Well we certainly have some storylines here. Louisville vs. Colorado State. Tom Jurich came from Colorado State to Louisville. Larry Eustachy (Colorado State’s Head Coach) played high school with Tom Jurich. Tom Jurich nearly hired Eustachy to replace Denny Crum and was his 2nd choice if Rick Pitino had declined.
I’ve been to Ft. Collins, CO. It was back in 2002 when the Cards traveled to face the Rams in Football. It was a great game, the Cards lost by 3. I remember the stadium being at the bottom of a huge mountain, getting half dollars for change, and that they actually had a ‘live’ Ram to go along with their human mascot. I really enjoyed the trip. It was a LATE game and we got lost leaving (this was a pre-GPS time) and almost ended up in Wyoming. But in terms of basketball, this is a TOUGH game. Colorado State is the #1 Rebounding team in the nation with a rebound rate of 58.7% of all available rebounds.
As it happens I’ve spent the last 24 hours trying to find a reason to NOT like Colorado State. Their program, their people, everything about them is really a great example of college athletics. Pierce Hornung is a BEAST. Just 6-5 averages over 9 rebounds a game. I interviewed him last season at the KFC Yum! Center and I came away really impressed with him as a person and then watching his game it was clear that he is a workhorse. Hornung is a problem todoay for the Cards.
Also Colton Iverson vs. Gorgui Dieng is a HUGE match-up today. Iverson at 6-10, 261 lbs is a MOUNTAIN of a person. Colorado State does a lot inside and Gorgui is going to have his hands full today. He’ll need help, and because of the Rams depth I expect Rick Pitino to keep fresh bodies running at Hornung, Iverson, and forward Greg Smith all game. I also got to know Smith a little in Louisville last season…….another great person. I really didn’t want to play Colorado State in this tournament, it’s a match-up problem and their locker room is full of likable guys. Unlike Missouri. The sentiment was shared by the trio of Louisville assistants Richardson, Keatts, and Jones last Thursday night/early Friday morning and then confirmed at Friday’s Press Conference with Rick Pitino. Colorado State is a problem.
Larry Eustachy has done great work during his career. I think his most impressive work to date was at Iowa State before Eustachy went into the wrong side of the public when it was confirmed that he was suffering from alcoholism. Eustachy will be 10 years sober this April and he has done a fantastic job of turning his life around and building basketball programs. Eustachy left Southern Miss after an 8-year stint in fantastic shape to take over this very good Colorado program. They are hard-nosed, just like their coach.
Today much of the focus is going to be on rebounding. And it should be. The Rams are the #1 team in the nation in Rebound Rate and Chane Behanan hasn’t bothered hitting the glass for about 8 games. Still the Cards have been winning. I’m going to keep a close eye on the early interior rotation. I think Stephan Van Tresse will be a HUGE factor in this game and I think Montrezl Harrell’s recent play might see Pitino move towards him early on too. Rick Pitino needs ACTIVE rebounders. Colorado State’s front court isn’t overly athletic….but they are RELENTLESS. They will pursue the ball underneath the floor, and Louisville MUST match that effort or fall victim like Missouri who was out-matched on the glass 36-18.
One of the reasons why Colorado State is so tough to beat, is evidenced in THIS column. I’ve spent this entire time talking Colorado St’s front court & coach and haven’t mentioned their back court yet. But Dorian Green is an outstanding college guard & Wes Eikmeier can stroke it from outside. Peyton Siva & Russ Smith are probably the best Guard Combo in the NCAA, but the Cards will need Luke Hancock, Wayne Blackshear, and Kevin Ware to help fill the void. Colorado State has some depth at guard, not much at forward & Center.
Larry Eustachy told his wife when the tournament started to “Get Some Extra Money out of the ATM, we are going to be here for awhile.” Eustachy is confident in his team even leading up to facing the #1 Overall Seed in the NCAA Tournament 80 miles from their home. That’s scary and should tell you that we are going to be in for a battle. Buckle up. It is win or go home time.
|Strength of Schedule||5th||36th|
|Points Per Game||73.6 (31st)||72.3 (53rd)|
|Avg Scoring Margin||+15.6 (4th)||+8.7 (35th)|
|Field Goal %||44.5% (93rd)||44.3% (105th)|
|Rebound Rate||52.6% (60th)||58.7% (1st)|
|Blocks Per Game||4.2 (78th)||1.8 (326th)|
|Steals Per Game||10.7 (2nd)||4.6 (330th)|
|Assists Per Game||15.0 (26th)||12.8 (145th)|
|Turnovers Per Game||12.6 (112th)||10.7 (10th)|
|Team Fouls Per Game||17.7 (179th)||17.0 (109th)|
|2-point FG%||49.5% (85th)||48.4% (136th)|
|3-point FG%||33.1 (208th)||33.4% (191st)|
|Free Throw %||71.1% (117th)||70.9% (126th)|
|Opponent Shooting %||38.8% (16th)||41.8% (114th)|
|Opponent 2-point FG%||42.7% (27th)||46.6% (135th)|
|Opponent 3-point FG%||31.2% (49th)||33.9% (172nd)|
|Opponent Block Per Game||3.5 (187th)||3.3 (141st)|
|Opponent Steals Per Game||5.8 (65th)||5.0 (11th)|
Player for Player Stats
|Peyton Siva||Dorian Green|
|6-0, 185, Sr.||6-2, 192, Sr.|
|Field Goal %||41.20%||42.50%|
|Russ Smith||Wes Eikmeier|
|6-1, 165, Jr.||6-3, 168, Sr.|
|Field Goal %||40.80%||37.60%|
|Wayne Blackshear||Pierce Hornung|
|6-5, 230, Soph||6-5, 210, Sr.|
|Field Goal %||41.50%||54.10%|
|Chane Behanan||Greg Smith|
|6-6, 250, Soph||6-6, 221, Sr.|
|Field Goal %||50.20%||46.40%|
|Gorgui Dieng||Colton Iverson|
|6-11, 245, Jr.||6-10, 261, Sr.|
|Field Goal %||49.80%||59.90%|
|Montrezl Harrell||Jon Octeus|
|6-8, 235, Fr.||6-4, 170, Soph.|
|Field Goal %||55.80%||35.40%|
|Luke Hancock||Daniel Bejarano|
|6-6, 200, Jr.||6-4, 202, Soph|
|Field Goal %||39.80%||37.90%|
|Stephan Van Treese|
|6-9, 245, Jr.|
|Field Goal %||65.70%|
|6-2, 175, Soph|
|Field Goal %||43.60%|