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What To Expect From Louisville’s Defense

The annual game that separates an entire Commonwealth from a city by the Ohio River is nearly upon us.  For a few hours in time, everybody takes a side, either blue or red, and roots like crazy for their team to come out on top.  Recently, the blue side has been much happier than its red counterpart; taking the last four in the series, one of which en route to a national title.  Yes, Kentucky has had much more to cheer about lately, but this year the red clad rival has looked superior.  Louisville has cruised to an 11-1 record in the non-conference portion of their schedule, only stumbling to the highly rated Blue Devils of Duke.  This record, like previous seasons, has been accomplished in typical Rick Pitino style; with a tenacious defense that is notorious for forcing turnovers.  The Cardinal defense, which is the most efficient nationally according to, has forced nearly every team to be highly uncomfortable throughout the season.  This begs the all important question, how will Kentucky’s young players react?


Louisville’s biggest advantage in Saturday’s game will be their ability to force turnovers.  Through 12 games, the Cardinals are forcing opponents to turn the ball over on 30.8% of their possessions, which ranks them first nationally, ahead of Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams (29.5%).  To put that in more basic terms, Louisville would hypothetically force around 22 turnovers in a 70 possession game, which is terrifying to any team without competent ball handlers.  This tenacious pressure is primarily created by their guards, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. On the season, they’re respectively forcing steals on 4.6 and 5.9 percent of their opponent’s possessions.  Or in per game terms, 2.3 and 2.8 respectively.  These steals are also more valuable than a typical steal given the location on the floor.  Since these two are often so far from the basket while forcing turnovers, it often leads to an uncontested two at the opposite end of the floor, creating a highly efficient offense.


Luckily for Kentucky, we’ve demonstrated the ability to maintain possession of the ball at a high rate offensively.  Through 11 games, Kentucky has only lost the ball to turnovers on 17.5% of possessions (31st nationally).  Or in 70 possessions, that’d be around 12 turnovers.  This has been accomplished by multiple players, but mainly Julius Mays and Ryan Harrow.  The pair both rank inside the national top-125 in turnover rate. Mays, largely a spot up shooter, has, however, demonstrated the ability to advance the ball in times where he is a primary ball handler, only losing possession 11.4% of the time (1 per game).  Harrow, now the team’s primary ball handler and distributor, only loses the ball on 9.3% of possessions (.7 per game).  Both numbers are encouraging, but Archie Goodwin is somewhat of a question mark in this department.  He turns the ball over on 20.6% of personal possessions (3.3 per game), which sounds alarming, but Archie uses far more possessions than any player on Kentucky’s roster.  To put that Turnover Percentage number in perspective, Goodwin has a lower turnover rate than did Marquis Teague, John Wall, and Eric Bledsoe.  His per game turnovers are so high because he possesses the ball at a much higher rate than do his teammates.  Of course, it remains to be seen how any of these players will react to such an active defense.


The biggest advantage the Cards hold over Kentucky is the ability to force turnovers at a high rate.  This can certainly shift the outcome of the game in Louisville’s favor, but only if Kentucky allows that to occur.  Something that has sunk so many of Louisville’s early season opponents (other than obvious talent discrepancy) is the ability to quickly change the score with turnovers.  If Kentucky were to slow the game to a more deliberate half court pace, the impact that turnovers can potentially have will be diminished significantly.  Much of Louisville’s offense comes from their defensive pressure, so if Kentucky’s guards can limit turnovers, we could be in for a more competitive game than the computers and odds-makers think.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

62 Comments for What To Expect From Louisville’s Defense

  1. Blazer85
    5:10 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s get it on!!

  2. SexnNursinHomes
    5:23 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    I expect a 5 vs 8 hack fest.

  3. I say
    5:54 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    I just hope they let them play, last years game was the hardest game to watch with all the fouls being called

  4. BigBrother
    6:07 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    #3 if they let them play that advantages UK in my opinion. That would mean they are getting away with fouls which could increase their ability to turn us over if they aren’t calling fouls. Just as this article says if they turn us over, the game is over they win easily.

  5. BigBrother
    6:09 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Meant to say UL in my last post

  6. Monty
    6:20 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    We gon lose yo

  7. your mom
    6:34 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Slowing down the tempo and letting them set up their defense, is a horrible idea.

