The International Debutante Ball, a coming out party for the daughters of the global hoity toity, is traditionally held in even numbered years in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria on the 29th of December.
Given this is an odd numbered year, thus no such affair, it was incumbent that there be some such significant debut this holiday season. Just to keep the world in balance, you understand, to maintain the clear delineation between the haves and have nots.
Presenting to the World of Hoops, Raymond Spalding, lover of “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” the Bible, his mom’s baked cookies, Kevin Hart, blocked shots and deflections.
Your world awaits.
The rookie’s stats from yesterday’s 89-61 torching of North Florida tell some of the story. But not all of it.
18 points on 8/10 shooting, 2/2 from the line. 12 boards, four of which were offensive. 4 steals. 2 blocks officially, though it sure appeared to be more.1
The Trinity grad, who thankfully for Cardinal fans didn’t fall prey to the late recruiting attack by Coach K and Duke, was also credited with 12 of U of L’s 37 deflections, a stat much revered by Rick Pitino.
What more impressed me was Spalding’s incredible hands, foot work, ability to get up and down the hardwood and court awareness.
I must admit to being totally surprised by the completeness of Spalding’s game.
I saw him play last summer, in the Saturday morning semi-final of a national AAU tourney, in going to seed Freedom Hall. Very disappointing. He didn’t run the floor. He didn’t score until late in the 3d quarter. And was generally MIA.
Only in retrospect did I realize that the toll of playing in the neighborhood of 141 games in the previous month had probably worn him down.
I’m pleased as punch to apologize for my initial, total misread of Ray Spalding’s talent.
As the song goes, “He’s only just begun.”
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The advanced hype about North Florida’s long range shooting prowess proved to be fact.
The Osprey’s were draining 48% of their treys coming into the game, and did so again in the Yum!. But they were averaging 17 made triples/ game. Yesterday, U of L’s tightened up D held the visitors to only 23 bomb launches, 11 of which found net.
In the 2d half, when the visitors learned that being in shape for the Atlantic Sun, or even the Not So Fighting Illini, is not the same as running with an ACC club, they only were able to get off 7 threes, making but two.2
Meanwhile, the Cards ran past the heavy-legged, defensively-bereft Floridians, netting 62% of their FG attempts after intermission, 21/34.
Louisville’s 31 rebound advantage, 53-22, while certainly eye opening, is somewhat misleading. While ospreys in their natural habitat are fish-eating birds of prey, raptors, the hardwood Ospreys proved timid near the glass. They hardly ever contested on the boards.
NF PG Dallas Moore came into the game with a stunning assist/ turnover ratio. 25 of the former, against only one miscue. Though he tallied 21, he had only 2 assists, and the same number of turnovers, double his previous three games combined.
My point: U of L’s defense, while still a work in progress, was dang good. Especially in the second half.
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Spalding was far from the only Cardinal who stood out. Every one who played, contributed. I mean, really, Louisville only turned it over 8 times, against North Florida’s token matador D.
I’m not going to run through the lot. You can read the box score yourselves.
Okay, I will mention Quentin Snider, who started yesterday because of Deng Adel’s injury. Again he proved he’s the ringmaster. All the hoohah about who starts meaning nothing aside, Q should be on the hardwood at tip.
It is a sign of how Louisville’s fans have been lured into acceptance of the Cards’ indecent home schedule that there are such huzzahs after yesterday’s victory.
Other than its shooting, the Ospreys are but a somewhat better than average mid-major. That is, the type of team that Louisville, with its upper echelon status, and yearly national title aspirations, should have battered. Which they did.
* * * * *
The Rick called yesterday’s performance “devastating.”
Hopeful as I am about the upside of this lovable Cardinal team, I must demur for the time being. I’m not ready yet to come with the hyperbole about how underrated this team is, its potential, etc, etc. So far U of L has just battered three schools it should have battered.
There’s one more walkover, Tuesday in the Yum! against St. Francis (Brooklyn),3 then the Cards really get tested.
Louisville travels — to Brooklyn — to play St. Louis, followed by a journey to East Lansing to battle Tom Izzo’s always tough Michigan State Spartans, as part of the ACC/ Big Ten challenge.
So far, so good.
— Seedy K