07 March 2010

Kyle Kuric Dunk Video

It felt good to be in the Hall again, didn’t it?

This year’s gift of basketball was unwrapped last night, and the Cards began their final season in Freedom Hall with a 80-68 win over nearby Georgetown College.

I really like openers with perennially tough and feisty in-state rivals like G-Town –pre-season ranked #7 NAIA and with several Louisville and Kentucky guys on their roster. You know it’s one of the games of their year–in certain cases, their lives and future basketball memories.

Hell, at the half, Georgetown led 35-31 , had rebounded us even ( though 2″ shorter per man), and looked a step quicker and more disciplined than the Cards on offense. They wanted this game.

In the second half, U of L finally caught them with a wave of defensive intensity by Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles, and then gunned it in the last 6 minutes to pull away by the deceivingly wide final margin when Georgetown’s legs finally gave out.

Let truly great, good ‘ol boy head coach Happy Osbourne of Georgetown tell you a thing or two:

” I can’t tell you how much this means to our school. Our whole campus was excited. Our whole town was excited. I can’t thank Coach Pitino enough.

You guys come here all the time. It may just be another place to you guys. (Louisville natives) Crutcher and Hamilton got a chance to come here and start and play in front of their hometown. You know it’s a thrill for those guys.”

Some other insights from Happy that I totally agree with:

“A big key for them (U of L) is who steps up at the four spot. Swopshire, Buckles and those guys have got to do it……”

“Peyton Siva is going to be a super guard for them and a great leader.”

“When Georgetown and Louisville play, it’s ugly. We’re both going to push. We’re both going to press. It’s going to be physical, but it’s going to be fun.”

Let me add that it was a very loooonnng game. 2 1/2 hours and 60 fouls long. The officials called 29 in the first half–and never let up.

As with any opener, it’s so early that you have to be reading tea leaves to reach any long-term conclusions, but…

Pluses I saw clearly at court-side:

Jared Swopshire holds his own in the paint much better, and has been hitting the weights obviously. He may still be over-classed against better players than Georgetown’s–but I think he has a huge upside.

As obviously does Kyle Kuric , who Pitino raved about in the post-game presser, and who was in constant motion with 15 points and a big 7 bounds.

Peyton Siva will be one of the great ones at U of L– at some point, perhaps even this year. Every time he entered the game, he amped both the offense with his speed and assists, and the defense with swarming in -your-face pressure . His leadership kept Louisville close in the first half, and helped burst the game open in the second, with a defensive assist from Preston Knowles.

Samardo Samuels is still solid– he can still score a bunch and can also rebound if he wants to–like he did in the second half.

Some concerns:

Terrence Jennings does not appear to have improved at all–and he showed that in the few minutes he was in. But again–his upside is huge. He will be a key this season, for good or for bad…

Our rebounding still did not impress me, any more than last year. Samardo still does not dominate here. Neither did TJ. Georgetown rebounded us even in the first half. As Happy noted, the 4 spot will be a key, and Swop and Kuric appear to be the leading candidates so far.

Our perimeter shooting is still inconsistent. Pitino stated it was the opening night jitters and that this is one of his best shooting teams. But, Coach has said this same thing the last few years, and yet we have been inconsistent. I’ll have to see the proof on that one.

Overall, I think this team will be fun to watch, but will lose it’s share of games early–and maybe late too. I don’t see Elite 8’s or final 4’s this year–but I see a ton of potential that will take us potentially to a Sweet 16 this yr–and then really do some damage the following years, if Samardo and TJ come back, and we get the monster class of recruits expected these next few years.

Peyton and Preston will be fun to watch on defense.

Peyton will be fun to watch–period.

Some final thoughts from Coach Pitino:

“I think our offense is going to be very good. Last year at this time, we probably had seven or eight sets in, right now we have two. We’ve just got to go very slowly with these guys because they’re so young.”

“On Peyton Siva: He’s been turning the ball over too much. But he plays so hard, he’s so aggressive, you’ve got to give him his due. He’s trying to make plays, if you start harnessing him, he’s got to learn from his mistakes. I have no problem with him. He’s going to be a great player some day, one of the best I’ve ever coached at that position.

No comments:

Post a Comment