Relentless. This team is relentless. On defense Louisville is going to come after you time and time again. You beat their press once, they don't care, they're going to bring it again. You get fouled going to the hoop, don't expect them to back down the next time you get by your man.
You have to earn every point you score against them. Whether it is a deep 3 that was pushed out by their match up zone, or a contested layup that comes from beating their press. Louisville is not going to give you any easy baskets.
I've read Rick Pitino's "Success is a Choice: Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life" and steps 7 and 8 define this team.
Step 7: Thrive on Pressure
This team is built on pressure. Louisville is going to pressure you wherever you go. They are going to pressure you to get the ball in bounds. They will pressure you to get the ball across half court within 10 seconds, and if you achieve all that, whether they are in man or zone, they are going to pressure you to get into your offense. If I could rename this chapter for this Louisville team it would be "Thrive on Chaos." They love the chaos they create from their pressure.
Step 8: Be Ferociously Persistent
If their pressure doesn't get to you, their persistence will. This team hasn't won 12 straight games in Big East and NCAA Tourney play because at some point they relaxed. As a matter of fact, it's the direct opposite. They don't let up. They are relentless in their pressure. They don't really care if you just knocked down a huge 3 or dunked on them out of their press, they're coming at you again. You block a shot, they're going after it for a put back. The only thing they care about is how they get what they want in the next possession, or next second.
So how do you beat this team?
Honestly, I don't know if Oregon can. I have serious doubts about whether the make up of this Oregon team can handle the pressure and persistence that a talented Louisville team can throw at them. And why shouldn't I? This is a coach that put a team together with bubble gum and duct tape 3 years ago and has slowly been building it from there. This is really a team that was rightfully picked 7th in the down-trodden Pac 12 this year with a bunch of mismatched left over pieces and a couple of could-have should-haves thrown in for good measure.
This is a team going up against the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tourney about 100 miles from their home town. So to beat this team I think you have to focus on steps 1 and 2 of Pitino's book.
Step 1: Build Self-Esteem
Oregon has excelled this year when they play well in the first half. If Oregon can hang with this team or even, god-forbid, have a lead going into the half that will change this game. That gives the young guys playing guard, the veterans that have no tourney experience, and the coach that has never been this far in the tourney, hope that they can pull this out. You give a team that does things like rebound and play defense well hope in the NCAA tourney and you are asking for an upset.
Step 2: Set Demanding Goals
This is on Coach Altman. Don't get me wrong, the guy has done everything right this season, but he needs to push these guys to think that they can win like he's done all year. Oregon has only lost one game against a top 25 team, and that is squarely on the shoulders of Coach Altman. He believes that if you play his style, rebound and play defense, execute and take good shots, this team can hang with any team in the country. And they have proven it time after time this year.
So why is this game any different?
I've laid out some reasons that this game should be a blowout of major proportions for Louisville, but as we've seen with this Duck team that just doesn't happen. That's because Coach Altman has this team believing in demanding goals.
Well, here is the ultimate goal, beat the #1 team in country in the NCAA Tourney.