David Padgett sitting on the bench with two fouls for three-quarters of the first half, no way Louisville survives. That might have been the way it went 12 games ago but U of L was focused tonight, hitting threes like they came naturally, canning 12 of 24 attempts while holding a team that made its living on threes to only four of 12.
The dream scenario is that everything finally comes together, youth becomes maturity, potential becomes reality. Not enough to play two good games the first week. Growth has to be real, not adrenaline induced but knowledge and experience-based and extended over three weeks.
David Padgett playing more than eight-minute stretches, sky hooks connecting both sides of the basket. Padgett says he is 100% healthy; proving it by hanging in there for a couple extra minutes every game.
No ifs, ands or buts this time of year. No amateur hours, no head hanging, no gallivanting around between games. Time to do what Pitino has preached. Stand up, move out of the pew, get out there and convert the doubters.
With the continuing rain, the first session of spring football practice was moved to the Traeger Center, that marvelous facility Tom Jurich made possible with contributions from the Traeger family and a number of other very generous U of L fans.
Some first day impressions:
James Bryant, the 6-3, 257-pound linebacker transfer from Miami, impresses right away. Intercepted a pass, ran it to the end zone. He’s a gifted athlete, knows exactly what to do with an interception. Don’t ever get in his way.
Jeff Brohm, as offensive coordinator, is where he needs to be. Seems to be an inordinate amount of talent at quarterback, running back and wide receivers, still more coming in with the freshman class.
All the whining about last year’s disappointing football season finally settled down at about the same time University of Louisville fans turned their full attention to basketball. For football coach Steve Kragthorpe, the timing couldn’t have been better. He badly needed to do a little housecleaning, say goodbye to some NFL hopefuls, attract some capable assistant coaches, and complete his first full recruiting class.
Kragthorpe gathers his troops together for the first time officially since last season when spring drills begin Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. New beginning: reason for optimism. Coaching transitions, more often than not, are accompanied by setbacks and adjustments to new systems. Takes time, and Kragthorpe will take advantage.
His first season at U of L was certainly full of ups-and-downs. Despite a couple of early losses, the Cardinals defeated 15th-ranked Cincinnati last season, 28-24, at Nippert Stadium for Kragthorpe’s first signature win, and battled back from a 38-24 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Rutgers, 41-38, in the regular-season finale.
There will definitely be tons of speed on the field with players like Bilal Powell, Jajuan Spillman, Trent Guy and Victor Anderson on the offensive side. It will be interesting to see the competition between Hunter Cantwell, Tyler Wolfe and Matt Simms for the quarterback position. The transition of people like Sergio Spencer and Brandon Health to defense will get a lot of attention, as will transfers James Bryant, from Miami, and James McKinney, from Michigan.
Expectations won’t be through the roof this season as they were last year. One would hope, however, that the enthusiasm that prompted fans to rush the field after the win over Rutgers carries over into preparations for the 2008 season. The fans became permanently invested in U of L football when the former coach took the Cards to the Orange Bowl and their first BCS victory ever. They are eagerly hoping to see it happen again, the sooner the better.
Welcome back, football.