Learning curve continues against Seton Hall for David Padgett

Coach David Padgett gets in the ear of Deng Adel (in top photo) during crunch time against Seton Hall. Anas Mahmoud, Malik Williams, V. J. King and Dwayne Sutton (above) reflect the second low in a row (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

This was never going to be easy, thrusting a 32-year-old into the head coach’s role for University of Louisville basketball. No expectations, no aspirations, hurry up, just fill the post vacated by a Hall of Fame coach.

Deng Adel under for a reverse layup for two of his team-leading 20 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

David Padgett had only a couple of days to think about it, never vacillating, taking the job, a shortcut to the big time. The players needed someone, wanted him. A shaky time for the team and the fan base. Much to learn, much to teach, not a lot of time.

Could wind up being the school of hard knocks for everyone concerned, as was evident in UofL’s 79-77 loss to Seton Hall before 19,244 at the KFC Yum! Center. Three starters committing four turnovers apiece, most coming at the worst possible times, and with the trio of guards managing only five assists. 

A return to the days of not so long ago when Louisville struggled to have a presence in the middle. Anas Mahmoud, still a seven-foot lightweight after adding 20 pounds in four years, collecting two fouls before breaking a sweat Unable to collect a rebound, make an assist or score a point in 20 minutes.

Dwayne Sutton collecting nine points and three rebounds in 20 minutes of playing time (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Ray Spalding, still struggling with his awkwardness, not much of a factor in the paint or on the boards, managing two points and four rebounds, respectively. Needs to bring all that progress he was said to be making in practice on game days.

Deng Adel, looking good in the scoring column, with 20 points while making seven of 12 field goal attempts and six of six free throws. But having a hard time finding open teammates, especially with the game on the line. Possibly not trusting himself or his teammates at times, making questionable decisions, resulting in blown opportunities.

Quentin Snider, playing better at home than he did at Purdue, having one of his better games of the season. Only to have it go sour for him and be remembered for that errant jump shot in the closing seconds. 

Snider would collect a scant two assists and UofL would be credited with only eight of them for the game, indicating there may be too much one-on-one action and too little passing.  Not much looking for teammates or players not moving without the ball. 

V. J. King still not able to stop anybody on the defensive end or find people around under the basket but contributing 14 points.

Newcomers Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton scoring 10 and 8 points, respectively, but with only one assist between them. 

Padgett, meanwhile, giving his players the benefit of any doubts, suggesting they will get better. Not getting in any faces, not embarrassing anyone during timeouts, rarely raising his voice, being respectful with officials, always the gentleman for now.

He’s new, taking a different tact, relating to a new generation of players in a different way than his predecessors. Going to be interesting to see if his well-mannered approach is successful.  Could be he may have to resort to some more less subtle ways of communicating if things don’t start clicking soon.

Padgett will eventually be successful. But there may be some steep learning curves. Definitely no shortcuts.

Deng Adel resists early out, chooses to get better at UofL

Deng Adel won’t be joining Donovan Mitchell in the NBA draft, at least not this year (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

He could have gone. Some around him probably think he should have. Second thoughts may be inevitable. 

But Deng Adel won’t be entering his name in the National Basketball Association draft this season. He will be showcasing his considerable skills with the University of Louisville next season.

Not succumbing to the seduction of some easy money, not taking the bait, not disappearing into obscurity like so many before him. Listening, heeding the advice of knowledgeable people who know he can do much better.

Go back to school, go play for Rick Pitino, go get better and, barring injury, move yourself into position to be a lottery pick, one of the top 14 players to be named, in the 2018 NBA draft.

Good for Deng Adel. Good for the University of Louisville.

Adel averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds last season, starting 30 games as a sophomore. He finished the campaign strong, the leading scorer in the final six games, averaging 16.3 points.

As Adel goes, so will go Louisville basketball during the 2017-18 season. He should be highly motivated, ready to take his game to another level. A decision that could reap enormous benefits for his future livelihood.

 

Snider, Mathiang and Deng back but Louisville defense tardy

Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang were back but the offense was sputtering before a late surge for the Unverrsity of Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

No concern the game does not begin well, Miami jumping out to an 8-0 lead over the University of Louisville. Not to worry, UofL almost back at full strength, with Quentin Snider back, along with Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel. Happy days are here again.

Fortunately for UofL, Jaylen Johnson was around to get the “lunch-pail”buckets, per Rick Pitino (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

That was exactly the kind of mentality that concerned Coach Rick Pitino before the game. “I was afraid of that,” he said afterwards. “We had been overachieving so much. Ninety-five to ninety percent of teams lose this game. Miami was the better basketball team, they totally outplayed us in every phase of the game.”

Indeed. The Hurricanes seemed to be scoring almost at will in the first half. “We let them drive by us on straight-line drives,” added the coach. “We didn’t rebound well, we didn’t shoot well and we didn’t pass well.”

