold their own in the post. With how infrequently we turn over the ball, we should always force more than we give away. That happened just once over the seven game losing streak.
2. Work Ethic- In the five days following the awful loss in Los Angeles, Coach Brey turned up the intensity in practice. This included a short banishment of Ty Nash, kicked out of the gym Sunday, who was able to bounce back with 6 rebounds in 14 strong minutes. We outhustled Louisville in every faze of the game, most notably on the glass. We don't outrebound a lot of teams, but finished with 20 more boards last night.
3. Hot Shooting- The streak was spurred on by poor shooting on Ryan Ayers' account. Ryan bounced back with 19 points and Kyle McAlarney was 7-13 from the floor. That spurred on the offense and opened up opportunities for every other guy on the floor.
Looking back, that was still a great game. If we can continue the improvement shown last night, the rest of the season will be fun to watch.
Finally, props to Rick Pitino for saying some classy things last night:
"A few years ago we had to win eight out of 10 of our games and our guys dug in like Notre Dame dug in," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They didn't feel sorry for themselves. I think Notre Dame could do the same thing. These guys are terrific young men and I hope they rally the same way we did two years ago."
If I remember correctly from sources I've read, kicking players out for dogging it in practice was a common occurrence for any Bob Knight coached team.
Granted, that was 20 years ago, but having been on the end of a verbal berating by a coach for dogging it, getting tossed gets your attention a lot better than a stream of shouts imploring you to pick it up.
Kicking someone out of practice is right out of coaching 101 during a bad spell. It does get your attention.
It's good to see Coach Brey have that kind of toughness. He's a nice guy who is sometimes portrayed as a spineless players' coach.
However, I think what is more impressive is the confidence he showed in Nash last night. He gave the guy his most minutes in a Big East game and the player delivered. That's not easy after a confrontation earlier in the week.
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