BOZICH | Four thoughts on Louisville's scrimmage through eyes of 2 coaches
Louisville played its final Red/White scrimmage Friday night. How did the Cards look. Rick Bozich shares the thoughts of two coaches who were courtside at the KFC Yum! Center.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Scrimmages are practice with several thousand people watching. The best way to watch practice is sitting with a coach. Coaches notice more than the ball snapping through the net.
I parked between two coaches Friday night at the KFC Yum! Center for the University of Louisville’s final Red vs. White Scrimmage. Before and after the game, interim head coach David Padgett thanked the 8,276 fans for ignoring the chilly rain to watch his first team, which was picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference this week.
Some necessary details: The White team, featuring the likely veteran starting lineup of Quentin Snider, Anas Mahmoud, V.J. King, Deng Adel and Raymond Spalding, dominated the Red squad, that featured mainly freshmen, 96-64, in a game played in eight-minute quarters.
Adel led the winners with 21 points although King had 20 points and 10 rebounds while Snider had 16 points and 13 assists. Malik Williams led the White with 21 points and 11 boards with Jordan Nwora contributing 13 points.
Here are Four Thoughts on the Cards formed after watching with two coaches.
1. The First Five Will Be Fine
Padgett played with on U of L teams with Terrence Williams, Taquan Dean, Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and Earl Clark. He’s been with the Cardinals the last three seasons when they have finished in the top four in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Padgett said this about his U of L team after the scrimmage: “I don’t think we’ve ever had this much talent collectively when I’ve been here.”
One coach I sat with agreed. The other did not.
“I wouldn’t be afraid to play with that starting five against any team in the country,” one former coach said. “I’d take my chances with those guys.
“They can run. They can drive. They can shoot. They share the ball. It’s a nice group.”
Snider looked relaxed directing the team, forcing nothing while shooting the ball with confidence. King played in attack mode, settling for only a pair of three-point shots in his 13 attempts.
Mahmoud blocked seven shots without committing a foul. He understands how to use the glass and has improved footwork. Spalding looked comfortable on the perimeter or at the rim, outrunning other big men from end to end. Adel remains the most complete player in the group.
2. Depth Will Take Time
This game was decided after about five minutes. The veteran group led 7-0, 13-4, 23-6 and then 26-8 after the first eight minutes. The White team outscored the Red in every quarter but the fourth.
“They have a solid five,” one coach said. “But you need eight. One extra guy who can play inside. One who can play outside and one who can play either way. I don’t know who those three guys will be yet.”
“The young guys are going to need more time to learn how to play the game, but that’s normal,” the other coach said.
“If you watched the veteran guys you saw the extra pass and guys shooting the ball from places where they could make shots. The younger guys didn’t do that. One pass and shot. Some of them think they can make a shot from anywhere. That won’t work, especially on the road.”
Padgett agreed that the older guys did a better job of sharing the basketball and attacking. That is what older guys are supposed to do. Padgett said he is eager to watch how a younger player like freshman point guard Darius Perry will perform while teamed with four veterans Monday night when U of L plays its first exhibition against visiting Kentucky Wesleyan.
3. More Intensity Needed?
Intensity was one of Rick Pitino’s calling cards. Stomping. Snarling. Pacing. That is not one of Padgett’s calling cards. He is intense without being outwardly emotional. It worked great for him as a player.
Will it work as a coach?
Stay tuned. He has to remain true to his personality.
Padgett sat for most of the scrimmage. Word is that he’s barked corrections at his guys during practice but on the bench Friday night Padgett did more observing than loud correcting.
One coach said that Padgett will have to make the necessary transition from an assistant coach accustomed to encouraging guys to a head coach who is consistently demanding more, more, more – especially from the freshmen.
No matter how many times you advise freshmen that this is not high school basketball, you’d better expect to tell them one again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.
Louisville invited former coaches and players to practice Thursday. More than 80 visitors attended. One visitor said that after the practice, he pulled Padgett aside and told him this:
“There isn’t practice speed and game speed. There’s only one speed – full speed. If you get used to doing too many things at practice speed, you’re going to get yourself beat. You always have to go game speed. That’s how you get better.”
4. More Post, Less Perimeter From the Young Guys
Fun scrimmage stat: The older guys took less than a third of their attempts from distance and shot 60 percent. Overall, all five starters made better than half of their field goal attempts.
Not so for the Red team. The younger players launched nearly 41 percent of their shots from the three-point line – and they made only 7 of 27 (25.9 percent).
Williams impressed Padgett, more with his 11 rebounds than the 21 points. Like most of the Red team, Williams was in love with the three-point shot, taking 10 of his 17 attempts from distance. Of Nwora’s 16 shots, seven were three-pointers.
Williams is 6 feet 11. Nwora is a study 6-7 and 215. Louisville will need them to do more work inside.
“Again, that’s part of growing up,” one coach said. “In high school, you can get away with that. In the ACC, you can’t.”
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