Sutton comes up big for Louisville against Bellarmine

Samuell Williamson (top photo) arrives on the Louisville basketball scene with his first dunk in an exhibition game against Bellarmine. Coach Chris Mack counsels Darius Perry and Ryan McMahon (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Dunking

What life would be like for the University of Louisville basketball team without any legitimate big men was on full display in all of its aches and pains in an exhibition game on Tuesday. UofL struggling to defeat Bellarmine 75-65 before 15,009 at the KFC Yum! Center.

Jordan Nwora with two of his 28 points in the exhibition win over Bellarmine University (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Neither Steven Enoch and Malik Williams available because of injuries, the Cardinals never able to assert any dominance. Who would have envisioned Dwayne Sutton playing the five spot?  The team closely resembling the one that struggled so many times last season. Just big enough, strong enough and fast enough to avoid a second half letdown.

Nothing against Bellarmine, which is going to be a dominant team during its last season in Division 2 basketball. If Louisville is to live up to its pre-season billing, in the top five in numerous polls, the healing and the fulfilling of potential has to begin soon.

Of the highly-regarded freshman class, only Samuell Williamson started, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds in 34 minutes.  Josh Nickelberry, Jae’Lyn Withers, Quin Slazinski and Aiden Igihon were held scoreless in their collective 20 minutes.

Jordan Nwora was there every time he was needed, with a better overall game, scoring a game-high 28 points, with five assists, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Expanding his game to include other elements necessary for UofL’s success this season.

Sutton pretty convincing in the “big man” role, coming through with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Typical of Sutton, ready to take on any role, eager to make his presence felt, impose his will if necessary.

Going to need some of the big guys for real with the bruising schedule coming up, starting with that Atlantic Coast Conference opener again Miami next week.

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton:

New, improved Jared Swopshire maybe

Exhibition games don’t count for much, if anything.

But if Jared Swopshire’s performance in the University of Louisville’s 72-62 win over Bellarmine is any indication, he may finally be ready to contribute.

During his first two seasons, Swopshire often appeared to be taking a casual approach to the game, holding back, rarely displaying any emotion. Tall and lanky, a good physique, the kind that had some NBA scouts making notes. But the body language always seemed to me to demonstrate a lack of total commitment.

Then, of course, came the groin injury, all the uncertainty about whether he would ever return. Rick Pitino, the way he is, going back and forth on his future.

Swopshire arrived Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center with a new closely-shaven haircut, possibly a hint of a new mindset. He also brought with him an aggressive approach heretofore unseen. The 6-foot-8 junior found the Division II competition to his liking, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Going aggressively to the basket, mixing it up for rebounds for a change.

Maybe the new look had something to do with Rick Pitino’s warning that the train might be leaving the station. Possibly the elation of prevailing over the effects of a serious injury. Or getting a second chance at the game he loves.

Whatever it was, UofL fans liked the Jared Swopshire they saw Thursday night.