Louisville’s rough start to the season hit another gear Tuesday as Texas Tech trounced the Cardinals, 70-38, at the Maui Invitational. The 38 points marked the fewest Louisville scored in a game since 1948, nearly 40 years before college basketball adopted the shot clock.
“First of all, all credit goes out to Texas Tech. Great team. Great defensive team,” said first-year Louisville coach Kenny Payne. “The lesson in it, you know, us coming to Maui was to walk away and learn about ourselves. And the two things I take away from Arkansas and Texas Tech so far, their defense, their ability to create turnovers. It’s not about how skilled they are. It’s about their will.
“They imposed their will on us consistently throughout the whole game and we turned the ball over and we shot a bad percentage because of them,” Payne said. “We have to learn from that and we have to play the similar way as they played. I thought when we pressed and got after ’em in the second half a little bit we created some of that same type of energy that they have defensively toward us.”
Louisville is off to an 0-5 start, though the first three losses came by a point apiece. Then Louisville started its Maui journey against Arkansas, falling 80-54, then struggled against Texas Tech.
“I would say talking more collectively. I feel like, even myself, I find myself not talking as loud or as much as I should,” JJ Traynor said, when asked what he would like to focus on improving. “I feel like working on that and then just being more desperate, just fighting more, I feel like.”
Louisville did find some positive minutes off its bench group, and Payne said he would evaluate what the Cardinals did well.
“Well, two things: One is, you know, everything that we’ve been teaching since we’ve been here has been about handling adversity,” Payne said. “I’m evaluating players just like anybody else would. So when we’re playing this game and as we’re playing it, I’m seeing and watching body language. I’m watching to see who is going to fight through adversity, who is going to hang their head, who is going to fight through and give us positive energy when we need a basket, when we need a stop, who is going to rebound the ball with two hands instead of going after it with one, who is going to be strong with the ball and pivot and keep the ball tight and squeeze the ball, or who is going to be loose with it in pressure situations.