Defensive improvement keeps McMahon on the floor


From a defensive liability to added defensive capability.

Ryan McMahon proved his game is more than one-dimensional in Louisville men’s basketball’s victory over Pitt Dec. 6. The fifth-year senior played a career-high 36 minutes, making 3 of 6 shots from behind the arc to finish with 11 points.

But it wasn’t McMahon’s perimeter shooting ability that kept him on the floor in Louisville’s second conference win of the season. McMahon’s defensive improvement has been the biggest reason Louisville coach Chris Mack keeps him on the floor longer this season.

“Ryan is a completely different player from a year ago,” Mack said.

The 6-foot guard thinks he has improved on the defensive end as the rest of Louisville’s roster team has too.

“I think more so I have confidence with my teammates behind me. We are all in our second year in the system. I can trust they are going to be doing the right responsibilities, not get burned, not leave me out on an island,” McMahon said. “I know there is going to be a guy in my gap to my left and to my right. When you’re guarding the ball, it gives you so much confidence, knowing that. Having that confidence that guys aren’t going to miss their responsibilities.”

Mack liked Louisville’s defensive performance for a second consecutive game. The Cardinals limited fourth-ranked Michigan to 25.9 percent shooting from the field and held Pitt to 46 points.

“I think it’s two games in a row where we got stops,” Mack said. “We didn’t allow second shots.”

Pitt shot 37.7 percent from the field and finished with 12 turnovers in Louisville’s ninth straight victory.

“Defensively, outside of the first five or six minutes, very tough to get in the lane on and tough to get second shots against,” Mack said. “That was the separator.”