It is still way too early to tell how good this Louisville team can be, but if Chinanu Onuaku’s play in the first two games are any indication, then the Cardinals could be in store for a good season. Onuaku scored a career-high 18 points in the Cardinals’ 87 – 52 win against an overmatched Hartford team. He also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
Onuaku’s offensive game has been in work in progress, but we may have finally seen the silver lining in it. Louisville made a concerted effort to get the ball inside to Onuaku and it worked out very well early on against Hartford. U of L led 19 – 14 with 12 of the Cardinals’ points coming on an assortment of low post moves by Onuaku.
Assistant Coach Ralph Willard filled in for Coach Rick Pitino in the postgame and had this to say about Onuaku, “He’s worked extremely hard. He’s doing a lot of little things. His screens have gotten a lot better. His rebounding, in terms of pursuing the basketball has gotten a lot better. Obviously his offensive moves are getting better and will continue to get better as he gains more and more confidence. His attitude has been great. Coach made a point after the last game that his attitude has been off the charts in terms of his cheering for his teammates, rooting his teammates on, not worrying about his stats, his time. That’s the kind of attitude you need on a team going forward into the season and certainly into the ACC.”
The Louisville offense seems to run more efficiently when Quentin Snider is on the floor. Snider once again had a strong outing. Snider scored nine points and dished out six assists in 25 minutes of action off of the bench. Pitino has always said it doesn’t matter who starts, but if Snider continues playing this well he may have to reconsider bringing him off of the bench.
Damion Lee scored 18 for the Cardinals. Trey Lewis was the other U of L player in double figures finishing with 11 points.
This Louisville team could be a much better offensive team than last season. The Cardinals shot 50.8 percent against Hartford. This followed their first game in which they made 53.6 percent of their field goal attempts.
Willard spoke about the improvement on offense saying, “I think what I attribute it to is guys learning to play with each other. Because everybody is playing totally different roles than what they did last year. Quentin Snider is probably the closest, obviously because he played the point at the end of the season last year. But they are learning to play with each other.”
Louisville’s staple under Pitino has been its defense. Hartford wasn’t able to get anything going against a suffocating Louisville defense. The Hawks shot only 32.6 percent from the field and made only 3 of their 16 three point attempts. They were out rebounded 44 – 26.
The Hawks were led by the guy with the best name in college basketball, Pancake Thomas. Thomas was Harford’s only double figure scorer finishing with 20 points.
Louisville returns to the KFC Yum Center this Saturday to take on the North Florida Ospreys.