By Justin Renck:
As I was sitting in section 109 watching the Red-White game on Saturday afternoon, I decided that rather than tweet updates about plays and players every few minutes, I would just take mental notes and try to put them all together in one write-up. So here are just some notes about what I observed…
*Overall, I think it was the normal kind of scrimmage you can expect. There were some highlights, but there was also plenty of sloppiness. I did not leave the arena saying “That team is definitely the next National Championship team.” That does not mean I was upset with how we looked or anything, I am just cautious about making those kind of statements, especially since I have never even been alive for a UofL basketball National Title. Again, there were plenty of highlights to go along with some of the bad play.
*The player that made the biggest impression on me was freshman Montrezl Harrell. That kid is a beast, and I can definitely see how Chane Behanan has been getting a run for his money in practice. As much of a physical specimen that Behanan is, Harrell is every bit of that as well. He has the poise and confidence of a senior when he gets the ball around the rim. He never looked nervous under the lights. If Chane has to come out, there won’t be much drop off. And if Gorgui gets in foul trouble, we may just go small against some teams and play both power forwards. Watch out for Montrezl Harrell this season!
*I seem to be the only one (ok I haven’t talked to a lot of people) that was not gushing over the performance of Chane Behanan. Yes, he played 38 minutes and had 24 points and 22 rebounds–ridiculous numbers I know. And yes he had some highlight-reel dunks, one huge one that I remember in the first half over Kevin Ware. But what I noticed more than the big numbers (maybe the coach in me) were the 9 turnovers! With his back to the basket, yes he is a beast and can out muscle probably anybody. But when he puts the ball on the floor and tries to dribble too much, it very rarely works out. Many of his turnovers (maybe all) were not a result of good defense. They were just a result of poor decision-making and trying to do too much with the ball. This could also be a result of having Russ Smith as his point guard, so every time Chane touched it, he probably felt like he had to do something right then or he would not get the ball back. With Peyton Siva running the show, hopefully Chane doesn’t dribble as much. So I will take the big highlight numbers, but the turnovers can not happen like that.
*I did not see the star power from Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng, but I also don’t think they tried to take the game over, so I am not worried about that. I know what they can do. They both had decent numbers, but probably let the other guys try to take over a little bit. For us to make any kind of run this year, those 2 guys will have to be our anchors. I know they will show up when it counts, so I am not worried about them at all.
*Kevin Ware has been getting a lot of hype this summer, and we got to see why. He played with great energy and confidence. Last year, it seemed like when he was in the game, he just tried to not mess up, which usually led to him messing up! Today it seemed like he just played ball, and it led to 11 points, 9 assists, 4 steals and only 1 turnover in 38 minutes. I am excited to see what he brings to the team this season.
*It seems like Luke Hancock will be a key player for us this season. Although his shot was not falling, he brought the ball up the floor a lot for the White team and seems very versatile with his abilities. People have said he may be like Kyle Kuric, but I don’t think so after watching him. He is much more assertive and kept playing his game and making an impact even when his shot was not falling. He did go down in the 2nd half and briefly returned, but ended the game with ice on his shoulder on the bench, which concerns me. Hopefully he is alright. And oh yeah, he did hit a shot from “Kyle’s Korner”!
*Wayne Blackshear looked pretty good out there. Bottom line is, it was just good to see him healthy and able to play 38 minutes. I would like to see him shoot better from the field (5-19), but he ended up with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. So I am ok with that!
*I was impressed with Mangok Mathiang, who looks all the part of the next Gorgui Dieng. He needs to put some weight on, but so did Gorgui. He only played 12 minutes but had 9 points and 7 rebounds. Pitino has said he would probably red shirt this year, but it would not shock me if he doesn’t.
*Russ was Russ. 3-16 shooting, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, and 6 fouls! So next game he probably scores 30. Like I said, Russ was Russ.
*So overall, like I said I was not upset with how the scrimmage went. I am just not one to automatically crown us as the best team in the country yet. I need to see us play in games that count against good competition, which we will see right away. The pieces are definitely there to make a run at the title though. Senior PG, good big man, and depth everywhere. So I am looking forward to the season tipping off, but of course until then, I am enjoying this football run by the Cards!