Louisville still looking for a leader

A win is a win but this is a long-term project.

A few thoughts after a frantic, almost directionless, but inevitable 82-57 win for the University of Louisville basketball team over Florida International:

–UofL is lacking a leader right now, a player who can assess the situation, take charge, communicate what needs to be done, demand, expect and trust his teammates to follow through. Just having the ability to get to the basket to make rim-rattling dunks or to attempt three-point shots isn’t leadership.

–Montrezl Harrell has a pesonal goal of being named national player of the year. He may have already played himself out of contention during a game in which he makes five turnovers. Got to start hitting a few more of those three-point attempts. Harrell is barking at his teammates at times during games, with a look resembling frustration.

–Terry Rozier, having skipped a class, relegated to the bench to at the beginning of the game, giving up his starting spot for four minutes to David Levitch. Rick Pitino says Rozier approaches the game like a professional, but he may be thinking too much about about a professional career, at least in the early gimme games. If Rozier wants to play at the next level, he may need to focus more on making his teammates better.

–Chris Jones is from the Andre McGee school of defense, making life difficult for opponents, but he seems to be trying to do too much too quickly on the offensive end. He comes up with three steals against FIU but manages only a three-to-three assists-to-turnover ratio on offense. He’s trying to look good but he looks erratic, his game crying out for consistency.

–Wayne Blackshear reverting to a supporting role against FIU, disappearing at times seven games into the season. He’s more assertive going to the basket, less assertive about leadership. If he’s going to take command, the blank look on his face betrays him. Some emotion might be helpful.

–Chinanu Onuaku. I bring him up only because he’s the fifth starter. Just a freshman catching up with the college game, adjusting to his additional weight and strength, improving game by game. Too early to saddle him with leadership concerns.


Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

One thought on “Louisville still looking for a leader”

  1. At least two of Harrell’s turnovers came when he was attempting to pass and the teammate did not do their part. One, the interior pass to Onuaku received Petino’s criticism, but I saw it as an attempt to improve our interior offense. The other one that comes to mind is the one where Blackshear appeared to go backdoor and had he continued on that path the pass would have been a spectacular assist. Both of those passes made me think that the rest of the team has a long way to go to catch up to Harrell’s understanding of situation. I am reminded of the old time player who would put the ball in your ear if you did not wake up and catch it, to some extent MH can do that and the others need to adapt.

    As to the seeming lack of leadership elsewhere, I have never been a big fan of Petino’s offense, it is like a kite floating in the air waiting to stall; it is one of the reasons Russ Smith’s assertiveness was so welcome even when he was ridiculous, he at least showed that there was something possible against the opponent. We would lose every game if the whole team adopted Russ’ early style, but there has to be an underpinning of intent that so many Pitino teams lack. Passing on the perimeter until we find an open three pointer seems a formula to live by and die by, and is especially a waste when we finally have so much interior size.

    We are probably saying the same thing about the offense. We have too much talent to be so bad. Now how do I end this rant; oh, I know, I’ll mention our Free Throw shooting.

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