  8. BigBrother
    6:43 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    I probably agree with #7 but I”m not totally sure… A slower game keeps them out of transition and hopefully we could get some fouls called in the half court but then also I can see trying to run and muddy the game up because we, like them, are good in transition. Hard one to call.

  9. Coach
    6:44 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Why don’t you tell me what they’re running on “d”, clue Ralph Willard.

  10. Little brudder
    6:53 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    UofL’s famous Foul/Flop defense. Duke is to white guys and Uncle Tom’s as Louisville is to ghetto thugs and White guy that think they are black.

  11. TV Teddy
    6:58 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    You know I am one of the refs for the game.

  12. GPA
    7:07 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Whoa whoa, no more classes for us one and doner!!!

  13. Coach
    7:07 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    #10, written like a true dumb ass. That’s what I thought EE.

  14. KY Realist
    7:10 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Cal will start crying to the media tomorrow. He has done this since his memphis days. One year when his fat [email protected] was still and memphis, he cried for a week to the media. The game resulted in about 75 free throws and the game took 3 hours.

  15. Hosier Wlldcat
    7:14 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    As a fan since 1958 I have learned to except, but not like, years where we were not the best team. Still sometimes we win those games. However what I want for Christmas more than a win over the evil Cards is A Wiggins. He comes in a very power packed package that might jump out from under the tree. When you open the package the 1st thing out of it is a banner that says KENTUCKY WILDCATS 2013 NCAA National Champions. Then the Wiggins comes out with a signed letter of content to UK. Thanks SANTA.

  16. Leonard Hamiton
    7:21 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    15) Cal and Wes will not outbid me for Wiggins.

  17. OL' Roy
    7:25 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Aw shucks, Andrew W is coming to UNC. We just have too much to offer.

  18. BigBrother
    7:26 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    14 you are actually correct and I think it’s very smart for Cal to do that. Cal is right, Pitino’s teams foul, and they foul a lot! They play hacking D. If the refs call it tight, Pitino’s teams usually struggle, if the refs let them play, then Pitino’s teams can dominate because they are getting away with hacking and creating turnovers. I remember when Cal did that at Memphis in complaining to the media and then they went into Freedom Hall and beat the sh-t out of UL. The problem is we are not a good FT shooting team so in going to the line we could embarrass ourselves and leave a lot of points at the line. Pitino’s teams have always played this way; even at UK.

  19. TV Teddy
    7:30 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    BigBrother, do u actually believe Refs pay attention to the coaches?

  20. KBF
    7:31 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Happy Birthday Jesus!

  21. Truth
    7:31 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    If they call the game tight, we will have guys like Mays and Goodwin on the bench in foul trouble. They will not be able to guard Russ smith. Mays is too slow and Goodwin doesn’t know how to play d. Not sure who wiltjer is going to try to guard. That could be interesting.

  22. Careful
    7:33 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    20) Be careful, you may offend one of the liberals who run this site. That said, I love your post. Happy birthday Jesus.

  23. mudcreekmark
    7:34 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    I’m afraid we will wilt under their pressure. If the refs let them play we will get killed. Everyone remembers Pitinos strategy, they can’t call all of the fouls.

  24. Good point
    7:39 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    23) I agree with you. However, if they call it close, uofl we could be in foul trouble ourselves. They will play 9 to 11 players, while we will play 6 or 7. Could be a double edged sword.

  25. Ben
    7:47 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Pressure is off UK! We are not ready to beat a team like Louisville. It will help for the future.

  26. You Need Help
    7:50 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Christmas Day, Kentucky Realist. Doesn’t really matter what day it is to you does it? Just another day for you. Sad.

  27. BigBrother
    7:52 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    19 yes I do. Your point would mean they also don’t pay attention to a home crowd. Let me ask you this… if Cal said ” you refs suck” would they pay attention to that.? They hear what the coaches say and subconsciously it does have an effect.

  28. TV Teddy
    7:58 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    BB, I agree during the game, but not the days leading up to the game.

  29. the Big Dog
    8:00 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    The officials will have significant impact on the effectiveness of Loserville’s defense. If Siva and Smith are allowed to foul by reaching in and slapping on their press it could be a long day for UK. Siva often will commit three fouls every time up the floor on defense. If fouls are called as they should be, we will be OK.