Yet Pitino said the game may have been the best of the year character-wise. “When the game was on the line, we did all of the above,” he said. “But we’ve still got a lot of work to do on defense.”

Louisville emerged the 71-66 winner after scoring 13 straight points in the second half. The crushing blow, a three-point dagger followed by a free throw from Adel at the 4:22 mark, giving his team a six-point lead and its largest in the game. Adel would make two out of three 3-point attempts, sharing scoring honors with Donovan Mitchell with 18 points.

Snider would need a little time to get going after missing six games with a hip injury. He would miss all three of his shots in the first half, but hit three of five attempts in the second — including a crucial 3-pointer with 41 seconds remaining.

Jaylen Johnson sometimes missing the easy shots but making the impossible ones, delivering what Pitino called a “lunch-pail” effort with 10 points, eight rebounds, a block and a couple of steals. 

Mathiang picking up the slack thankfully as Anas Mahmoud regresses. Anas with three turnovers, zero points and a couple of rebounds while Mangok is collecting seven points and eight rebounds — and three out of four free throw attempts.

The win improves UofL record to 20-5 overall, and 8-4 in the conference, tied for second place before the evening games. Syracuse next, at Syracuse on Monday.

Deng Adel shows aggressive streak, Louisville coasts past Boston College

Another yawner, the University of Louisville basketball team blowing out still another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Boston College the latest victim by a score of 90-67.

Deng Adel discovers aggressive streak against Boston College.

Far too easy of late, resembling some of the winning streaks in the Metro and Conference USA days. Wins are not supposed to come this easily in the ACC. Treasuring each one, however, knowing that there will be some major obstacles straight ahead.

What kept the game interesting was the performance of Deng Adel who seemed to be making up for lost time, scoring in every way possible, living up to the promise expected of him. He would share game scoring honors with Donovan Mitchell with 19 points each.

Signs of a newfound shooting touch from the sophomore forward from Australia.  No reluctance, going for it but playing within the system, connecting on seven of 10 field goal attempts, including three of four 3-point shots, and two of two at the free throw line.

“Coach said we needed to step up,” said Adel afterwards. “He told me to be aggressive so that’s what we did.”

Mitchell, meanwhile, was quietly having a very efficient game himself, dishing out four assists, making four rebounds and three steals. He was making seven of 10 field goal attempts as well, including two 3-pointers, and all three of his free throws.

Mangok Mathiang getting in on the act, scoring 16 points on seven of 11 shot attempts. And, yes, two of two free throw attempts.

One never knows which UofL player is going to have a break out game. Don’t be surprised when freshman V. J. King does. He hasn’t been scoring much but when he does he makes it look easy, winding up with 11 points against Boston College.

 Louisville travels to Virginia on Monday for a crucial game.. The Cardinals and Cavaliers, with 7-3 conference marks, are tied with Florida State for second place in the ACC. North Carolina is first with an 8-2 conference record.

No danger of anyone nodding off in that one. The odds of another runaway are remote.

Deng Adel answers bell, Louisville downs Pitt again


Dang, that Deng is good.

Rick Pitino has been telling anyone who will listen that Deng Adel is going to be a great basketball player at the University of Louisville. He’s said that about a lot of players over the years, and they rarely disappoint him.

Adel actually started the first two games this season, remember? Injured a knee early on, had to sit out a month, work his way back into shape, take his turn on the bench, play sparingly in January, and become a contributor in late February.

Pitino has been known to throw seldom-used players into critical situations at the most unexpected moments. Deng saw four minutes of action against Notre Dame and four minutes against Syracuse. Didn’t score in either of those games, but Pitino was watching, making mental notes.

Deng began growing up in the win over Duke, getting 28 minutes of playing time, pulling down five rebounds, making two assists and scoring 12 points.

Pitino apparently convinced, drawing a starting assignment against Pittsburgh, Deng making the coach a genius. Wowing his teammates at the 7:38 mark, Chinanu Onuaku screaming, after an awe-inspiring one-hand dunk serving notice that the UofL drought was over. Following that up with a 3-pointer and a layup less than two minutes later.

Deng finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds, and an assist, along with a new level of respect from the head coach, his teammates and fans. Raising expectations in Louisville’s 67-60 win over Pittsburgh. Giving them something to look forward the final three games this year, and three more seasons for the freshman.

David Levitch also is familiar with getting thrust into the spotlight, prime time playing time, inserted midway through the first half. He would respond with eight points, including two 3-pointers, one of them a dagger at the 2:38 mark, giving UofL a three-point lead.

As is one Matz Stockman, the backup, backup seven-footer, who keeps looking more respectable all the time, another one of those guys Pitino says is really going to be good. Just three rebounds, two points and a block in this one but his time is coming as well.