Increasingly one gets the feeling that this season is one of preparation for seasons to come. Going chin to chin with the looks-deprived, muscle-bound, blue collars at Pittsburgh was a major challenge for this University of Louisville basketball team.
Leading most of the game, mixing it up, taking the blows, falling short, but learning what it takes for a team to win in this rugged conference. Not succeeding but taking note, even if grudgingly.
Initiation time for freshmen and sophomores on the road in the Big East gauntlet.
- Senior Edgar Sosa missing three straight free throws when they count the most. From that point on, just a matter of time. Senior Jerry Smith fouling a player who has hit between 45 and 50 straight free throws to the line for two automatics, sending the game into overtime. Senior Reginald Delk is a phantom player, out of sight until he hits a shot or commits a foul.
- Samardo Samuels benefiting from lessons learned and getting the ball more often, no longer intimidated by opposing brutes or fearful of hurting someone. He’s more aggressive, wanting the ball, not dribbling, taking it to the basket, earning every one of those 25 points the right way.
- Preston Knowles, or Preston! as he is known by some, plays with intensity and confidence. But most of all he wants to win. He knows no other way. Watch and learn, seniors.
- Peyton Siva back to playing tentative, like a typical freshmen, perhaps intimidated or beaten into submission by brutal play in college basketball these days. Never fear. Andre McGee will bring him around.
- Mike Marra will be a shooter. Give it time.
They’re also learning that a building full of jumping Duke wannabes and ugly T-shirts is more like the atmosphere at Chuckie Cheese’s than a college basketball arena. Students having the most visible seats can be a bad thing. Even embarrassing for the institution.