Russ Smith, Luke Hancock and Stephan Van Treese have moved on, taking with them all their experience, all those record-setting wins, including two Final Four appearances and a national championship.
Basketball is back at the University of Louisville, with a lot of new faces at Sunday’s Red-White Scrimmage. So many of them at both ends of the court, making a printed copy of the roster almost a necessity.
They held a scrimmage at the KFC Yum! Sunday, something akin to a coming out party for players in new leadership roles and newcomers, resembling an all-star game more than a scrimmage with little defense despite the 75-72 score.
— Montrezl Harrell will again be a scoring machine but will he be better than 60% from the free throw line? Appeared lucky to hit one of three Sunday despite all the extra work on free throws during the off season. Looked like he had spent more time on three-point shots.
— Wayne Blackshear more assertive for sure, looking for more shots, aggressively going to the basket, pulling down 11 rebounds, five on the offensive end. Another new beginning for him, also changing his jersey number from No. 20 to No. 25.
— Chris Smith, trimmed down, quicker, taking charge in the closing minutes. Needing to carry over some of that enthusiasm to defense.
— Terry Rozier, the leading scorer with 25 points, could have doubled his production with better shot selection.
— Anton Gill is the guard who will create chaos when he goes in for a layup, making some of the unbelievable Russ-type.
— Anas Mahmoud, the seven-foot freshman from Cairo, mature beyond his years and experience, cool under pressure, could well be a leader before his time.
Lots of youth and growing up to do with one of the toughest schedules in the program’s history coming up. Rick Pitino will have to be patient.
Some significant steps forward during a football game in which the University of Louisville appeared to make a 30-18 win over North Carolina State more challenging than the crowd of 50,227 expected.
Just getting DeVante Parker back on the field would have been a plus, but he was back to his old form, confident, smooth and more than capable, pulling in a Will Gardner pass in full stride on the second play from scrimmage, accumuating 37 yards. He would catch eight more passes and account for 132 yards, Just getting a feel for the game again, the touchdowns will come later.
“I thought he played really well,” said Coach Bobby Petrino. “I was really impressed with the way he ran after the catch. I thought he’d get open, I thought he’d catch the ball, but I didn’t expect to see that many yards after the catch.”
Michael Dyer made an impression during practices leading up to the game, playing like he practiced, playing his best game since arriving at UofL a year ago, churning for 173 yards. He also caught a couple of passes for eight yards.The 46-yard touchdown dash with 44 seconds to go a fitting reward for the past week and all those months healing from injuries.
“I always tell our players they earn their playing time on the practice field, and we’ve tried to really live by that. And it’s shown up this year, so we’re just going to keep working on that,” said Petrino.
Will Gardner would finally get some time in the pocket, time to look for receivers, completing 21 of 36 attempts for 203 yards. Not Teddy Bridgewater numbers but Gardner’s still learning. Two touchdown passes, too, including a 13-yarder to Eli Rogers and a three-yarder to Kai DeLa Cruz.
No Louisville fumbles or interceptions, believe it or not. Thankfully an official review erased what appeared to be a Gardner fumble and an ugly North Carolina State return for a touchdown. Didn’t really happen. No turnovers.
No false starts. In fact, the UofL offensive line was responsible for only one violation, a holding penalty and was penalized for only 10 yards out of four penalties for 33 yards. A good day for Jamon Brown, Jake Smith, Tobijah Hughley, and Aaron Epps. Not so great for senior tackle Ryan Mack watching from the sideline.
Signs of improvement against a team that has lost eight straight conference games, but progress nevertheless.
Or as Petrino puts it, “We’re a work in progress.”
An optimistic Bobby Petrino had some good news following the University of Louisville football team’s Thursday practice. DeVante Parker will be available to play against North Carolina State on Saturday.
“I’m knocking on wood here, but he looks like he might be available to go,” he said. “He practiced all three days and he looked good out there tonight, so I’m excited about it. I’ll list him as questionable, but I think he’s ready to go.”
Petrino was also upbeat on improved protection for the signal callers, indicating that the receivers and quarterbacks are getting the timing down. “We’re working hard on the protection part of it. We’re continually working to get better at it. I guess we’ll find out here on Saturday,” he said.
Jude Schimmel will be on her own this season, with big sister Shoni moving up to the Women’s National Basketball Association. Expect Jude to leave an indelible mark on University of Louisville women’s basketball because she’s a serious competitor.
Jude brings passion to the floor, overcoming her petite 5-foot-6 frame with smarts and speed. She’s a crowd favorite and is inevitably welcomed by a rendition of “Hey Jude” by the UofL Pep Band when she checks in at the scorer’s table. She also brings a sense of humor, with a quick smile on and off the court, and draws swarms of autograph seekers after games.
No doubt she will miss having Shoni around, they are so close. Jude actually skipped the eighth grade so she they could play together on the varsity team. Concerns about academics were minimal and she went to to compete high school with an 3.8 grade average.
She has already earned her undergraduate degree in sociology at UofL this past summer, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in sports administration.
Jude played in 33 games as a junior last season while averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 assists per game and was credited with a second best total of 54 steals.
Hopefully Jude sticks around Louisville for a while after her collegiate playing career is done.
The observer is strapped in giving blood at the American Red Cross on Hubbard’s Lane, the hemoglobin flowing from his left arm when the unexpected happens.
“Ooooooh, my Lord” shrieks the Red Cross worker in his ear. “What’s wrong?” he asks, looking first at the needle, his arm and then the phlebotomist.
She’s not looking at him, however, but staring in awe out the window, proclaiming, “That’s Luke Hancock,” she says. “I can’t believe it.” Hancock is heading next door to pick up his dog Chloie from the pet store where his pet has been getting a shampoo. The last person the technician is concerned about is the donor for now.
Meanwhile, all the Red Cross technicians, except for the lone UK fan, pull out their cell phones to get pictures of him heading back to the car. One of them is bold enough to invite him into the facility. Luke passes on giving blood this trip but patiently poses for photos. (See the excited Erin Huguley with Luke above, and with his dog Chloie below).
Hancock is incredibly upbeat despite being waived by the Memphis Grizzlies a couple days ago, and still wearing their T-shirt. And the observer is able to thank him personally for those four consecutive three-pointers for the University of Louisville in the NCAA Final Four in 2013.
Every University of Louisville fanatic has at least a dozen UofL shirts in their wardrobe, including T-shirts, jerseys, and hoodies.
But what about the slacks, the pants? Next to zero. Dockers to the rescue, introducing a line of stylish Game Day khakis for Louisville and 43 other leading universities.
Unlike generic college gear (e.g., baggy sweatpants with giant logos or stiff cotton tees), these are well-made, versatile and let you represent your school, dressed up or down at the game, the bar, the office, etc. They come in two modern fits (classic or jean-like alpha fit) and in two colors (khaki or primary school color) with a discreet back-pocket logo and each schools rallying cry inside the waistband. Men’s or women’s, pants and shorts.