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.