October 25, 2011

column: Red dominates in second scrimmage of the season

By Andrew Haddad–

Saturday night’s red-white scrimmage wasn’t about trying to keep a tight game. Rick Pitino wanted to see how badly the red team could outrun, outgun and outplay the white team. Judging by the outcome of the score, its safe to say that they succeeded. The final score was red-105, white-60.

The red team was led by the core group of players that helped Louisville to a No. 4 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament. Senior guard Kyle Kuric and junior guard Peyton Siva led the way for the Cardinals. Kuric posted 19 points, and made 5-9 from deep as he continues to look like the Cardinals’ unquestionable leader on the court.

Siva was his usual self, often leading the fast break and pressure defense that has become so synonymous with Pitino style basketball. He finished 9-16 from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc, and added 11 assists to his line. One pleasant surprise was the performance of sophomore center Gorgui Deng. He was unstoppable on the glass, ripping down 17 rebounds and adding 23 points of his own. Aside from the great line Deng posted, head coach Pitino thinks his biggest achievement may have been staying in the game.

“Gorgui played a very good game staying out of foul trouble. That’s really one thing we’ve been emphasizing for him,” said Pitino.

On paper, another bright spot was freshman forward Chane Behanan. The McDonald’s All-American put up a game high 32 points and made 4 shots from deep.

Aside form the large point output, there wasn’t much else to be seen from Behanan’s performance. No assists, and only six rebounds.

“He didn’t play like a power forward tonight. People will look at his stat sheet and say he played really well – 32 points – but this was probably the weakest he’s played, no offensive rebounds no assists, played on the perimeter too much, played like he played in high school,” said Pitino.

Pitino emphasized that he wanted to see Behanan use his big body in the post and get to the free throw line, be another person that that Cardinals could utilize down low and take some dependence of Deng. Of course all this is said knowing that Behanan is an amazing talent, very skilled and his future looms bright for the Cardinals.

There were some concerns for the Cardinals, one of those being the lack of depth on the bench right now. As a team, white shot 26 percent from the field, and a measly 11 percent from beyond the arc, whole only tallying nine assists as team.

There was one player that many Cardinals fans were excited to see this year that did not step onto the court: Wayne Blackshear. Blackshear was one of the highest recruited players this past summer, but has been academically ineligible thus far. Pitino expects him to arrive on campus in two weeks, but offered words of caution for fans as to what to expect from Blackshear.

“This young man has not touched a basketball in six months, so he is not going to be the player we saw in high school. He’s going to needs two weeks just to get in shape and another month to get back in basketball form, and we probably won’t see the player we saw in high school until December or January, but he will give us a great dimension.”

Blackshear’s presence would allow Kyle Kuric to get time at the four, a position in which he excelled at last year. Cardinal fans can only wait for now and hope that Blackshear gets back onto the court as quickly as possible.

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Photo: Cody Hibbard/The Louisville Cardinal

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