Louisville Basketball returns tonight vs Hartford

Quentin Snider
Photo: Tim Haag/CardinalSportsZone.com

Quick game notes from GoCards.com:

Date: Nov. 17, 2015
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Site: KFC Yum! Center/Crum Court, Louisville, Ky. (22,000) (82-13 in 6th yr.)
Television: ESPN3 – Kent Taylor, play-by-play; Jody Demling, analyst.
Radio: WKRD (790 AM) Paul Rogers, play-by-play; Doug Ormay, analyst (Sirius channel 132, XM 194)
Series History: Louisville leads 2-0 (2-0 in Louisville)
Last Meeting: UofL 87, Hartford 48 (Nov. 19, 2013 at KFC Yum! Center; Hall of Fame Tipoff)
UofL National Ranking: unranked (receiving votes in both polls)
Officials: Les Jones, Wally Rutecki, Gary Prager
Next UofL Game: Nov. 21 vs. North Florida, 12:02 p.m. ET, Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Inv., KFC Yum! Center (ESPN3)

The Louisville Cardinals return to the court this evening to take on the Hartford Hawks, who hail from West Hartford, Connecticut and will bring their 1-1 record into the KFC Yum! Center. On paper, this is one that the Cards should win, but as we have already seen in this young college basketball season, anything can happen. Don’t take anything for granted.

I won’t begin to hype up Hartford like they are Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, or any other powerhouse that Louisville faces this season. But here are some things to look for tonight…

Onuaku staying out of foul trouble

One of the big concerns heading into this season is whether or not Chinanu Onuaku can stay out of foul trouble. In the first Red-White scrimmage, he had eight (yes, eight) fouls in the first 16 minutes. That probably won’t work in the regular season.

In the opening game against Samford, Onuaku only ended up with two fouls. Granted, he only played 14 minutes in that game. But you will take the two fouls anytime. He finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 blocks. If he has improved THAT much since last year, Onuaku becomes one of the most important guys on the roster this season. He has to be able to stay on the court and limit his fouls.

He could find himself matched up with John Carroll tonight, a 6’8 sophomore who is averaging a team-best 14.5 points per game through two games and also 6 rebounds per contest.

Get Damion Lee going early

If you just look at the box score, you see that Damion Lee ended up with 14 points against Samford, tied for the team lead with Donovan Mitchell. But if you watched the game, you know those points came near the end with the game out of hand.

After the games in Puerto Rico this summer, it appeared that if the Cards had a go-to guy to get points when needed, it was Lee. Since then, he has struggled a little bit. The positive, however, is seeing Lee still cheering on his teammates and being a good leader even when he wasn’t scoring early on against Samford. That is something that won’s show up in a box score, but can not be overlooked, especially with a young team like this.

What you would like to see is Lee get going early in the game and set the tone. But it probably wasn’t a bad thing to see that even when he doesn’t score, he doesn’t get down, and he can still fill it up pretty fast at any point.

Cards should win the rebounding battle

The tallest player on Hartford’s roster is 6’9 Dougal Weir, who has only played one minute this season. So that makes the aforementioned John Carroll the tallest player in the regular rotation, and he stands at 6’8. Just in Louisville’s starting lineup, you have Chinanu Onuaku at 6’10, Jaylen Johnson at 6’8, and Deng Adel at 6’7. Hartford rounds out their starting lineup with 6’4, 6’4, 6’1, and 5’10. Louisville also has Damion Lee at 6’6 and Trey Lewis at 6’2.

Then of course coming off the bench will be Anas Mahmoud at 7’0 and Mangok Mathiang at 6’10. Needless to say, Louisville should control the boards tonight. The leading rebounder for Hartford is Pancake Thomas, yes…Pancake. Pancake is one of those 6’4 guards but he leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game. So keep Pancake off the glass, which is always a good idea anyway, and UofL should control that portion of the game.

Continued good outside shooting?

One thing we all got used to last year (unfortunately) was sub-par shooting. In the opener against Samford, Louisville shot 7-15 from three for 46.7%. You will take that any game you can get it. Quentin Snider was 2-4 from downtown and if his jump shot has improved as it sounds like it may have, he becomes a weapon that can do more than just run the offense and set others up to score.

Trey Lewis was 1-4 from three and just 1-8 from the field in general. You know he won’t struggle like that all season. He still got to the free throw line six times, making four of them, and dished out six assists. So he found other ways to impact the game when his shot wasn’t falling. The fact that this team scored 86 points with Lewis shooting 1-8 has to be encouraging.

Get through the subdued environment

Let’s face it. This one probably won’t be one of the more electric atmospheres in KFC Yum! Center history. Having it be a weeknight game against Hartford is one thing. But then you take away the Kentucky fans who love to come watch our Cards play (since they play Duke tonight) and it will probably be another average environment overall. We appreciate their money and support by the way…

The team has to get past that and not sleep walk through this game and let Hartford sneak up on them. There have been too many upsets and crazy finishes already in this young college basketball season. Hopefully, the Cards don’t fall victim to that because of a low-key Tuesday evening game. For what it’s worth, I don’t think that will happen. I just think the team may have to create their own excitement and momentum tonight.


That environment thing doesn’t come into play tonight. The Cards take care of business and it is never in doubt. They dominate on the glass and everyone gets to play. Louisville wins 77-50 and improves to 2-0 heading into a Saturday match-up against North Florida.

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