Updated 11/08 6:00 AM
About midpoint of the second half, right around the time Bellarmine coach Scotty Davenport put on display his oft appearing sideline immaturity by getting a T called after berating a ref, when Deng Adel clanked two of four free throw opportunities just seconds after making a stirring reverse slam on a drive from the right corner (one of the few times he drove the ball without losing his dribble), right about then, when U of L's mediocrity had been on display as if in tape loop for 30 minutes of action, I jotted this down in my game notes:
(Yes, I printed it, no cursive, all caps, exclamation point.)
It wasn't just that Adel proved for all his incredible athletic prowess that he still can't be trusted dribbling the rock. He, committed 5 turnovers. Or that VJ King's decision making is still suspect. He also committed 5 turnovers. Or that their team high 21 and 14 points respectively seemed, I dunno, less that satisfying.
It wasn't simply that U of L gave it away 20 times, and, not working the ball crisply on offense like the Wesleyan tilt, only had 11 assists. Or that the Cards only had three blocks and three steals against its smaller, lesser crosstown DII foe. Or that the slower but more savvy Knights had at least ten wide open layups on the night.
Or that Ray Spalding, after a more fiery effort last week, resorted to last season's passivity.
Or that, so underwhelming was Louisville, David Padgett still had starters in until the end.
Or that the question Cardinal fans shall be asking themselves and each other all season popped into my head and likely yours several times during the grind, and in my case, again in the car on the way home: What would this team be like if Rick Pitino were still around?
So, yes, it's early. The regular season doesn't even open until Sunday afternoon. Padgett’s still finding his way. And my faltering memory tells me that complaining about Louisville's unsatisfactory performances in these exhis is an annual ritual.
Still there's a nagging feeling that something's out of kilter.
Maybe it's that there's no Hall of Famer on the sideline, for the first time at U of L since 1971. Though that could certainly change. Neither Denny or The Rick were HoF when they first took the reigns here. But both had been head coaches before.
Yeah, I know I'm wandering around in the wilderness aimlessly. I'm just as curious about my destination with this as you are.
It's simply that, I suppose, after the Bellarmine game, I'm more worried about the Cardinals' prospects than I was a week ago.
The visions of all those wide open lay ups by the Panthers and the Knights haunt me. If the Cards don't tighten up, Grayson Allen might set a Blue Devil scoring record when the Cards visit Cameron Indoor in February.
* * * * *
I liked Jordan Nwora's 8 point, 8 rebound, no turnover first half. And Q's 3/1 assist/turnover ratio. And Anas Mahmoud's 11 boards.
I acknowledge I'm always the pessimist.
I pray that these early missteps are but growing pains for a team still turned sidewise by events beyond their control, adapting to a new coach, who is on a steep learning curve himself.
We'll find out soon enough.
We start keeping score on Sunday afternoon when George Mason comes a callin'.
-- Seedy K