Some healing was in order for a team questioning itself, looking for answers, needing to get past the disbelief, the uncertainty, and the disappointment. Needing a home game, needing some love, the warm embrace of fans at the KFC Yum! Center.
Equally important is that there is no more taking anybody for granted for this University of Louisville basketball team, not following the three-ring circus and five-overtime nightmare at South Bend.
Parity is reality, not coach speak any more, especially when every team knows exactly what you’re going to do next and is prepared to stop you, witness the fact that six St. John’s players accumulated seven blocks. Had they been better shooters, St. John’s could have added to the hurt, denying UofL the 72-58 win.
- Russ Smith needed some redemption, taking a while to get going again. But when he did, he was at his best, making four assists to go with three steals and six rebounds. Found his shot again just when UofL needed it, giving his team some breathing room, leading all scorers with 24 points.
- Peyton Siva needed to be a shooter again, quit hiding out behind all the assists, the dribbling and the dishing drives down the lane. He did, making four of nine shots to go with six assists. Needed to be smarter on defense, committing only one foul while making a couple of steals.
- Chane Behanan making only one turnover. One turnover, mind you, while pulling down eight rebounds and hitting five of eight field goal attempts for 10 points. Hanging on to the ball, that Chane in this game.
- Gogui Dieng playing 37 minutes, the time taking a toll on his shooting, some weird ones at times, but still scoring 10 points. Good positioning, home court bounces and stubborn tenacity resulting in 17 rebounds.
Now may come the real test for this UofL team, with three consecutive unimpressive opponents straight ahead — Seton Hall, South Florida, and, yes, DePaul — the next three games. Teams that would be all too easy to overlook but each of them wanting to exact their pound of flesh.