Mitchell’s other welcomed development was more circumstantial.
The offseason hype train started in Los Angeles, where Mitchell and fellow teammate Deng Adel drew rave reviews at Adidas Nation. After hitting only 25 percent of his threes as a freshman, Mitchell showed the promising strides he had made on his jumper. Suddenly he had the counterstrike he needed to balance out his drives to the rim.
The jump shot has been Mitchell’s most noticeable improvement as a sophomore. He’s already hit 76 threes this season at a 37.1 percent clip after only taking 72 all year as a freshman. He hit six threes in a January game against Pitt, then did again the next game against NC State. When Mitchell hit six threes again against Syracuse in late February, it didn’t feel all that surprising.
Mitchell’s other welcomed development was more circumstantial. When starting point guard Quentin Snider went down with a hip injury in the middle of ACC play and backup Tony Hicks broke his hand a week later, Pitino was forced let Mitchell handle the ball. It worked out better than anyone would have anticipated.
Louisville went 4-2 with Mitchell at point guard, with one loss coming at No. 10 Florida State and the other happening with two starters suspended against Virginia. Pitino saw enough to name Mitchell a captain at the end of that stretch, a fitting reward for his breakout as the team’s best player.
This Benfica side were arguably the weakest to make it through into the Champions League knockout stages, with their run a testament to the organizational abilities of coach Rui Vitória. Indeed, their first half performance here was one that Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid would’ve been proud of, with their two strikers tirelessly working back behind the ball, and their midfield four sitting narrow to deny space for the likes of Julian Weigl and Gonzalo Castro to form triangles with Dortmund’s attacking trident. They’ll be kicking themselves for their costly lapses in concentration shortly after the halftime whistle, which undermined their impressive earlier efforts.