Back in the early eighties, there was a program that all but dominated a decade of college basketball with its relentless defense, breakneck speed, incredible unselfishness and unbridled enthusiasm.
That’s what comes to mind watching this Louisville team dominate an exceptional UConn team. With phenomenal passing, play making, stealing, dunking and dazzle-do, the kind of stuff that raises one out of one’s seat, evoking spontaneous displays of emotion and disbelief, whether one is on the couch or on the third level of the KFC Yum! Center.
Players knowing the moment, some turning in the best performances in their college lives, introducing their new basketball home to echoes of Louisville greatness.
- Peyton Siva growing in confidence game by game, quickly becoming the leader, knowing what Rick Pitino wants and expects, giving it his all and delivering most of the time. The game is slowing down and he is picking up speed, especially when he’s not overworked.
- Preston Knowles knowing when to follow, setting up his teammates, finding the open people, turning in seven assists.
- Gorgui Dieng getting the hang of things, being where he needs to be, a Louisville big man playing like a big man, ramming the ball through the cylinder, hauling in 12 rebounds — few bounce backs, most hard earned and well deserved. He’s going to be a monster before he’s done, folks.
- Chris Smith a force until the end, especially at the end, coming up with steals, finding the open man, finishing layups. Seven rebounds, four of eight shooting, two assists, and still plenty of energy at the end.
- Terrence Jennings getting off to a good start. At one point, it was TJ 6, UConn 0 during the early going. He would all but disappear shortly thereafter, but he helped to set a positive tone. Keep working at it, TJ: got a chance for something special here, for the team, the fans and for you, TJ.
- Rakeem Buckles is a force with so much of the energy so lacking heretofore, finding his shooting eye. Was that a three-pointer from the corner, yes it was. Someone to go toe to toe with the bruisers.
- Stephan Van Treese is the Marty Pulliam of this team, unable to finish but he makes life miserable for whoever gets in front of him. Always good to be wearing people down before he winds up watching the finish. What he lacks in talent, he makes up for with his love of the game.
- Kyle Kuric letting the game come to him, just often enough, those two three-pointers early in the second half quickly dispelling any notions that UConn would be an entirely different team during the closing 20 minutes.
A lot to love about this team. They love to play the game and the fans love watching. Basketball comes first, overwhelming the ridiculous events earlier in the day at a federal court. Already a special season. Can’t wait to see what happens next.