I think it's safe to say that these guys have some potential.
I'm reticent to go any further seeing as how this was the first summer I've ever been higher on the prospects of Louisville football than the general public, and now here I am in late October thinking crazy thoughts as we near first tip. Still, I can't recall a more polished debut performance by a Louisville basketball team (keep in mind that the championship years were over by the time psychologists say my first memory could have occurred).
Great energy, great effort, great offensive execution, all of which led to a blowout of a team that would probably compete for a championship in a number of D-1 leagues (I'm looking at you Southland Conference).
Anyway, I'm either too lazy or too talentless (you pick) to write a well-structured post at the moment, so it's time for the game that's all the rage in South Dakota...Liked/Disliked.
LIKED: Guard play.
With the exception of a couple of "I'm going to get into the lane, jump and see what happens" moments, this was the Edgar Sosa we need to have the kind of season many are predicting. Sosa's ability to fully grasp the role of a point guard and hone his talent accordingly remains one of, if not the, the biggest keys to this year.
The defensive play of Andre McGee was a pleasant surprise for the second straight Monday evening. He also didn't head towards the basket with the hope of being able to throw the ball through an opposing post player, which was refreshing. There's no denying that we lose a little bit when Andre comes in for Sosa, but it's not like he wouldn't start for a number of teams in this conference. He's a heady, experienced player who will have his moments offensively from time-to-time, and championship teams almost always have a guy like that waiting in the pen.
Preston Knowles again made the most of the little time he was allotted. Like I said last week, playing time is going to be hard to come by when you have two talented older players manning your position, but don't be surprised if early in the season we see Knowles sent into the game if Sosa, McGee or Smith have a lazy moment on defense. Preston provides instant energy, and I can't imagine that part of his game taking a night off.
Too much hand-checking, not enough feet moving. Pretty standard early in the season stuff, but a lot of these guys should know better.
LIKED: Derrick Caracter
He looked to be in better shape than we've ever seen him, and didn't make any of the egregious mental errors that sometimes plagued his freshman season. Missed a couple chippies, but half the time the moves he made to get himself in such great position to score had already dominated my attention so much that I didn't notice.
Also, how about that free-throw shooting? He has a nice enough to stroke to have this kind of night from the stripe every time out. Good things happen when you focus, and here's to concentrating on the front of the rim.
The fact that Caracter chose to stick it out here when Pitino all but told him to go ahead and start thinking about the NBA last year speaks volumes, and I think he's going to have a tremendous sophomore season.
DISLIKED: Out-of-bounds play defending
This was an area of concern for much of last season. Too many times Carleton ran pretty elementary pick plays under the basket and ended up having a guy wide open. A couple of times we got away with it because our players are a lot taller than theirs, but a month from now that isn't going to be the case. Most teams will go zone on out-of-bounds plays, but Pitino has consistently bucked this norm since he's been here, which is fine so long as we stop giving up easy hoops underneath the, uh, hoop.
LIKED: T-Will's passing
Good Lord this kid is a player, and don't ever take anyone who tells you otherwise seriously. The pass on the break to Caracter made Brian Brohm's jaw drop...Hunter Cantwell, conversely, shrugged his shoulders and continued eating his hot dog.
DISLIKED: The introduction music
Timbaland is fine for spiky-haired club kids looking to jump anything with a pulse, but not so much for the introductions at a basketball game. Each variation in the intro music since the second-half of last season has been a downgrade from Zombie Nation. If there's nothing better out there then let's just stick with the one-word song because at least the patrons have the clapping rhythm down.
LIKED: David Padgett's all-around game
Padgett did his best Cornelius Holden impersonation, going 7-of-7 from the field, scoring 18 points and snatching 13 boards. Didn't look nearly as exhausted as he did last week, and moved as well as I've seen him move in three years. And even though he missed a pair tonight, the importance of his ability to knock down free-throws can't be understated. Barring another injury, I'm fully expecting Padgett to have an all-conference season...of course like 35 guys make all-conference now, but whatever, he's going to have a great year is what I'm trying to say.
DISLIKED: Rebounding position
We went over-the-top to snatch a lot of rebounds, especially on the offensive end, which is something we're not going to be able to do against teams who's front-lines don't resemble Ballard's.
LIKED: Stylin' George Goode and Reggie Delk
I was very disappointed that NCAA Clearinghouse issues kept George Goode off the court, but that didn't stop the freshman from making a statement in his Freedom Hall debut. The sweater vest on khaki pants outfit was something that, quite frankly, I wasn't sure the kid had in him. Reggie Delk, meanwhile, opted for a sleek blue button-down over black dress pants look that left me excited to see what else he'll bring to the table in his year off.
DISLIKED: The Padgett/Farley experiment
One or the other please.
LIKED: Earl Clark
Earl was just barely off all night, but I loved the attitude he brought to the court. Basketball is a strange game in that you can do so many things well, but if you have an off-night shooting people are going to talk about how poorly you played. Earl seems to be approaching this season in precisely the right manner and I'm extremely anxious to see just how good he can be in his second year.
DISLIKED: People hoarding the team posters
Despite heavy traffic we got to the game about 20 minutes before tip, and low and behold all the posters had already been snatched up. Can't say I was surprised to see a handful of people walking around with about 15 or 20 in their hands after the game. Congrats people, you're ruining America.
LIKED: First referee shirt guy spotting of the season
A rite of autumn as sacred as leaf-pile jumping.
DISLIKED: No Sedat
If I don't get a handstand or a hug before Thanksgiving then I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it to Christmas.
LOVED: The fact that it's officially basketball season
I really don't think I could be more excited about the five-month journey that began Monday night.