There was quite the contrast in coaches during those five overtimes last night in South Bend as Louisville and Notre Dame played an epic five overtime marathon.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was smiling ear-to-ear, slapping his players on the back, obviously happy to be a part of history. Louisville coach Rick Pitino appeared to be in excruciating pain, yelling, tossing water bottles into the air, looking like he expected the worst.
But then Pitino coaches Russ Smith.
Give Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant deserves great credit for sending the game to the first overtime. The Irish guard hit three straight three-pointers in a span of 18 seconds — from the 44-second mark to the 26-second mark — to pull the home team to within 60-57. After Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng missed two free throws with 25 seconds left, Grant made an old-fashioned three-point play to tie the game at 60-60.
But Louisville should have won the game in the fourth overtime. Notre Dame’s Garrick Sherman had scored on a rebound to pull the Irish to within 93-91 with 34 seconds left when Louisville got the ball back. The shot clock was off. All Louisville had to do was hold the ball and make Notre Dame foul. Instead, “Russdiculous” drove the ball all the way to the basket where he missed a contested drive. At the other end, Sherman batted in a miss and the game went to a fifth overtime.
There, Notre Dame pulled out the 104-101 victory.
People talk about Smith’s unpredictability and about the frenetic guard being fun to watch , and he is. Unless you’re Rick Pitino.
On a more positive note, there has been some brutal college basketball this season, but there have also been some amazing games. This was one of them.