After all the drama swirling around UofL Men’s Basketball because of yet another tawdry scandal, it’s my pleasure to present to you, my fellow UofL fans, an article about the actual basketball team. That’s right. There’s no death penalty yet. UofL gets to play basketball this year.
And boy do they have a God Deng good team. A near perfect blend of youthful talent and gritty experience. A new captain leads the unit. His name is Padgett and to our opponents I must warn you, he does not come in peace. He has come to annihilate you on the court. Beware the conqueror has arrived.
Now, let’s review the Red-White scrimmage from last Friday. I will speak on some individual players that I focused on. Players like Deng Adel. The junior forward returned to school after testing the NBA waters. Improvement in his game was needed and what better place to improve than here.
In last Friday’s game, I saw improvement. Adel still said, “hello from the outsiiiiiide,” with a few 3 point field goals. He can still shoot. However, what impressed me most was his improved ball handling and his willingness to drive to the rim and try to take a soul.
You may be asking yourself, “Take a soul? What do you mean by that?” What I mean by that is he drove to dunk on people. He drove to assert his authority on defenders. Deng may end up be a National Player of the Year candidate.
Another player who showed immense improvement was VJ King. He held court Friday night. VJ scored in a variety of ways. He showed his ability to pull up from both inside and outside the arc and drain jumpers. King is likely one of the best shooters on the team.
Like Deng, his ability to drive and score at the rim was a welcome sight. We fans had been hearing VJ was stronger and now could finish through contact. The game showed me it wasn’t hyperbole. His defense is much better. I don’t recall seeing him look lost defensively during the game. VJ King really does appear to be ready to have a breakout year.
Ray Spalding also stood out. He was much more aggressive. He played with a chip on his shoulder. I think the ball must’ve been a Spalding brand ball because Ray owned the ball on rebounds. It was the best game on the boards I think I’ve ever seen him have. If he can give the effort he did last Friday consistently this season, the team as a whole will thrive.
Quentin Snider was steadying presence he has always been. He took open shots when he had them. Like any good general, he executed the offense perfectly. The talk in the off-season was his improved quickness. Snider showed it right on Q. His defense is better than it was last year. He wasn’t getting beat off the dribble near as much. I loved seeing his quickness on offense. He drove to the basket with what I thought was a much quicker first step.
Q is the rock of this team. He’s Louisville kid living his dream. Just call him The Foundation. Donate your time, voice, and love to The Foundation this year Card fam.
Dwayne Sutton is also a Louisville kid. Transferred back home, to play for his home town team. Of all the players on the floor last Friday, I thought he played the toughest. For his size, he’s a beast. He seems to have an ability to out muscle bigger, taller players. Sutton may just be the tough guy we need. He can be a scorer, but on this team it’s more likely his toughness and rebounding will be needed more.
I also would like to give two freshmen a little love. Malik Williams and Jordan Nwora. Williams is a 6’10 freak. He brought up the ball like a point guard at one point in the game and initiated the offense. He can hit shots from beyond the arc as well. He needs to get a little stronger down low and the form of his shot could use a little tweaking. Yet, from what I saw, he will help this team immensely this season. He has too much talent not too.
Nwora doesn’t wow you with spectacular athleticism, but he has a great basketball IQ. He seems to be able to work nicely off the ball and can get open. He may end up being the best pure shooter on the team. His form is nearly flawless and at 6’8, getting his shot off should be relatively easy. He’s not like the Jordan that played for the Bulls, he’s more like Luke Hancock.
Overall, the team’s length will make them a tough team defensively. Even if you beat this team on the dribble, nothing will be easy at the rim. What was really impressive was the passing. There were two particular possessions where the ball barely touched the floor and was moved seamlessly around for open shots. This team is unselfish, but not too unselfish. At least, for this particular scrimmage.
No one knows what the future holds. All we have is the here and now. We have a top 15 team fully loaded with talent. A young, energetic team that has great chemistry and is full of quality young men. Heart will never be a question this year. They’ll give all they got. Relish what we have now. The motto for us fans this year should be, “live in the moment.” It’s considered a cliché, but it’s not when it’s the truth. Show up and root on this team. Show the world what Cardinals are all about.
Thanks for joining me, Mr. Puntastic, in…