What looked to be a promising week for the Cardinals ended in utter disappointment. One half away from a 2-0 week at the Yum Center, things just simply fell apart. It is hard to describe the issues this team is having. It is not hard to see that Chris Mack is not the answer. Just ask team captain, Malik Williams, who has been clearly frustrated at times this year. The fifth year senior had some very interesting things to say after Saturday’s loss to ND.
Energetic First Half on Saturday
Up 45 -38 at half, the Cardinals had the Yum Center rocking. There was energy in the building for the first time in a long time. Jarrod West could not miss from three. They were playing confident and competent basketball. Everything was leading up to the Russ Smith jersey retirement. Clearly, they wanted to win it for Russ. It seemed to be a perfect Saturday in the ‘Ville. Rick Pitino even made an appearance in the video tribute and the place exploded.
A very loud reception at the KFC Yum! Center when Rick Pitino came on the screen during Russ Smith’s jersey retirement.— Dominique Yates (@RealDYates) January 22, 2022
The Smith family went nuts when Pitino came on the screen. pic.twitter.com/sWM84LQnIH
People who say Louisville wants nothing to do with Rick are pretty much dead wrong. So, after an exciting first half and an electric halftime jersey retirement, everybody is thinking the Cards will come out with the same amount of energy and desire in the second half. Unfortunately, everybody could not be more wrong.
Second Half Disaster
The Cardinals have been slow coming out of halves pretty much all year. Within about a minute and a half, it was 45-43 and the lead they had built in the first half was gone. The next 10 minutes went back and forth. Around the seven-minute mark, Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley started to take over. He went on a 6-0 run and that was all the Irish needed to run away with this one. 65 – 64 at the eight-minute mark was 79 – 65 by the fourth minute. No resistance from the Cardinals down the stretch. Inexplicable to blow a lead like that on such a big day in Louisville. I am fully on the get rid of Chris Mack train, especially after listening to a dejected Malik Williams postgame interview.
Malik Williams Holds Nothing Back
So no. Team captain basically saying nobody is listening to the coaches anymore isn’t a great look for Mack and company. Honestly, why would they listen? What has Mack done to earn the respect of any of the players? He sits there on the sidelines when things go wrong. Does not know how to motivate these guys at all. Not going to make the tournament, AGAIN.
Louisville’s Malik Williams on fans booing: “I’m not mad at it, just to be honest with you. I understand it.”— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) January 22, 2022
Malik Williams: “I told the guys I take a lot of responsibility for what happened this year. We had a long talk last night. . . . We go out and give effort, but there’s a lot of talk that goes with it, and not a lot to back it up.”— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) January 22, 2022
He really laid it all out there. He acknowledges that he is part of the problem. This team is broken and nothing is going to be able to fix it. A hard reset is required. Chris Mack is most likely leaving after this year. I don’t know what the future of Louisville basketball is, but I do know the present is very bad. This year will definitely get worse starting this week.
Toughest Week of Season So Far
This week opens up with the Cardinals traveling to Virginia to take on the Cavaliers. Virginia is also in a down year, but I predict they will have no issues. I am not sure how Louisville is going to score this game. This game has the potential to be a very ugly, low-scoring matchup. They then host Duke Saturday, which will surely be a bloodbath. If the players have already checked out then I doubt either game will be remotely close.