Well that one certainly was a good start to this big Saturday in UofL sports! The Cards knocked off North Florida 89-61 to improve to 3-0 on the season, and there were plenty of good things to point out from this one.
Have yourself a game, Ray Spalding
The freshman had a huge game, scoring 18 points on 8-10 shooting and was 2-2 from the free throw line. He also grabbed 12 rebounds, earning his first double-double of his young career. Add in four steals and two blocks, and Mr. Spalding easily becomes the talk of this game.
I don’t expect a double-double every game from him, but I think we did get to see what Pitino has talked about with him. He got deflections and a lot of hustle points, and that is what will help him contribute this season. In a game where Jaylen Johnson didn’t give too much, it was nice to see Spalding have his “coming out” party, if you will.
Before the season started, Coach Pitino said that this could be one of the better rebounding teams he has coached. Today, they absolutely owned the glass with a rebounding edge of 53-22. North Florida had 22 total rebounds, while Louisville had 22 offensive rebounds. Spalding led the team with 12, Chinanu Onuaku had nine, Damion Lee had seven, and Donovan Mitchell even had six.
Onuaku stuffing the stat sheet?
I know. It is weird for me to type too. But in this early season, Chinanu Onuaku seems to be doing a little bit of everything. In this game, he finished with six points, nine rebounds, five assists, five steals, and one block. Four of his rebounds were on the offensive end, which are usually grabbed because of effort and hustle. It appears that Onuaku may have turned a corner in those areas from last season. His growth and improvement could pay off in a big way this season.
Oh, and he had 0 fouls…ZERO.
Graduate transfers can score
It was nice to see Damion Lee and Trey Lewis both have it going on the offensive side. That is why those guys were brought in, to help with the scoring with a team that struggled to do that last season. Lee led the team with 24 points on 10-16 shooting and also had seven rebounds and three assists.
Trey Lewis finished with 15 points on 7-16 shooting and chipped in four rebounds and one assist. These guys are only going to get more and more comfortable with each game. This was a good one for those two to get going in the same game.
Great team chemistry
Everything is better and easier when you win. I get that. But there is just something different about this team. You really do believe, or I do anyway, that they get along and are playing for each other and for the team. You didn’t get that feeling last year. You do now.
Whether it is making the extra pass or just seeing the bench generally look happy for their teammates, this team is fun to watch. Checking out social media late in the game, there were plenty of “I love this team” tweets, and I have to agree. I don’t care who we have played. I thoroughly enjoy watching these guys play team basketball. It is a treat.
As always, Go Cards!