UofL’s Mike James (0) keeps close tabs on Simmons’ Franklin Simpson in the first exhibition game of teh season (Mike DeZarn photos).

This writer so confused, he might make a bunch of turnovers in this post. So many conflicting emotions following a mere exhibition game. The University of Louisville basketball team’s 91-50 e Simmons College so puzzling. Lots of bad stuff early, followed by a sizzling run midway through the game, and many bewildered expression in the stands.

The Cardinals come onto the court and quicky turn the ball over three straight times. Was this team ready to play? Maybe, but the first 10 minutes looked like a Chinese fire drill. 

Poor judgement. Poor passing (selfishness). This team is far from being a cohesive unit. The players dribble too much, wasting time, the shot clock runs down and they inevitably force something inside or take a three that has little chance of going in. UofL turned the ball 22 times, with 13 in the first half.

“The message was we have to cut down on turnovers,” said freshman Dennis Evans. “We have to take care of the ball and make sure to run things correctly.” 

The good news is this club seems to play harder than last year’s 4-28 albatross. The second-half was much better than the first 10 minutes of the game.

The Cards do have some shooters. Evans, 7-foot-1, string bean, could be a an inside force. He had nine points, nine rebounds. Curtis Williams led all scorers with 15 points on five of six shooting and three of four threes. Mike James had good moments 13 points and seven rebounds. Tre White added 12 points and four rebounds. 

As a team the Cards shot 53.6 percent from the floor and made eight of 19 three-point attempts.

Skyy Clark and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield made poor decisions and their motors were stuck in idle. Clark hunts shots like Elmer Fudd hunts rabbits. He may shoot at anytime.

Freshman Kaleb Glenn, who attended Male and an Indiana prep school, may have some potential. He scored nine points with three rebounds.

Payne platooned players. As a group, the newcomers combined for 38 points on 14 of 20 shooting from the field.

“I thought that game was one that we could build on, a game that we needed to identify and evaluate what guys can comprehend which concepts,”Payne said. “But at the end of the day, I needed to know who I can count on to fight. Who can I count on to be disciplined? Who can I count on to know the plays and execute … The great thing is I can identify who is who and who can help us win games.”

He was most pleased with a 19-0 run near end the first half helped UofL jump out to a 44-16 halftime advantage. “You see at the end of the half when we are desperate what we can do, defensively,” said Payne.

A really mixed bag for UofL in its 2023 introduction. Will this be the team that exploded for a 19-0 run or the one that had 13 turnovers in the first half? Too soon to tell with only three weeks of practice behind them. The only thing for certain is the program will be under a microscope all season long.

Dennis Evans brings his 7-foot-1 frame to Louisville’s offense this season (Mike DeZarn photo).
Tony Branch, a guard on UofL’s 1980 championship team, was back as coach at Simmons College (Mike DeZarn photo).
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By Ed Peak

Ed Peak has covered UofL sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.

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