  30. kes
    8:26 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    22. if you dont like the site, or who runs it, you can leave! no one will miss you

  31. hendoblue
    8:51 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    30, amen, brother. 22 thinks if you’re not a right-winger you couldn’t possibly be a Christian-whatever. about the game, it’s the fouls that will be called on us that worry me, not the fouls that they let ul get away with. if a couple of our key players (noel, poythress, or harrow ) get in early foul trouble it could mean bad news in a hurry. happy birthday Jesus.

  32. Final score
    9:16 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Louisville – 84. little kitties – 68. Period. End of conversation. AND Happy Birthday Jesus!

  33. Billy
    9:21 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    You idiot LOSERVILLE fans cannot truly believe that you are going to beat UK? It wont even be close LOSERVILLE has played noone and their SOS shows it. Run back to CUSA where you belong, LOSERVILLE would be maybe the 8th best team in the SEC basketball this year. UK 89 LOSERVILLE 43

  34. Bigbluestorm
    9:29 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    As a true Ky fan, and a realistic, i think UL has the upper hand, and it’s their game to lose. They foul alot with their pressure and their playing at home which means there will be no fouls called on them hardly, but hey we have won 4 straight and won in the final 4 win it counted the most, so lets let them win one so we dont remove them off the schedule due to lack of competiveness.

  35. Cal'sBloatedGut
    9:30 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Any of you inbreds going to get a third mortgage on your single wide or sell off your 78 rusted out trans am, in order to get tickets to the game?

  36. Billy's fried brain
    9:44 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    HEY BILLY BOB JOE . . . SEC=lack of competitiveness . .. LOUISVILLE BEAT the best team in the SEC – Missouri ALREADY BY 20 POINTS,!! Stop using your own Meth!!.,

  37. Louisville
    9:47 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Yo hicks! We gon woop up on ur butts cuz we be da baddest team eva. We be da best! L yeah!

  38. Cards
    9:50 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah rednecks we be da bestest! Ain’t no way u cayuts beat us 5 times in a row! We own UofK even if yall be beatin us more times. L1C4 word!

  39. Chawlie Stwong
    9:52 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    My hope for the new year is that Louisville fans act more like BBN. Love ya BBN!

  40. Rick Pitino
    9:53 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Hey BBN. If we win this year can I return to Camelot? Let’s make a deal, PLEASE!!!

  41. TheTruth
    9:58 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer and Mays could not guard a folding chair.

  42. red headed step child
    10:13 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Tard fans, listen closely, you play in the CUM center, those of us that you refer to as inbreds pay taxes of which the working class does to support the welfare programs. Your arena belongs to the state, that’s why the staff at the CUM center wears the shirts that say KFEC (KENTUCKY Fair Expo Center) not KENTUCKY FRIED EFFING CARDS.
    Get a damn job so my inbred a$$ won’t be able to out purchase you when it comes to buying tickets to “your ” areana. Enjoy your little successful run for now, it’s like that check at the first of the month, won’t last long enough to make you happy.

  43. Get off my sister
    10:29 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    42) the only welfare your paying for RED are those Meth-head trailer-trash inbreds that wear the Blue between puffs of Marlboros and rounds with their sisters . . . You inbreds better be thankful for all the taxes Jefferson County pays out . . Now go cash your WIC check and get that bag of Cheetos your BIGFAT @$$ has been craving all day!.,

  44. Billy
    10:29 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    Yea the LOSERVILLE fans all live off the government. The good people of BBN are tired of our tax dollars supporting your welfare fan base. Get a job! Oh wait that would go against everything you stand for!

  45. Actual Louisville Fan
    10:59 pm December 25, 2012 Permalink

    This is ridiculous. I come to this site on Christmas Day, hoping to see maybe some cheerful posts about how great the rivalry is for the state, how great both teams, coaches, and fan bases are. Instead, I see some very racist, hateful, mean spirited comments. Sure, I want UK to lose this game just as much as most of you all want UofL to lose.. But I’m not going to disrespect myself an others so much as to degrade an other team’s fan base via racism and hatred. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. Where is the Big Blue Nation’s Christmas spirit?

  46. nike mercurial vapor IX
    1:17 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    your content, I really likeasdf456sd4f6s4ad6f5

  47. billy
    7:12 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    There must be more than one billy on here. This Billy did not post these comments. HONESTLY! First time I have ever read anything from any other Billy but myself.

