Angel Nunez moving along

Angel Nunez will be moving on to another basketball program, transferring after the current semester, according to reports.

Angel Nunez
Angel Nunez

Nunez arrived at Louisville with a reputation as a shooter but defense comes first for Rick Pitino. Falling short in that department so we never saw much of his offensive prowess.

Pitino said that Nunez had recently suffered a concussion, one of the worst he had ever seen. Hopefully, he’s on the road to recovery.

Likable player, sorry it didn’t work out for him. Wish him well wherever he decides to go.

Have to wonder if this tweet by Bria Smith, of the women’s basketball team and a friend of Nunez pre-dating their arrival at UofL, is related:

 

Louisville outside looking in during NBA draft

The disparity so obvious to the professionals, eager to make numerous former University of Kentucky players millionaires overnight.

Six Uk basketball players picked during the first and second rounds of the NBA draft, including the No. 1 and No. 2 selections overall.

Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith of Louisville still waiting in the wings thus far.

The talent level considered so superior, making one wonder how U of L managed to stay close during seven and eight-point during two losses to Kentucky this past season, the outcomes of both games in doubt until around the six-minute marks.

One must conclude that Rick Pitino is a genius at getting players to compete beyond their natural abilities. That’s especially true on defense, which is the only logical rationale for how his most recent U of L team made it to a Final Four appearance.

Give him some shooters, like say a healthy Wayne Blackshear, transfers Luke Hancock and  Montrezl Harrell, and another year of development for Angel Nunez. Stronger and more seasoned versions of Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan. More time with Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.

Keep them healthy.  Maturity and confidence will be apparent on both ends of the court. Watch the master motivator do what he does best.

Draft picks or no draft picks.

More things change, the more they stay the same

Rick Pitino signaled significant change was on the way. He didn’t promise results.

The Louisville basketball coach’s idea of change is shaking up his starting lineup, pulling two players assumed to be the most reliable and consistent. Senior Kyle Kuric and freshman Chane Behanan on the bench as the game begins, two of the team’s most reliable players.

Bring on Wayne Blackshear and Jared Swopshire, two of the most unpredictable, make them starters. That should shake things up a bit, motivate them and their teammates.

Pitino has been coaching for 35 years so we’ll have to defer to his experience. Not that we’ll ever understand much of what he does. He has a penchant for the unpredictable, doing the complete opposite of what seems logical. Usually counteracting himself on what he says he is going to do.

The man in change, the one with all the power, the one doing all the pontificating, the one with all the answers. Ask him. Just don’t expect a straight answer.

Maybe Pitino had visions of Kuric going ballistic behind the three-point line, or Behanan transforming into the Hulk. Or maybe he believed Blackshear was ready for prime time. He couldn’t have thought Swopshire would be more productive, or could he?

Peyton Siva might have seemed to be the most logical candidate for a stay on the bench. That would have been too predictable, however, and Pitino doesn’t do that. Gotta keep everybody guessing. We’ll never know whether Elisha Justice had a chance at starting or not.

Angel Nunez, remember, was also supposed to get more playing time, such a good shooter in practice. Never made to the scorer’s table.

What we do know is that there are a lot of people, including the players, who are confused, disappointed and in the dark about decisions. Some would call it lacking any clear direction.

That’s not going to change. Pitino loves to keep people guessing.

Homecoming for two former U of L players

Difficult to get excited about playing a school with the initials IUPUI, a team always having to go the extra mile to earn any respect.

We have a feeling the program will penciled in on future pre-conference games, with two former University of Louisville basketball players Todd Howard and David Padgett, serving as head coach and assistant coach, respectively. They brought with them lots of memories from two different eras, mostly good, but one oldtimers around in 1975 are still trying to forget.

Padgett knew the opponent well enough that IUPUI was able to stay within five points at the intermission, despite having three seniors benched for most of the first half. That, plus some good three point shooting, keeping things respectable for the first 25 minutes.

Other observations:

  • Gorgui Dieng is getting the hang of backing in on his defender, practically conducting an offensive clinic. Eight of eight field goal attempts, 12 rebounds equally divided on the offensive and defensive sides. Playing with confidence, no funny looking shots this night. Early season games are about development, and he’s taking advantage. Dieng knows he still has much to learn, and he’s committed.
  • Russ Smith is mostly about shooting, but he’s may be the quickest guard Louisville has had in a couple of decades. He brings enthusiasm every time he steps on the floor. He’s becoming a better defender every time out, and he should with an assistant coach like Andre McGee around to counsel him.
  • Rakeem Buckles is obviously going to need a little while to get back to the speedy, bouncy, speedy, mix-it-up stimulant we saw during his freshman season. Needs to happen before Big East play begins.
  • Speaking of recovering, Peyton Siva needs to find his shooting eye again, falling short on the long range shots and even those impossible layups in this game. He doesn’t seem to be able shift gears like he did before his injuries.
  • Angel Nunez sitting patiently on the bench until he gets the call, making three of smoothest looks we’ve seen this season. Nice to have the luxury of that kind of talent in the wings.
  • Chris Smith quietly leading all scorers with 19 points, recovering from a sub-par performance against Vanderbilt.
  • Kyle Kuric is at his best when he’s up against great competition, not getting excited about IUPUI, but still making five of eight shots, a master at finishing the fast break.

The team is still undefeated after eight games, with one more lightweight to come. One should enjoy the carefree atmosphere while one can.

Bahamas checklist

Ten things we learned about University of Louisville basketball during the Bahamas trip:

  • Rick Pitino and Richard discover a tropical treat on the island, chomping chewing gum five sticks at a time.
  • Dad and son inseparable on the sideline, finishing each other’s sentences.
  • Russ Smith is a dead ringer for Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Russ Smith may be quicker than DaJuan Wheat.
  • Bahamians, those who play basketball anyway, are not always smiling and hospitable.
  • Kyle Kuric’s girlfriend among faces in the crowd, along with Ron Carmicle (yes, Carmicle) and Al Parrish.
  • Chane Behanan already a better dribbler, passer, receiver, shooter and rebounder than Earl Clark.
  • Bob Valvano sick, stuck in hotel room. Bad sunburn?
  • Angel Nunez will bring the rainbow back to Louisville after a 25-year hiatus.
  • Marvin Menzies has a future as a color man in broadcasting.