Ryan McMahon sees reserve role as an advantage for Louisville

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Ryan McMahon told Chris Mack he would be a better player coming off the bench.

The fifth-year senior start the first 13 games for Louisville men’s basketball, but the Cardinals’ head coach has replaced McMahon in the starting lineup with Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble the past three games. McMahon proved his point as a reserve, going 6 of 10 from the field for 17 points in Louisville’s 67-64 victory over Notre Dame in South Bend Jan. 11.

Mack changed Louisville’s guard rotation after its loss to Kentucky Dec. 28. Kimble and Perry start in the backcourt while McMahon and freshman David Johnson come off the bench, typically after the first media timeout.

The reshuffling of the rotation was an effort to get Johnson more playing time earlier in the first half. Mack said McMahon was “all in” for the change in the guard rotation.

“I give Ryan all the credit in the world,” Mack said. “He was very accepting of it, he was all for the team.”

McMahon isn’t a stranger to coming off the bench for Louisville. He had just one start in his first three seasons for the Cardinals. He sees it as an advantage.

“I get to see what the other team is doing defensively and offensively to try to exploit our offense or defense,” McMahon said. “When I get into the game I get to try to combat that or correct it. It is much easier to see the game from the sideline than it is when you’re actually on the court.”

Known as a perimeter shooter with 151 made 3-pointers in his career, McMahon showed the ability to score off the dribble against Notre Dame. He had back-to-back possessions in the first half on drives toward the basket that ended in layups. McMahon also scored in transition in the second half.

He hopes his ability to score off the dribbles on drives that setup midrange jumpers or layups will force defenders to play him more honestly.

“I try to take what the defense gives me and go with it,” McMahon said. “My teammates have done an incredible job looking for me.”

Before making 3 of 5 shots from behind the arc against Notre Dame, McMahon was just 3 of 12 on 3-point attempts in the previous three games. He is shooting 44 percent on 3-point shots this season.

He hasn’t noticed any changes on his shooting from early in the season to now.

“I feel like I have been shooting the ball really well in practice,” McMahon said. “I haven’t been able to knock down those shots in games for whatever reason, maybe I am getting pushed out further than I realize, maybe I’m rushing my shot. I don’t know what it is, but I feel very confident the way I have been shooting recently.”

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