Matz Stockman, of course.
I remain of the opinion that the Norwegian, whom I’m advised was admonished by his coach during his last court time to communicate with his teammates “in English not Norwegian,” will never be a significant factor for the Cards.
But, he’s a fan favorite. A likeable kid, who is showing a modicum of improvement, “by far, the most improved player on the team” according to The Rick. So, when, in only five minutes of action, he’s 2/2 from the field, 2/2 from the line with 2 boards, one off each glass, notice must be taken.
If Stockman . . . if . . . actually develops into a contributor this season, the sky’s the limit for this team, which will then have a six man frontcourt rotation. Five will do.
Ah, isn’t December great? Munching on one Christmas cupcake after another, visions of sugar plum fairies, dancing across the hardwood. Remember, those cupcakes make you fat.
* * * * *
The game was, as expected, a farce.
U of L Cardinals 86, Eastern Michigan Eagles 53.
It wasn’t that close.
But there were several legitimate developments of some worth.
Louisville posted a season high 20 assists on 31 made field goals.1 Louisville also had 7 blocks and 11 steals.
Besides hitting 54% from the field, 36% from beyond the arc, the Cards were also stellar at the charity stripe. 16/21, 76%.
The Cardinals had five double figure scorers. Always a good thing. Especially when juxtaposed with last season, when there were any number of games when U of L had only that many, or often less, who scored at all. Thirty four bench points is another indicator of this team’s depth.
Beyond the numbers and the first signs Matz is emerging from his cocoon, the two rookies who took the floor, each made a serious impact.
Donovan Mitchell only scored 5 points in his extensive 28 minute stint. But he was credited with more than a third of the team’s assists, 7; grabbed 6 boards and a couple of steals. More salient, he played like a vet, seeing the court, not pressing the situation when he had the ball. Plus his Griffithian hops were on display more than ever before.
The Cards were fumblin’ and stumblin’ early, up only 9-8. Even though they were really talking on the defensive end.
Immediately upon sure handed Ray Spalding’s entrance at that score, they started to pull away. An RS dunk, an RS rebound, an RS steal, a couple of RS missed FTs and some strong D, and Louisville pulled away 21-13. When he then swished a ten foot J, I declared “I Love Ray Spalding,” jotting it down in my notes.
So I missed his steal on the ensuing Eagle inbound, but looked up in time to watch the resulting RS slam for a dozen point advantage.
I’m a strong believer in the +/- stat. Spalding was +41 on the day. Given that U of L won by 33, the team was outscored by 8 when the Trinity grad wasn’t on the court. He tallied 11, on 4/4 shooting from the field, snared 7 rebounds, blocked 3 shots, had two assists and a couple of steals.
Quentin Snider was sweet. Damion Lewis went ofer the opening half, but still lead Cardinal scorers with 16. Truth be told, all white hats played well, with the exception of Anas Mahmoud.2
* * * * *
Which gives me pause to pose this question: If Deng Adel is all that as much as his teammates and coach say he is, where does he . . . uh . . . fit in?
Alright, just being cute. You can’t have too many good players.3
What is becoming clearer with each of these blowouts (and the Michigan State L) is that this is as deep a Louisville team as, well, arguably ever.
So I ponder yet again, how illuminating it would be, if U of L actually played another team or three with even a modicum of quality before UK and the ACC? Then we’d have a better idea if the burgeoning hope that is rising in the L1C4 Nation is well founded?
So, until the 26th and beyond, what we have is faith only. Faith that this neophyte of a team, made up of a bunch of nice kids who obviously get along, will continue the climb to the top of their upside, and be molded by their HOF coach into the legit national contender it appears anecdotally they are capable of being.
Next up: The 3-8 Kennesaw State Owls, who lost 77-65 to Samford, a school the Cards nudged by 45.
— Seedy K