Opening Night Observations II: The Team

It is difficult, and more than a bit unfair, to judge a team after one exhibition. Especially when it’s played less than two weeks after the start of practice.

But, hey, I’ve never let such reasoning get in the way before. And it’s too late to stop now.

As ragged as the performance was, it didn’t disappoint. This will be a fascinating Louisville Cardinal team to watch develop — or not — perhaps the most interesting of the Pitino era at Louisville.

One guy’s opinion is that the maturation of Peyton Siva into his inevitable role as team leader is the key to the season. Also whether the titular leaders — Smith and Sosa — allow him to fill the role.

As solid as last night’s starting five might eventually be, there are no real play makers among them. Jerry Smith needs to be wide open to get off his shot since he needs an extra beat to wind up. Swopshire is also earnest but a half step slow in his moves and reactions. Reggie Delk was intimidated by TWill last season to the point where he was of no help to the team. I can’t fathom how he can just turn bravado back on this year. Samardo Samuels continues to want to impersonate Cliff Rozier. It’s like tossing the ball in a black hole when it goes into the pivot. He passed it back out only once last night, resulting in a three by Sosa. And Edgar Sosa appears destined to be the vexation he has been every time he’s taken the court with the exception of the Texas A & M game and his winning bucket against the Cats last season. He certainly won’t be a detriment to the team, but it’s gonna be a roller coaster ride.

Now for the rest of the guys. Peyton Siva is U of L’s best pure point guard, well, maybe ever. But certainly the best since Phil Bond. And that was a long time ago. Preston Knowles will continue to bring great energy off the bench. If ever there was a guy who needs to open the game on the pine, then come in for impact, it’s Knowles. Like I wrote yesterday, before the game, we’re going to love Kyle Kuric more and more with each passing game. Terrence Jennings remains an enigma. If he ever decides it’s time to dedicate himself, he’ll be one of the Cards’ best big men ever. If not, he’s Kendall Dartez. Buckles will be a keeper. Whether it happens this year or not remains to be seen. I also like George Goode, but my sense is The Rick will never give him a legit chance. (And he is, after all, the coach.) Mike Marra’s also a keeper. Van Treese?????????

My early assessment is that shooting will have to carry the club. Plus they will have to be even more relentless on D than last season. That Siva and at least one other guy will have to prove they can be a catalyst on O. The team is short. But it’s deep. While Siva may be the only NBAish player on the team, the bottom of the bench isn’t much of a drop off. For example, Goode is a way better than average third string center.

Like I said it’s way early. Lots of cob webs on display last night. If they were playing Bellarmine, it would have been an L for the Cards. (Which it may very well be next Wednesday in a game I’m really looking forward to seeing.) Somewhere along the way, during the 492d free throw maybe, I wrote: “Anything over Final 32 will be gravy.”

But I also think it’s a team that gets in the Dance as maybe a 7 or 8 seed, and, bingo, they’re in the Sweet Sixteen. We’ll see.

One more thing, I loved seeing Ralph Willard on the bench. For several years I’ve thought U of L would benefit from an old head that The Rick would listen to. His buddy is a perfect complement.

– Seedy K


  1. fred
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It’s no fun, but I agree with just about everything you wrote, especially about Ralph Willard. Rick needs…Rick has needed… “an old head” on the bench for years to calm him down when he needs it and pick him up when he needs it. Peyton Siva and Kyle Kuric will be starts. Shooting will have to be the key because I don’t see us playing a bump and bang Big East kind of game. If we can run, shoot and defend with quickness, we wil be fun to watch. When Edgard came down on that three-on-one and would not give up the ball, it reenforced that a) the kid hasn’t learned a thing and b) we need (and now have) a true point guard.

  2. cbcard
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    How much is Willard NOT a yes man? Unless he was wearing a black tie with that black shirt he was tieless. When have you ever seen a Pitino assistant not dressed as the Rick is dressed.

    And if the 3 on 1 Fred refers to is the play I remember the spacing stunk. The two guys coming down on the wings weren’t on the wings but instead were both on the side stripe of the lane no more than seven feet apart.That way the one defender was able to play against all three Cards making it more the fault of the other players than Sosa.

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