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Seedy K’s GameCap: Southern

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Before we get to U of L’s 72-60 victory over Sean Woods’ Jaguars, some context.

I love University of Louisville basketball.

As if you readers didn’t already know that.

I LOVE U of L hoops.

The Cardinals are, as I’ve said many times before, the great love of my life. Have been since I was 7 years old.

Opening night is my favorite of the year.

As my pal Smart Guy says, “I just love being in the gym.”

Which I was Tuesday for a game that counted for the first time since season before last. Even though the late tip meant I wouldn’t hit the pillow until way after my increasingly early bedtime.

Like SG and Doc and XBird, I’m a lifer. It’s what we do.

Through rain, sleet or snow. And it was a snow game I thought of when observing the “crowd” of, oh, 6,000 or so in the Yum!. That game was in the 90s, during a storm. I remember fishtailing circuitously through snow drifts in my pal Doug’s Caddy to get to Freedom Hall.

Small gathering that night. But it was the hearty who were there. Loud and raucous.

Last night, those in attendance were loud. Raucous at times to spur the Cards on. Supportive. It was way cool.

This gang needed it and deserved it.

* * * * *

I’ve already gotten several woeful missives from fellow fans.

How the Cards should have easily handled KenPom319 Southern.

My response to all.

Perspective is required.

Opening Night. Head coach sidelined until December. Lots of new faces. Totally new system.

Ask UVa fans how they’re feeling this morning. The Cavaliers lost to Navy. At home. (Oh yeah, the Middies come visiting The Ville on Monday.)

Ask Ohio State fans how they’re feeling this morning. The Buckeyes needed a buzzer shot to best the Zips of Akron.

Perspective.

I’ve said it before, and surely will repeat it again, given my default obsessiveness. This team won’t jell until January, mid January probably.

So, patience is required, along with perspective.

* * * * *

Sydney Curry started instead of Malik Williams.

Williams’ contribution this campaign is one of the interesting question marks. His mature presence and leadership are important. But how much will he be able to contribute on the hardwood game in and game out?

In 24 minutes of action, he only scored 6. But, you know, he did grab 13 boards.

* * * * *

I loved Sam Williamson’s game. I love that he seems totally comfortable in the Frank Ramsey Sixth Man role.

I especially enjoyed a moment of his around the 7:30 mark of the 1st. He skied to secure a missed Williams’ FT, then hit an ll Cool J along the baseline. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

Double ll led the Cards with 14 rebounds. Four of which were offensive. Officially, that is. He was shortchanged an ORB soon after after he entered the battle.

He also scored 14 on 6/12 shooting. Was focused and hustling every second on the court.

* * * * *

I saw the diagonal of Matt Cross’s finger injury from pretty close.

When a fellow scribe wanted to show a photo at halftime, I demurred.

But the dislocation was taped up. The Miami transfer returned in the 2d to cheers. Then proceeded to net 4/5 from the field, snare four caroms, and generally kickstart Louisville.

In his first real game in a U of L uni, he proved himself a gamer, that he’ll be a significant contributor.

* * * * *

Dre Davis played only 12 minutes, four in the 1st.

Which brings me to this. How we’re not going to know what rotations work or not until Chris Mack is back in the captain’s chair.

With all due respect to Mike Pegues — and Ross McMains who was doing just as much coaching — the substitution patterns seemed a bit off.

Five players were on the hardwood for 25+ minutes. Three starters played less than 15. Including Jae’Lyn Withers, who got in foul trouble early on.

* * * * *

Credit to overmanned Southern. They gave no quarter.

There’s plenty for this U of L team to work on. Fortunately, it was Just The First Game.

After missing a shot on its first possession after halftime, U of L committed turnovers the next five times it had the rock. Ouch.

D needs tightening up.

The Cardinals were only 11/19 at the line.

Next up: Furman Frank Selvys, 118-66 winners in their opener over something called North Greenville.

— c d kaplan