That the Cards fell behind early didn’t surprise me. That they manned up and made a feisty comeback was heartening. It was a loss much easier to digest than those early Ls of recent seasons.
Having said that (to borrow a phrase from Jerry Seinfeld), I do think there are reasons for concern:
1) Play in the pivot generally. Play of Samardo Samuels specifically.
I’d forgotten how the Runnin’ Rebs won last year at Freedom Hall. Oscar Bellfield drove past SS the whole game. The then heralded frosh not only caught a cold, but needed chiropractic readjustment to get his head and neck realigned. Bellfield did what he’d been doing the entire tilt for the game winner.
Yesterday afternoon it was deja vu all over again.
Samuels likes to score (and puff out his chest and woof to the crowd afterward), but seeing the open man on the perimeter does not come easy. Neither does shifty footwork. Nor rebounding. Truth is Samuels has no more hops than I do. And I’ve never been known for my ability to elevate.
Terrence Jennings continues to mystify. He appears lost on the court, and often without focus.
The twosome only got 7 boards between them yesterday. Which brings to mind one word: Unacceptable.
I’m inclined to suggest that George Goode be given more time in the pivot. Ditto Van Treese. Anecdotal game evidence indicates they might become factors. Then again, I’ve never coached a national champion and I’m not at practice every day. I have a sense that The Rick has given up on Goode, though I don’t know if that’s really the case. And that he’s bringing Van Treese along slowly. Which makes sense.
Bottom line is that Louisville ain’t goin’ nowhere if the play in the middle doesn’t improve significantly.
2) Preston Knowles thumb. I’m wondering if he doesn’t have some chronic ailment that needs significant rest, and will hamper him throughout the season if he doesn’t treat it right. He is the team’s best player at this juncture.
3) Edgar Sosa’s bad habits. There is no doubt he is playing better than he has previously. He wears the leadership mantle well. But he still doesn’t see the whole court when he drives to the basket, getting into trouble more often than not when he does.
4) Jared Swopshire . . . use both hands.
There are also reasons to smile:
1) Rakeem Buckles shall be The Beast. How much farther along is he at this stage than, say, E5? A lot. He is still raw, but the kid plays hard, loves the rough and tumble underneath and has a great attitude.
2) Reggie Delk and Kyle Kuric are steadying influences. They’ll have some big games, and appear like they’ll not hurt the Cards when on the court.
3) Mike Marra is going to be a far more complete player than we ever imagined. I can see some moments in the upcoming seasons, when he cans several treys at an important juncture, and we go, “Oh yeah, we recruited him as a shooter, I forgot about that.” He’s long, plays D, jumps through the roof. His shot will come.
4) Peyton Siva. He’s the most talented player on the team. He will calm down soon and become a force. A lineup with him at point and a combo of Smith, Knowles and Sosa at the 2 will be tough for foes to handle. As long as we get some output from the pivot.
– Seedy K