The Louisville men’s basketball team opened its season on Wednesday night with a 67-66 loss to Bellarmine at the KFC Yum! Center.
Five thoughts following the Cards one-point loss on Wednesday night:
The crowd inside the Yum! Center on Wednesday night was probably louder and more engaged than we saw at any point before the coaching change last season. Credit the fanbase for showing up. Considering the 9:00 p.m. tip on a weeknight combined with the overall lack of expectations entering the season, Louisville has to be pleased with the crowd that was here despite the result.
If you are looking for a positive takeaway from this game, it is that Louisville started both halves looking like a somewhat competent basketball team. The energy was high, but the Cards could not sustain it over the course of 40 minutes. Unfortunately, we saw shades of what plagued this team last year. This roster is not good enough to get away with mailing it in for long stretches at a time. Credit Bellarmine for taking full advantage.
Louisville shot 28 three-pointers on Wednesday night, more than half of its total field goal attempts. On paper this is not expected to be the strongest jump shooting team. Despite making 11 of them for 39 percent, the Cards have to do a better job of getting the ball inside offensively as the season goes on. In the second half, they were able to attack the paint more successfully and get to the line, but ultimately it was too late.
We have a much better idea of who Head Coach Kenny Payne trusts on this team after Wednesday. Only seven Cards played real minutes in the loss. It is pretty clear that El Ellis and Mike James are going to get the overwhelming majority of the guard minutes if they are healthy and out of foul trouble. We saw more of a traditional rotation inside with Curry, Withers, Huntley-Hatfield, and Wheeler. Still expect Coach Payne to do some experimenting with this roster throughout the year, especially if Louisville continues to lose games.
Bellarmine is a fine program, but if you cannot beat them at home in November you should not expect to be very competitive in the ACC. Good teams take bad losses in November all the time, but when you combine Wednesday night’s performance with the two results from the preseason, we have a pretty clear picture of Louisville’s floor. It is low, probably lower than most suspected entering the season. Things can change and the Cards should certainly improve, but as of now this does not look like a team that will win many games in 2022-2023.
Lousiville is back at home on Saturday afternoon for a 1:00 p.m. matchup with Wright State.