A mad rush just before tipoff with 85% of approximately 10,000 fans waiting until the last minute to get to their seats. Welcome to the 2011 Derby Festival Classic, featuring many of tomorrow’s super stars.

The crowd dominated by University of Louisville fans, wanting to get acquainted with Angel Nunez, Chane Behanan and Zach Price who will join Wayne Blackshear in U of L’s 2011 class. Many Indiana University followers, checking out Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington. A sprinkling of University of Kentucky partisans, surprising considering no UK signees are playing, probably just needing a fix.

Angel Nunez
Angel Nunez

Blackshear, with his injured shoulder, not available. But the performances of three future teammates indicating they fill some of the gaps that were omnipresent last season. Team cohesiveness will not be a problem; they will blend in well.

  • Angel Nunez is the least heralded member of the 2011 class but expect to see him early and often. He’s strong and fluid, always into the game, has a long wing span, is able to create his own shots, has good range and a nice looking  rainbow for a three-point shot. He also has a presence about him bespeaking leadership on the court. His development will be on a relatively short curve.
  • Chane Behanan will be a dominating force at some point, seeing plenty of action next season simply because of his bulk. He’s not reticent when it comes to rebounding, going over, around, underneath. He has good hands and inspires confidence with his shot, although not consistently on target. Nice post moves but he’s a little slow, needing to get in better shape. The dribble drive is not for him. Rick Pitino will probably be counseling him soon on the importance of maintaining the proper muscle-to-body fat ratio.
  • Zach Price was surprisingly agile on defense, keeping Behanan in check during two-on-two drills Thursday during the Night of the Future Stars. He also has no reluctance in fighting through shoulders and elbows for rebounds. He has good hands, wants the ball, and knows what to do with it when he gets it. Which will be nice for a change.

The numbers: Nunez: 16 points, five rebounds.  Chane Behanan: 11 points, 11 rebounds. Price: six points, 10 rebounds.

This incoming class is going to provide some of the balance that has been missing for almost a decade and long before Pitino arrived at Louisville. He has finally gotten the recruiting thing done, delivering the kind of team U of L fans have been expecting. If he keeps everybody healthy, the 2011 season should be a good one, possibly even one of those special ones.

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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.