Cardinals Beat Bellarmine
The Bellarmine Knights continued their inaugural season at the Division I level with a rescheduled game against UofL yesterday.
The move up from Division II to Division I typically takes a few years for the team to adjust, begin recruiting at a higher level, and develop into a competitive team. Alas, that's what we saw with Bellarmine yesterday, with UofL easily winning the contest 97-46.
The Cards got the job done largely with their size and strength. Six players scored double figures, including nearly all of the bigs. Olivia Cochran lead with 15, Liz Dixon was just behind with 14, Kianna Smith, Dana Evans, and Noriko Konno each came up with 11, and Ramani Parker scored 8. Most of the score differential can be found in the "Points in the Paint" stat, where UofL outscored Bellarmine 64-24.
I would normally be tempted to use second change points as another stat to bolster the argument that the bigs were the difference, and indeed, that stat does account for the rest of the score differential with a 22-4 advantage to the Cards. That argument is weakened somewhat when you look at the offensive rebound stats, though. Of the 17 Cardinal offensive rebounds, only three were collected by the crew we typically think of as the bigs of this squad, Cochran, Dixon, Parker, and Williams. The leading rebounders, as seems to be the way of this team, were guards, Hailey van Lith and Merissah Russell with eight and seven.
The shooting in the game felt a bit rough still, though the stats don't really back that up when you look at 60.9% from the field for the Cards. From beyond the arc, things don't look quite as rosey. The total percentage isn't terribly, 18.8%, but the volume of shots was a little lower than normal, only 16. The ugly part of it was the three point shooting in quarters divisible by two, where the Cards made exactly zero three point shots.
The general takeaway from this one is that Bellarmine was just outplayed by a better team. That, however, is what was really expected here, and cannot, in any sane approach to the game, be considered an insult to Bellarmine. UofL is sitting in the number two position in the national polls, and Bellarmine is brand new to Division I play. This game was a nod of respect within a new cross-town, and at least so far, very friendly, rivalry.
Both teams are dealing with game postponements and cancellations, as are most college basketball teams, the stars and calendars aligned, and they made a game happen. It was, hopefully, fun and helpful for both teams and everyone seemed to go away with smiles on their faces and talk of making this a yearly tradition...maybe even a "home and home" between the KFC Yum! Center and Freedom Hall.
Credit goes to Bellarmine's team for not ever giving up in this game. They were getting easily outscored, but they kept their head's up and continued throwing everything they could at the Cards, and you could see where they gave the Cardinal's vaunted backcourt some challenges, at least at times.
Seeing the Louisville frontcourt come out and have a good game and be, really, the biggest deciding factor was great as well. The guards for UofL get a lot of attention, including from us here at Cardinal Couple, and with some good reason as there are a lot of them, and they're all very good players, but sometimes our frontcourt gets a bit overlooked in the Guardapalooza. Olivia Cochran continues to develop and improve game over game. Liz Dixon came out and had a good game. Ramani Parker contributed a lot in her 10 minutes of playing time, and we even got to see Malea Williams on the floor for five minutes.
The Cardinals and the Knights both have a postponed game listed on the calendar next - Virginia for the Cards, and Morehead State for the Knights. The next game still expected to go forward for the Cards will be UNC at 2:30pm on Tuesday to get back into conference play. The Knights will start their conference play in the Atlantic Sun conference with a two day double-header against Lipscomb in Nashville next weekend. Game times are 2pm on Saturday and Sunday the 9th and 10th.
A BIG Thank you to Jared Anderson for today's photos of the game!
FREE THROWS -- The Cards went 16-24 from the line. Yes, they played 12 players and no one took more than five, but the 66% falls below our preferred 70% for a letter, so...no letter
REBOUNDS -- Cards were dominant and held a 48-18 edge in rebounding. That's quite impressive and we'll award a CAPITAL "R" here.
EFFORT/EXECUTION -- Dominance prevailed here, with the Cards getting 64 points in the paint, 54 bench points and only eight turnovers. CAPITAL "E"...no problem.
DEFENSE -- The Cards held BU to 32 % shooting and 17% three-point shoots. BU had only four second-chance points. No doubt about it -- A CAPITAL "D".
FINAL FRED TALLY: _-R-E-D
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
Daryl, Case, and I were the main contributors to the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour yesterday as Jared and Paulie were arriving at the KFC Yum! Center for the game right after the show. Jared managed to find a quiet location within the arena, apparently the pool photographer's room in the media area, and was able to call in and contribute some good thoughts. Paulie also called in from out in the main arena area.
Topics of discussion obviously included analysis of the NKU game, previewing the Bellarmine game, and ongoing scheduling juggling. As always, you can catch the replay below, or Case's podcast version of it (slightly edited) wherever you get your podcasts.