Hope everyone who made it out to Freedom Hall tonight for the Red/White scrimmage had as enjoyable an experience as I did. Of course I did get some strange looks when I was screaming "oh thank God, you have no idea what the past two months have been like" in between sobs, but whatever, if you haven't seen a grown man cry tears of joy at an October intrasquad scrimmage by this point in your life then I just feel sorry for you.
If you're the type of person who can only enjoy crisp, clean basketball then these types of things probably aren't for you. It was certainly far from a thing of beauty, but it wasn't particularly hard to look past the grimy exterior of a glorified early fall practice to see the potential for something special.
Juan Palacios and Jerry Smith (thigh bruise) sat out so it was seven against six, and the players (especially David Padgett) were noticeably gassed when the game went on for four or five minute stretches without a break. At the end of regulation everyone was beat and the level of play - not intensity - decreased dramatically.
I believe the official attendance was just below 12,000, which is impressive considering that the weather likely kept a number of people away. It was a pretty laid back atmosphere for the most part, but it did get loud when T-Will was holding the ball and getting ready for the last shot at the end of regulation.
At this point I probably would have paid to watch these guys shoot free-throws for two hours, so getting to see some actual competition was extremely fulfilling. Though one 40-minute game of basketball can certainly be misleading, here are my individual observations after seeing this team in action for the first time.
I've said this at least a hundred times by now, but I'm going to say it again: Terrence Williams is not an awful shooter. He's not a great shooter, but he isn't awful either. Instead of yelling "no" every time he shoots a three, people should yell "no" every time he shoots a three and fades away. Nine out of ten times you can tell whether or not a T-Will trey is going in based just on whether or not he shoots the ball going straight up. He faded away on his first two attempts from beyond the arc and wasn't even close, but went straight up near the end of regulation and then in overtime and everything started falling. If I were on the coaching staff I would watch game film and make Williams run for every three-point attempt he took fading away, it would be the best possible thing for his game.
We've been watching this kid for two years now, and still it seems like he does something every game that's so ridiculously athletic that everyone in the crowd turns and looks at each other. He's going to make his fair share of mistakes like he did tonight, but the offense should always run through No. 1 because he is far and away the best playmaker this team has. His rebounding also continues to be the most underrated facet of anyone's game on the team.
I caught myself on more than one occasion telling my sister (who could have cared less) that Delk was an absolute player. He doesn't have a great stroke so I doubt we're ever going to be able to rely on him to shoot the ball as well as he did tonight, but he really looks like he understands the game and is the type of guy you love to have on teams that are oozing with talent. This was the standout player of the scrimmage in my eyes.
We may have gotten a steal here folks. I was impressed with the way Knowles ran the offense, but even more impressed with the way he played defense. He is an extremely skilled and intense on-ball defender, and I can't imagine what the battles between him and Sosa are like in practice.
He got the start at point for the white team, presumably because Sosa's left ankle is still a little gimpy, and after coming out a bit tentative he really started to assert himself near the end of the first half. He was advertised as a streaky shooter coming in, and I think everyone in attendance was witness to the accuracy of his prep scouting report. He missed badly on his first three attempts, but after hitting two in a row in the last ten minutes of regulation he was totally locked in.
Playing time is obviously going to be hard to come by with a sophomore and junior sitting at one and two on the depth chart, but I think Knowles is going to play more minutes than any of us would have envisioned two months ago.
Based on Pitino's practice reports, I think that the Derrick Caracter we all saw Monday night is the Derrick Caracter coach sees every single day at practice. He was completely unstoppable for stretches and completely average for others. Every time I see him on the floor I'm blown away by his undeniable skill, but his inability to hone that talent is almost equally astounding. Just watch him shoot free throws, sometimes he steps to the line totally focused and strokes two in a row, and other times he's looking around at the crowd or the opposing bench and puts a pair off the back iron. And I'm convinced that he really doesn't want these types of things to occur, but has no idea how to prevent them.
When I was growing up and playing sports I was always pretty solid in games, but very average in practice. It wasn't that I didn't try just as hard, but I was never able to trick my mind into thinking that the jump shot I was about to take or the pitch I was about to throw was as important as the one I'd be taking or throwing during an actual game. It was maddening for the coaches, and I always felt bad about it, but it was something I could never figure out how to fix. I honestly think there's something similar going on inside Caracter's head, and whenever he figures out how to overcome it he's going to be tremendous.
Also, still fouling too much.
There was talk that Earl had grown a little bit over the summer, and since my Heroes power is the ability to pinpoint people's height from great distances, I can confirm that he's an inch taller than he was a season ago. Earl was great around the basket on both ends of the floor, and had an impressive blocked shot and left-handed lay-up late in the game, both coming at the expense of Terrance Farley. The only thing I didn't like from him was that on three separate occasions he took the worst shot in basketball: the jump shot from a step inside the three-point line.
It was a poor free-throw shooting night from just about everyone not named David Padgett, but I was especially disappointed in Clark because it looked like his form had completely changed. His stroke lacked any confidence; it was one of those noodle-armed, high arcing, pray that it gets there kind of strokes. Still, his rebounding is going to be enormous for us, and he's without a doubt the best finisher around the basket on the team.
He wore a white t-shirt with sleeves underneath his red jersey, perhaps to pay homage to another super-cool big man with a knack for hitting big outside shots: Tobiah Hopper. At least that's how I'm looking at it.
