They christened a new arena downtown Tuesday, a new home for University of Louisville basketball. All the formalities, the preliminaries, and the exhibition games out of the way. Finally the real thing.

Butler may wind up being a good team, returning 11 players from the runner-up for the national championship. But the Bulldogs were ill prepared for what awaited them.

A Rick Pitino team unveiling a no-nonsense defense, contesting anything and everything, up and down, side to side on the shiny new hardwood. An offense seemingly built more on desire and opportunity than from pages in a playbook, no one knowing how the points would materialize.

But they would, sometimes from unexpected sources in surprising ways — the two three-point shots from Rakeen Buckles, the assertive dunk from Stephan Van Treese, the fall-aways from Terrence Jennings. Preston Knowles is going to get his points, making just enough baskets to make up for his questionable shots.

The challenge of where the points were going to come from was thankfully remedied by all the fouls the officials were calling, 28 of them on Butler and UofL managing to hit 28 free throws — nine of them by Elisha Justice.

While Louisville managed 88 points against a team that gave up less than 60 per game last season, it was not an impressive offensive performance.

The Butler players would probably agree, wondering what hit them on defense.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

10 thoughts on “Louisville defense buries Butler, launching new basketball arena”
  1. I’m glad the Cards won but I’m trying really hard to not get overly excited about this team. I think this years team will definitely get better as the season goes on. I’ll be honest. I think last years team had a couple head cases that caused the wild swings in play. They beat the #1 ranked team both times in Syracuse, then lose to teams like Cincinnati and California. I don’t see that with this years team. They really look like they are having fun on the court. I was disappointed to see Samardo leave but it may be a blessing in disguise. TJ looked like a lost puppy the last couple of years. The exhibition games and last night, it looks like he is getting the game plan down.

    I have 2 wishes for the rest of this season. Peyton needs to quit trying so hard and settle down. More playing time for Gorgui. 6 minutes last night wasn’t enough.

    One other thing. Steven Van Treese. Wow. I didn’t see him coming on like he has. This guy is going to be good, real good. A 4 year player that if he continues to develop like he has so far this year, the sky’s the limit. He just may play basketball after his time here and get paid really well for it.

  2. For as exciting as this one was in the first half…it was a snore fest in the final twemty minutes. The fouls just kept coming. The shots just kept missing. the turnovers…well, you get the picture. Seems like it took two hours to play the final twenty minutes.

    Still, it is a win over a top 20 ranked opponent by double digits and that is a good thing. Didn’t quite understand the relative lack of playing time for Siva and thought he did a very good job while he was in there…but Rick has his methods and motive and I won’t question them.

    Elishia Justice’s stock just thru the roof, in my humble opinion and on a cold, drizzly, yucky night…the Cards brought sunshine and warmth to the downtown area.

    1. I think Siva’s lack of pt had more to do with foul trouble than anything else. He picked up his fourth with about 9 minutes left in the game. For this team to have success this season he has to stay on the floor. You’ve gotta love the play from Justice tonight. That kid is special.

      This team showed a lot of toughness last night. It seemed pretty clear to me that they relaxed a little after building such a big lead, but even when Butler made a run they never let the outcome of the game come into question. That is great to see from such a young team.

  3. Heck of a job by Rick, as well. You’ve got to look at the challenge he had–a dozen lightly-experienced players at best. There were lots of pieces, but mostly “potential,” as we call it in the pre-season.
    So what does Rick do with it? You saw it last night– kids playing better individually and together than most people dreamed. From here on, he’ll fiddle with the pieces and the timing of who plays together and how long. I’m pumped–GO CARDS!

  4. Totally impressed with the addition by subtraction.

    I loved Sosa, Smith, and Samuels, but this team is gonna be much more fun to watch.

  5. When you say ” Preston Knowles is going to get his points, making just enough baskets to make up for his questionable shots” I question your observation because Knowles shot selection will shoot us out of some games. If it improves significantly it will upgrade to lousy.

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