The final score didn’t matter. Nobody cared what team won the scrimmage. This night was about the fans showing support for this Louisville squad. Big names in UofL’s basketball history surrounded the court: Denny Crum, Jerry Jones, Wiley Brown, Roger Burkman, Luke Whitehead, to name a few.
If you were there, I won’t be telling you things you didn’t see for yourself. I coach high school basketball, so I do tend to watch the game from a different viewpoint. But I will attempt to paint the picture of how the team looked for those that could not make it out on Friday night. To keep it simple and easy to read, I will just go with some quick hitters and takeaways.
-Ryan McMahon left the game early with a rib injury. He ran into a screen and went down to the floor in pain. The refs blew the whistle after the possession to stop play and McMahon was taken to the locker room and never returned. He is listed as day-to-day, but aren’t we all?
-V.J. King scored 30 points on 12/19 shooting and looked comfortable doing it. If he just gets to play ball and doesn’t worry about making mistakes and coming right out of the game, he could make a big leap in his sophomore season. We saw glimpses of what he could do last year. With Donovan Mitchell now in the NBA, King should have a chance to fill that void and play his game. His game is scoring, and he showed just what he can do. I can’t say all of that and not point out that he did have nine turnovers though. Points are good. Having nine less possessions is not.
-The veterans are who we thought they were. And that’s not a bad thing, there just wasn’t anything major to report about Quentin Snider, Ray Spalding, Deng Adel, and Anas Mahmoud.
-Quentin is going to run this team and be in control. He isn’t going to yell at people. He won’t try to do too much. He is a steady hand and that’s perfect for this team. He did a little bit of everything on the stat sheet with 12 points, four rebounds, and five assists. Appreciate what he does. I feel like we take him for granted.
-Ray Spalding is athletic and long and full of potential. We knew all of that. We are just waiting for that to translate into real games and on a consistent basis. He finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds.
-Deng Adel is the most versatile player on the team. I am not breaking any news here. He can shoot, drive, and play defense. He is one of the vocal leaders on the floor as well. He had 32 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists in 40 minutes. He also drove the length of the floor with Anas Mahmoud on his hip, and that obviously upset Adel as he crammed a left handed dunk right over the outstretched arm of Mahmoud. It was ridiculous. These words don’t do it justice. I expect some major highlight reel dunks from Deng this season.
-Anas Mahmoud is what he has been. A finesse player around the basket. He will block shots and get rebounds. He had an impressive block on Ray Spalding in transition. But he is the same Anas we are all accustomed to.
-Jordan Nwora is currently icing his shoulder from taking so many shots. The stats have him as only taking 14, but it felt like 41. I’m not mad. The kid was 7/14 and 4/6 from three for 18 points. You could tell that everytime he touched the ball, he was wanting to hoist it. He knows he can score and you have to like that confidence.
-Other freshmen struggled on offense. Malik Williams shot 1/10 from the field, but the big man grabbed 17 rebounds. Darius Perry was 2/10, but dished out nine assists and grabbed five rebounds. Lance Thomas was 3/6, so that isn’t bad. These guys also had veterans on their team that could score, and it was their first action in front of fans at the Yum! Center. I think those nerves will go away and they will shoot the ball better at the next scrimmage.
-Freshmen also struggle on defense. That isn’t a big surprise, but obviously you want it to be improved. There were multiple times where youngsters got beat off the dribble and just watched their man go by, hoping that their teammates were there to help at the rim. Or when an opponent was driving to the lane, a couple of them would watch the ball and not be rotating to their help spot. Those are the mistakes that can get you taken out of the game, regardless of who is coaching. But I will point out that when I got to sit courtside, Darius Perry was very talkative on the defensive end. Anytime there was a screen, he was in constant communication with his teammate on if they were switching or if he would get through the pick. That was good to see, and something I wouldn’t have noticed if I weren’t so close at the time.
-Steven Enoch is a big body that will help the Cards next season. He scored 13 points in 17 minutes and grabbed six rebounds. He is supposed to sit out this season, but that is an NCAA rule. I say we play him from game one. What are they going to do? As long as we say that regular students were also given the opportunity to play, we should be fine. Right? Suit him up Coach Padgett.
-Team chemistry looks good. A team mixed with so many veterans and young guys can often be problematic. These veterans aren’t the type to let that be a problem. Deng Adel would help the young guys during dead balls and talk them through their mistakes. And I don’t think Q or Anas are exactly bullies that will intimidate the freshmen and cause a divide in the team. We have seen that recently, and we won’t see it this season.
-Final thoughts: This team should be able to score a lot of points. Deng Adel and V.J. King can probably go for 25 points on any given night. We know that Quentin can fill it up on certain nights. If Ray Spalding finally gets it clicking, it takes this team to another level. If the veterans are having an off night, Jordan Nwora can come in and score. He will make the most of his minutes and get some shots up, anyway. The fans will probably fall in love with him quickly. The freshmen will make mistakes, but hopefully they will be allowed to play through those mistakes, unlike in the past. If they can, the talent is there for this team to compete and make noise in the ACC. Overall, it was just great to be back in the KFC Yum! Center and watch actual basketball. Looking forward to more of that.