First off, hats off to Illinois State, who played tremendous basketball for 40 minutes, certainly well enough to win. I'll remember their balanced attack when filling out my bracket come March. For Cardinals fans, the biggest positive to take away is that this is exactly the type of game UofL loses in past seasons. It was the perfect recipe for the proverbial early season "bad loss". To date, however, this team finds ways to win. It has the horses to eek out victory even when things go poorly.
A few other instant reactions to the win that left the fanbase with thinner fingernails...
* Holy moly, am I glad that Stephan Van Treese didn't transfer. I have a feeling we're going to be hearing that refrain more than a few times moving forward. When you do the kind of things SVT does, it's hard to describe him as being "in the zone". But with the skills he brings to the table, he's in the zone with those right now.
* I wasn't in attendance, but that crowd sounded amazing. Kudos Cards fans, that was a homecourt advantage. When you move into a new building, I think it takes time for fans to find their comfort zone. It's more than just butts in the seats, there's an organic quality, a pregame, in-game, and post-game ritual that has to be etched for the crowd to truly dial in. Sounds like the Cardinal faithful are finding that groove in the Kayefseum.
* That was the improved jumper from Peyton Siva we have been waiting to see. And as is always the case with Siva, it has as much to do with confidence as it does with form and technique. This Siva, senior Siva, wants to shoot the ball in big moments. Like we've always said, Siva doesn't have to be deadeye from the perimeter, he just needs to be competent to keep defenses from playing off him and taking away the other things he does so well.
* UK lost, which is always nice. Stunningly, it's entirely possible the Cards won't be facing a ranked opponent when we host on December 29. One more note on the Wildcats, I've been drawing parallels between Samardo Samuels and Nerlens Noel, two #1 ranked big men out of high school that, thus far, have fallen short of "surefire" status in college. It's amazing to me how different they are. Noel has tremendous quickness and athleticism, can probably touch the top of the backboard, but has zero touch around the rim, and while he is a great shotblocker, struggles with defensive footwork and can be bullied when a body is on him. Samuels was the polar opposite, the yin to Noel's yang. He struggled just to dunk the ball, but you could throw him an egg in the post and he could catch and score without breaking it such were his hands and touch around the rim.
Now Gorgui, on the other hand, probably isn't the athlete Noel is or have the offensive moves Samardo had. But he's without a doubt the best center of the three. Get better, big fella.
* That was a foul on the final play. The Redbirds should be rightfully pissed they didn't get a chance to send the game to OT at the line.
* Speaking of the pesky 15-footer, I wrote before the season started that Chane's free throw percentage is one of the hidden keys to the kingdom. Behanan is so physical he is going to get contact, but he's a couple inches undersized and will struggle to finish. Chane played with great heart and hustle today, and trust me, he's poised for a breakout game soon. But his abysmal outing from the stripe is not a good sign.
* It's past time for Wayne Blackshear to step to the plate. The Cards are getting above average play from the guard combo of Russ and Siva and adequate play in the paint. We're missing a slasher, and Wayne is lacking in that department. He needs to get that size and strength moving towards the rim.
* Russ provides so much more than his stats indicate. When his team is in the "danger zone", the 8-12 point deficit when the door could really come crashing down, Russ keeps his poise better than anyone, puts the team on his back, and keeps the margin manageable until the rest of his teammates settle down. He's a completely fearless basketball player; it's easy to love guys like that.
* It's December and it's Rick Pitino. So don't get bogged down by the strange lineups, some scoring droughts, some choppiness. Look for individual improvement, for defense, and for desire. We have the ingredients, but Chef Pitino is still in the assembly stage for this feast. It could be his masterpiece.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
- ▼ Nov 25 - Dec 2 (4)
- ► 2011 (758)
- ► 2010 (751)
- ► 2009 (614)
About the Bloggers
Mr. Red is also known as Timothy Johnstone. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
Mr. Black is also known as Christopher Cunningham. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
CliffySmalls is also known as Cliff Elliott. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.