Everyone expected Rick Pitino’s Card to roll through the 3-day jamboree known as the Hall of Fame Showcase. It was great experience for the team and gave them a chance to develop some much-needed chemistry on a young team. East Tennesse St. , Morgan St. and Appalachian St. came to town and took their beating. here are a few thoughts from the weekend that was Louisville basketball…
– Does it bother you that all 3 teams the Cards faced have the word “State” in their respective handles, yet none can actually claim to be a part of the union? Maybe I’m just picking nits, but it seems like “Morgan University” or “Appalachian U” would do just fine. Why add “State” to the name? Do they get more state funding? These are the type of things I think about sometimes. Did i mention I’m single?
– Out of anyone on the team, I think Jared Swopshire has improved the most over the offseason. As opposed to his tentative play last year, Swop looks like he belongs out there this year. he is making confident movements with and without the ball, getting in great position on the gals, and picking his spots very well on offense. The soph from the STL looks to have gained a significant amount of weight (I’d say 15-20 lbs) which is essential if Pitino is going to count on him to play major minutes at the 4-spot – especially come conference play. Swop has a great advantage of being able to handle the ball like a guard and also bang down low in necessary. Only a total of 22 points in the 3-game stretch, but he complimented that with only one turnover and 20 rebounds.
– Is it so foolish to think that Edgar Sosa has finally turned the corner when it comes to attitude and decision-making? Sos has played great in the first 4 games – averaging 13 pts and committing only 6 total turnovers. I can remember games where he had 6 TOs in one game, yet alone 4 combined (2:1 AST/TO ratio this year). However, when you take the pulse of Cardinal Nation, it seems like people are still waiting for the assumed patented snafu. I’m not saying Edgar is going to have a flawless season, but it is evident so far that he has a new-found attitude and has accepted his role as a team-leader. He is taking uncontested shots, using excellent judgement with the ball, and keeping his team focused. The days of the maniacal-lowering-the-shoulder-and-driving-to-the-hoop seem to be a thing of the past as well. As are the days of cringing and waiting for the worst when he has the ball. Sosa’s maturity is going to surprised a lot of people this year – and when i say “a lot”, I mean everyone.
– The Big Jamaican Samardo Samuels needs to toughen up like I’ve said before – it’s like stating the obvious. be that as it may, he did a great job getting to the line this weekend – hitting 23-35 for a measly 65%. Hey, at least he’s throwing his body around. Right? It could have been a product of going up against guys that were considerably smaller. THis has to continue to be a worry moving forward. There is no doubting Samardo’s talent (18 ppg in HoF Classic), but like last year with Earl Clark, you just know he could be putting it to better use. This team will go as The Big Jamaican goes. It will get pretty rough inside come UK/Big East time and without Samuels becoming that inside presence he is capable of being the Cards could struggle. Samuels is the best player on the team, yet the most frustrating as well.
– I wouldn’t be too worried about the play – or lack there of – by frosh Peyton Siva this weekend. As mature and polished as he seems at times, he is still a freshman and will have growing pains. If Sosa continues to play the way he has, Siva will be more of a spark plug on both offense and defense when he comes in for his 15-18 minutes a game. people who suspected he would take over the starting PG spot buy mid-season need to take a step back. Regardless, you can’t put a price on having 4 active guards that are pretty much interchangeable. They are like picking
Swop Getting Big!
between Hef’s girlfriends, whichever one you chose will not disappoint.
– This year’s squad seems to have bought into the whole “team” concept. Not once can I remember someone making a selfish play. They all seem to compliment each other exceptionally well with everyone filling a specific role. Without a hands-down go-to guy, that looks to be the path to success. A bunch of selfless guys who enjoy the assist, enjoy pressing and playing hard. I found that sometimes last year, the team looked to E5 and T-Will almost too much which meant that if either or both had an off night, the team was almost destined to lose. This year is different. If Sosa has a bad game, Siva could step up. Same with Samardo and Terrence Jennings. Unlike last year, I don’t think one particular guy struggling will doom this team – besides possibly Samuels. It will be interesting to see who rises to the occasion in which game.
– I have been debating the “go-to-guy” scenario with nearly every dedicated Card fan I have encountered : If the clock is running down and/or the game is one the line, who is taking the big shot for Louisville. I say just by what has happened so far this season it has to be Sosa. He has proven he can step-up big in big games (just ask any UK fan) and has been the obvious leader. Sosa has come a long way since those free throws in Rupp his freshman year. And you know well that if he brings the ball up the floor in a must-score situation, he isn’t going to give the ball up. Only now I won’t be screaming at my TV. I know Jerry Smith has made the big one before, but my second choice would be Preston Knowles. the confidence that PK exudes while shooting the ball is enough to show me he would be up to the challenge. the over 40% career 3pt average is also a plus.