Earliest opening game ever, presumably cutting short preparation time for fitting all pieces of the puzzle. Fixing things on the run.
Fortunately for the University for Louisville, unfortunately for Manhattan College, the combination of Hurricane Sandy and The Super Storm left Manhattan with even less time to get ready. The visitors were also minus their leading scorer.
The awkward ebb and flow of the basketball game, of course, could also have been attributed to the fact that Rick Pitino and Steve Masiello knew exactly what the other team was going to do in advance. Manhattan was simply outmanned.
The result: Louisville 79, Manhattan 51.
One more game, Samford, and 11 days between now and the Battle 4 Atlantis to work out some obvious kinks, with the objective of some resembling the Louisville team that is picked among the top three teams in the nation. The talent is there, Rick Pitino needs more time to oil the engine.
No problem with defense, at least not Sunday, forcing Manhattan into 27 turnovers. Size, quickness, long arms, commitment and Pitino reinforcing his emphasis with every substitution and timeout.
Russ Smith has bought into the idea, picking five steals to go with his four of 13 three-point attempts and those game-leading 23 points. Boundless energy on both ends of the court.
Luke Hancock is going to keep throwing up three-point shots because Pitino will demand it. He will eventually improve on his 2 for 9 accuracy because his coach has confidence in him and his team needs them.
Peyton Siva seems to be going out of his way not to shoot these days, working on being the perfect point guard. He was working on his three-point shot during the summer, every day in the gym. Coming soon.
Gorgui Dieng is waiting for the exhibition-style games to get behind him so he can show how much progress he’s made, in addition to connecting on those elbow shots.
Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell buy into the defense first philosophy, but these are two individuals banking on offense to get them where they want to go, and they believe Pitino can take them there.