A nice little break from football and the conference realignment drama, this exhibition basketball game against Pikeville.
The defending champs of the NAIA play pretty sound basketball. A few seasons ago, a team like UPike may have claimed a win against the University of Louisville. Not this year, however. Too much talent, experience and togetherness to allow anything like that to happen.
- Gorgui Dieng may be ahead of schedule in his development, with surprising dexterity to go with his newfound physique, turning in 15 rebounds, six blocked shots, 14 points and zero fouls. An added bonus is the positive work ethic he brings to the game, the maturity he conveys anytime he gets in front of a microphone. A very likeable player, the kind we’ve seen on championship teams in the past.
- Chane Behanan is a bruiser but he gets up and down the court quickly, outrunning the opposition for most of his 16 points while turning in seven rebounds. The kind of physical strength Pittsburgh usually brings. He will push and shove with the best of them and, as Rick Pitino said after the game, “he will get better, better, better and better.”
- Peyton Siva out there having fun again, creating, motivating, slipping down the middle for those twisting lay ups. Becoming more and more comfortable as a point guard, a natural spot for him with his sharing spirit.
- Kyle Kuric, defending homecoming king who may give up his title to Peyton Siva at this week’s UofL-Syracuse football game, displaying his always surprising quickness and jumping ability to go with those daggers from the corner.
- Jared Swopshire, for whom the coach says the clock is ticking, needs to get back in the flow. Always a casual presence before getting injured, the coach is going to expect and demand more intensity.
- Wayne Blackshear, back in the game after a five-month absence, has some ground to make up quickly. He wasn’t about to force anything and that says a lot about him. This probably will be the first and last time he winds up with zero points in any game.