I didn’t take long Friday evening for yet another confirmation that it’s a new dawn for Cardinal hoops.
The first vision when walking into the Media Room before the game was U of L Basketball Heritage on display. A trio of guys from the glory days chatting each other up.
Roger Burkman. The vision of that game winning jumper against #11 Florida State in the ’77 Metro Tourney title game always brings a smile.
Jerry Jones. The loyal, solid second banana during the halcyon days of U of L hoops.
And Hall of Fame, two-time NCAA champion mentor, cool-handed Denny Crum.
His name’s on the court, his visage is in the rafters, he is beloved by the faithful and has been close to the university, but, to the best of my memory, I’ve never seen Denny in the Media Room since his retirement.
Let’s just say his relationship with Tom Jurich and his successor has been . . . uneasy . . . and I’ll leave it at that.
Then there’s the moment you noticed if you were among the 8381 in the house, or you’ve probably read about already before getting to this take on the proceedings. With about 11:00 to play in the first half, current coach David Padgett left his seat courtside, and moved to the endline next to Crum.
An ovation ensued when a shot of the two talking appeared on the video board.
Whether Padgett is here for only a season, or, proving his worth, he’s around longer, the old sheriff — his badge tarnished, home for sale or already sold (according to one scribe) — has left Dodge City.
* * * * *
These soon after the commencement of practice intrasquad affairs are most always sloppy.
Too much 1 on 1.
Too many turnovers.
Too many tumbles.
But they provide affirmation that, notwithstanding storm clouds menacing off the court, basketball is back on the hardwood. It’s a grand thing.
Until he went down after eight minutes of action and didn’t return after an injury to his rib or hip or side — apparently, hopefully not serious — Ryan McMahon looked like he’ll be a significant contributor from here on out.
Two of the 4 assists he tallied in that short stint were lovely. The first was a behind the back feed to Deng Adel for a score on a 2 on 1 break. The second was a laser skip delivery to Adel again in the corner for a trey. The Floridian was also 2/2 from beyond the arc.
As for Adel, it appeared obvious he’s ready to take charge. His ballhandling, a major weakness in his game before, is much improved. There’s still room for more correction. He turned it over 6 times. Most because he tried to hard with the rock in his hands.
VJ King also seems ready for the spotlight. He also turned it over a lot. Nine times to be exact, and but a single assist. He also tried too hard with the rock in his hands.
Like I mentioned above, too much 1 on 1, and those two were the major culprits. One hopes, assumes the duo’s NBA aspirations won’t get in the way of the duo’s commitment to being team oriented.
The rumors that Ray Spalding is significantly more assertive were confirmed to be true. Unlike the past, he was always in the mix, whether on the boards or on the break.
What I liked about rookie guard Darius Perry is that he, as we are wont to say, let the game come to him. A single assist before the half. 8 in the second stanza.
Dwayne Sutton will sooner rather than later become a fan fave. The guy’s engine always runs red line. He’s going to stir things up, be a great catalyst off the bench.
Of the other newcomers, Jordan Nwora would seem most likely to contribute this season.
What I feel compelled to ask about UConn transfer Stephen Enoch is this. Is there any way to get him eligible this season? The kid’s a baller.
* * * * *
Loved when the Pep Band played “Saber Dance” during a break in the action.
Is it my imagination or does the squad of Ladybirds increase in numbers every year? It looked like there were fifty of them.
Maybe. Maybe not.
What I do know is that short haired gals need not apply.
— Seedy K