Looked like he needed an oxygen take from about four minutes into the game on. David really needs to get himself back into shape, but he's the heart and soul of this team and he'll be there come Nov. 17.
He's still always going to prefer the half-hook, but he did hit a turnaround jumper in the second half, and if he can get himself to the point where he's making that shot 40 or 45 % of the time he's taking it then his game is going to be that much more dangerous because by the end of last season defenders were just draping themselves on his left shoulder. That sentence was too long, but I don't feel like changing it.
T-Far is still the same shot-blocking machine he's always been, and will be able to contribute valuable minutes whenever he needs to. He has great offensive skills, but they still only come out whenever he's feeling confident. If he makes a shot or two then look out, but if he turns the ball over a couple of times in a row then he's done. He's also got to stop trying to take so many charges. You're 7-foot-1 Terrance, no one believes that that 5-10 guard just ran you over.
It was great to see him assert himself a little more vocally than he has in the past. I saw him mentoring George Goode on a number of occasions, which is what seniors do on successful teams.
Started at the two on the white team, again presumably because his left ankle is still a little tender. I think this was evident early in the first half when he was alone on a break and couldn't quite get up enough to dunk the ball.
People talked about him vastly improving his jump shot in the offseason, but I'll believe he's not a streak shooter when I see it. I'm of the belief that while there are a few exceptions here and there, shooters are generally born rather than developed or molded.
He made a few head-turning plays, but just as many head-shaking decisions. His ability to recognize when to try and score and when not to try and score is one of the five biggest keys to us having a successful season, in my estimation. My fear is that he's coming into the season with a chip on his shoulder after the A&M game, and is going to try and get it off by coming out and scoring 25 every night. His ability to get into the lane with ease is huge for this team, but his continued development as a true point guard is even bigger.
Apparently Andre's belief that he's actually a 6-9 forward with an 85-inch wingspan who won't get his shot blocked if he drives into two post players has yet to dissipate. If you don't have numbers then please pull the ball out, because if you don't it's not going to end well for our side.
Andre did not have a good shooting night, but like all scholarship guards not named Jerry Smith he's always going to be up and down. I was surprised at how well he defended, seeing as how it hasn't been considered one of his strong suits during his first two seasons here. He anticipated several passes and stayed right with Knowles and Sosa. It was very encouraging.
Pitino said in his practice reports that he doesn't expect Goode to be much of a contributor during his freshman season, but I think he may have been a bit overly presumptuous. I, for one, was impressed with the little I saw of Goode. He comes in with a pretty solid skill set and a body that is much more college-ready than I thought it was going to be.
Knocked down three triples, but I really think he may have put on the worst passing display in the history of Freedom Hall. Also made several atrocious errors on defense including an awful gamble on a bounce pass when the white team was scrambling to get something off before the shot clock expired. I'm as big a fan of Big Tuna (he went to Cornell...ever heard of it?) as anyone, but I'm afraid his glory days as a Cardinal may already be behind him.
His shot left him once the game got late and he got a little tired, but he put on a mini-exhibition early in the first half. I really think that Stu has enough overall talent to be a solid player at a low-major school. Obviously he's got the height thing working against him though.
Managed to stroke a triple and a lay-up in what will inevitably be the most court time he sees until this game next year. Still, I don't know why anyone who has the choice of walking on at a place like Louisville or being a solid contributor at a super small D-1 or D-2 school chooses the latter. I mean the fact that myself and several thousand other people know who Lee Steiden is and know a little bit about his strengths and weaknesses as a basketball player says all that really needs to be said about the decision. If the Cards win a national title this season then he gets the exact same ring that the Final Four MVP does. You made the best decision of your life kid, live it up.
And now your somewhat difficult to read box score:
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Williams, Terrence.. 8-21 3-5 5-8 6 13 19 0 24 7 7 1 1 44
05 Clark, Earl......... 7-15 1-2 2-6 2 13 15 8 17 7 1 2 2 41
04 Padgett, David...... 6-14 0-0 4-4 4 4 8 7 16 1 3 1 0 37
20 Scott, Will......... 3-12 3-9 0-0 1 3 4 1 9 1 2 0 1 30
33 McGee, Andre........ 1-7 1-5 0-0 0 2 2 1 3 3 2 0 4 34
00 Miller, Stuart...... 5-10 3-8 0-0 0 0 0 3 13 2 2 0 1 26
25 Steiden, Lee........ 2-5 1-3 0-0 3 0 3 1 5 0 0 0 0 13
Totals.............. 32-84 12-32 11-18 18 36 54 21 87 21 17 4 9 225
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
32 Caracter, Derrick... 8-20 0-0 5-11 3 7 10 6 21 2 6 3 1 39
43 Farley, Terrance.... 3-8 0-0 0-2 2 5 7 5 6 2 2 4 1 37
02 Knowles, Preston.... 5-12 3-6 0-0 2 7 9 3 13 4 3 0 2 44
10 Sosa, Edgar......... 4-18 2-7 8-11 2 3 5 4 18 4 4 0 2 39
12 Delk, Reginald...... 7-11 2-5 1-5 1 8 9 2 17 2 4 1 3 43
22 Goode, George....... 3-4 0-1 1-1 1 6 7 0 7 1 2 0 0 23
Totals.............. 30-73 7-19 15-30 14 36 50 20 82 15 21 8 9 225