Shaking Off The Nods, 94-75

Who wakes up first, the fans or the players? Had to be the players today because the crowd wasn’t feeding anyone but itself. Excuse me, but there is a basketball game going on.

The lighting effects, the blasting music, the shrill announcing, that stuff is old hat, creating an artificial atmosphere. Rob Hickerson, the aging cheerleader, was doing his thing in the southeast corner but still heads were nodding. The younger crowd, the brashers always criticizing the older crowd, still recovering from the holiday cheer, one ventures.

The slumber continued until Preston Knowles made good on a three-pointer at the 10 minute mark in the second half to put the University of Louisville ahead to stay at 58-56.

Nothing wakes up a Freedom Hall crowd faster than when the Cards start taking an opponent seriously. The fans are sure to follow.

— UofL would be unbeatable with Preston Knowles playing 30 minutes a game. He plays defense with a ferocity not seen around here since the Roger Burkman days. The bonus with Knowles is that he’s also a shooter, claiming 21 points today.

— Terrence Williams not quite himself yet, still recovering from the knee operation, possibly. And what’s the arm-length bandaging of his left arm? He’s still among the most physically talented players on any floor but he is still working on feeling totally healed maybe.

— Earl Clark just can’t get excited about playing teams without name recognition. Needs to working on his intensity now to be able to manage it in Big East competition.

— Have to keep congratulating Edgar Sosa when he makes good passes like the one to Knowles but we have to look the other way as he mows through people going down the lane.

— Nice to see Samardo Samuels being seen hauling in rebounds, five on the offensive boards (!) and six on the defensive end. Fortunately, he’s a great free throw shooter (9 of 10 today).

— Jarod Swopshire, Terrence Jennings and Reginald Delk need to quit acting like typical freshmen. Talent will get you somewhere.

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The Missing-David Padgett Syndrome

A new attitude has to be permeating University of Louisville basketball practice sessions, now that the worship and adulation has been replaced by realism and disappointment. If the UofL basketball team were the stock market, a depression would have been declared.

The first clues that all was not well should have been picked up when Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa were not introduced as the starting guards. Smith apparently focused on something other than weight and basketball during the summer. Sosa had that familiar look of frustration and an inability to manage a dribble drive.

Based on Sunday’s performance, this team closely resembles last season’s team before David Padgett returned to the lineup. Samardo Samuels is playing, to be sure, but at least one opposing coach has figured out how to stop Padgett’s replacement. Other coaches will be applying the same measures to stop Samuels.

Padgett bequeathed his ability to manage the floor and find open shooters to Terrence Williams but T-will apparently left it on the bus.

Excluding Samuels with 36 minutes in the game, the other additions to the active roster accumulated only 11 minutes of playing time — Reginald Delk had five, Terrence Jennings had three, Jarod Swopshire had two, and George Goode had one.

Coach Rick Pitino’s apology is accepted. This team has to be reshaped and reinvented. The tools are available but he’s got a lot of work to do. David Padgett is not walking through that door.