  48. bbn fan
    7:14 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    I think that UL will win the game because of a press defense that inexperienced players cannot cope with.

  49. Catlogic15
    7:36 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    #45. Works both ways and remember, it was your fans that came to OUR board and showed classless disrespect.

  50. red headed step child
    7:39 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    @43. Your right Jefferson county does pay a large % of taxes to the state. The east end is a nice wealthy area that pays its taxes. Considering your fan base makes up about 60% of metro Louisville, what percentage pays for my cigs?
    I would bet northern Kentucky has a stronger tax base than the Ville, where you find many of its residents never reap the rewards of your contribution to society.

  51. FatBlueKid
    8:32 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    Now I see our fanbase is wising up and now realize we are a far superior product with way more NBA talent. I will say it again, we have talent advantage at every position on the floor with maybe a draw between Goodwin and Smith but the size will neutralize him. Now the guy who said they would be 8th best in SEC is pretty stupid. I think we will win by 9-15. One thing that scares me is they did throttle Mizzou who is right now playing along with us the best ball in the SEC. Harrow is a completely different player than he was 2 weeks ago and he will not turn the ball over and not be phased by Louisville’s prssure. We will probably turn it over about 15 times but with an injured Dieng and he will break the team rhythm as he will be rusty and Noel should have a field day inside and be able to block a lot of shots. Cal owns 15tino, even while at Memphis. Remember 3 top 10 picks vs not one 1st rounder. Talent always wins. ALWAYS! Especially when like the last 3 yrs under Cal such a huge discretion, Big Blue 68 Loserville 57

    8:39 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    #50 $750 MILLION a year is handed out like HillBilly Heroin to non working Pot Farmers and Meth Cookers from the pockets of Louisville Tax Payers.Northern Ky. is a pizz ant compared to Louisville in terms of revenue and wealth produced.If not for Cinncy the entire area would be a trailer park.
    Google “Kentucky Poverty Rates By County” and you will see outside of Louisville and Lexington it is a Third World Country in most the other 118.
    UL gets a rare win over The Blue THIS year. We ain’t got the horses to get out of the Chicken Bucket with less than a 10 point loss.
    But Hey!! We just hired a Football Position Coach to compete in the SEC and with UL…..right?

  53. Reality Check
    8:46 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    UofL does foul a lot with all the hacking. The Ref’s can’t call all of them. It’s hilarious to watch Siva’s reaction when he is called for a foul. You can almost see what he is thinking with the expression on his face (Holy Crap!!! You didn’t call a foul the last 38 times I slapped the guy across the arm! Why are you calling it this time?) …………PRICELESS

  54. Bobbum man
    9:38 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    Final score UK- 88 UL- 12

  55. Cards
    9:47 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    whatever 54. We gonna at least drop 15 points on yall rednecks! UK 80 UL 15 L Yeah!

  56. Billy
    9:47 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    You LOSERVILLE “fans” are idiots, no way UK loses to a bunch NBA draft wannabes. I will be shocked if UK doesnt win by at least 30. We are a different team than we were a few weeks agao, plus LOSERVILLE has beaten no one. Our win over Marshall was a better win than anyone LOSERVILLE has beaten

  57. M. Pellizerrific
    9:50 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    Louisville plans to embarrass Kentucky.

    Look for pressure D the entire game.

    Louisville wins by 25 points.

  58. N. Pellizerrific
    9:57 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    UK plans to embarrass Louisville.

    Look for pressure D the entire game.

    UK wins by 25 points.

  59. Card Fan Here
    9:58 am December 26, 2012 Permalink

    UK by 48

  60. Michael
    6:53 pm December 26, 2012 Permalink

    Thumbs up #45. This trash talk is ridiculous.

  61. Michael
    6:57 pm December 26, 2012 Permalink

    UK by 8.

  62. Neil A.
    12:59 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    Pitino’s strategy last year was to hack and it actually worked to a certain degree. He just wasn’t expecting UK to hit the free throws the way they did. It was actually the first game where UK started shooting FT in the 70’s.
    If the game is called the way it should be then the UL guards get in foul trouble. There is was too much bunp and rub by both Siva and Smith at the mid-court. They foul almost everytime. It’s a home game for UL and they will probably not get those calls against them and will pull out a slight win this time, but if they meet again later this season on a neutral court the UK guards can easliy handle UL’s and the inside game of UK is too strong.