So much for Rick Pitino making exhibition basketball games look challenging as he did during his first few seasons at the University of Louisville. So many of them were cliffhangers.
He has far too much talent on the floor for that to happen these days if the 115-67 romp over Kentucky Wesleyan is any indication. So many shooters and interchangeable parts, even without Luke Hancock, Kevin Ware and Chane Behanan available for this game.
As Pitino noted, Russ Smith may indeed be un-guardable with the new rules changes designed to prohibit all the pushing, grabbing and slapping on defense. Even when they’re complying with the rules, some defenses will have a tough time guarding Russ Smith, he’s so quick, deceptive and aggressive.
Russ, by the way, will have more company in his speed class, with Chris Jones, Terry Rozier and Anton Gill around this season. Their combined maneuverability will make UofL a better defensive team and their shooting should be more potent early on. A mix of both good defense and offense will be nice for a change as a new season begins.
Van Treese is still in shell shock from being named a starter, with only two rebounds in 18 minutes and only one shot attempt. The old, out-of-control banger just wasn’t anywhere to be found in the exhibition game. Pitino is already on his case, and Van Treese is about to get a lot more personal attention from the head coach.
Mangok Mathiang already resembles Gorgui Dieng in a lot of ways and will only get better, along with Akoy Agau, providing more depth for Stephan Van Treese than Gorgui ever enjoyed.
Montrezl Harrell only knows how to play at one level of intensity, to the extreme, making nine of 10 shots, most of them dunks, while delivering seven rebounds.
A crowd of 20,288 on hand for an impressive exhibition, a good first impression. Here we go again.