The last time U of L hitched a ride on one of these busman’s holidays, an overachieving squad slipped into the Final Four six months later.
That said, nine games in six days against the same foes can turn into a grind. The Cardinals and the Puerto Ricans, already familiar with each other from The Rick’s Parris Island preparation at the Yum! practice facility were already testy with each other during last night’s opening double dip. There was lots of bumpety bump.
Will the “best attitude of any squad I’ve ever coached” survive the rigors of vacation?
Will the Cards make it to Wally World?
It was a rocky start. The A Team lost to the Puerto Rico MNT, 81-89. The B Team lost to the Puerto Rican Juniors, 88-94.
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My hunch is that fans paying attention will be slobbering all over 5th year newcomer Damion Lee, the transfer from that academic school Drexel.
Pitino was not kidding when, earlier in the week, he said Lee “likes to put it up.”
Lee scored 36, was 11/18 from the field, canning half of his ten treys. The kid loves to tally.
I was a bit taken aback however by his +/- number on the stat sheet. He was worst on the team at -14.1
How well the transfer fits in the Cards scheme will have significant effect on U of L’s ultimate success in the season to come. But he shall be relied upon to score.
Chinanu Onuaku does seem legitimately improved. And, more important, more engaged. He scored 13, and added 10 boards. Mangok Mathiang snared 8 caroms, but still lacks scoring acumen.
Other than that, what I observed was a lot of rust from the A team.
Another positive was free throw shooting, a thorn in U of L’s side the last couple of seasons. The Cards hit 24/33 (73%). Lee was 9/9. In fact, of the eight players that went to the line, five made all their charity tosses.
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When I first started paying attention to Louisville basketball in the early 50s, Ed Kallay was the radio play by play announcer.2
In addition to his duties calling Louisville games, Kallay was ringmaster in the Magic Forest, and with sidekicks Sylvester the Duck and Tom Foolery, ruled noontime “Funny Flickers.” He also called the weekly televised amateur boxing show, “Tomorrow’s Champions.”
When a couple of contestants would be flailing away at each other with gusto, but little technique, Kallay would say, “Not a lot of science out there.”
Which would have been an apt description of the B Team’s effort last night against the PR Juniors.
At one juncture early on, the Cards newcomers+ were down 20. They did show grit, fighting throughout, and pulling as close as a deuce late in the loss.
Ray Spalding displayed a defensive presence. Matz Stockman did little to dissuade me from thinking he’ll never be much as a Cardinal but an afterthought.3
But the biggest pleasant surprise of all on the night was Jay Henderson.
Henderson is a 6-4 walkon guard from Orlando. He played for two state champions in Florida, then redshirted at St. John’s last season as a non-scholly baller, after, as it has been reported, turning down legit offers from Florida State, Stanford, Purdue, Mississippi State, Dayton and Seton Hall. When Chris Mullen failed to give him a scholarship, Henderson strolled to Louisville.
It’s only one game, but the kid looks to be a keeper.
He went 7/10 from the field, including 2/5 from long range, grabbed five rebounds, and was solid on the floor. And, in an eight point L, garnered a +11 +/-.
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I would be remiss were I not to mention how amateurish was the streaming telecast.
Whatever organization is responsible — College Sports Television, I believe — has got some serious work to do.
The audio was never right. They used the radio feed with Paul Rogers and Jody Demling. It was only periodically synched with the visual. When there wasn’t a serious echo, there was a double track with a several second delay.
It was cacophony.
During the second game, the video stream froze several times, requiring me to refresh the feed. And I’ve got a legit 50 meg connection.
The score graphic was always 10 to 15 seconds behind, and did not even include the game clock.
Also, a caveat to those who paid the $10+ to watch Louisville’s games in PR: What you agreed to is a automatically renewing monthly contract. So, if you don’t cancel before the end of the month, your credit card will be charged monthly until you do.
— Seedy K