1. With and without Gorgui: Rick Pitino took the words right out of my mouth on how the team was drastically different when Gorgui Dieng went out with two fouls just three minutes into the game. The Cardinals love getting Dieng the ball every trip down the floor, he makes good things happen one way or another. When he was sidelined with two fouls, there was more of a hesitation. The guards have to become more comfortable getting Zach Price, Stephan Van Treese and Montrezl Harrell the ball, just like they do with Dieng. With that said, the Cardinals struggled in the first half without Dieng. When he came back in, the offense opened up and started to flow better. First off, Dieng needs to stay out of foul troubles. But if he does have to sit for an extended period of time, the Cardinals should attack more. It was the first time, so they'll get better at it.
2. Outrebounded by the Jaspers: Peyton Siva said early in the year that he told his three big men if the Cardinals get outrebounded they "are going to fight." Well, Bellarmine outrebouned the Cardinals in the final exhibition game and it happened again against Manhattan. The Jaspers won the battle 37-33. Pitino put a lot of blame on the guards, who he says are leaking out and down the floor. Yes, that's true. But three boards from Dieng and four from Harrell is not going to cut it. Chane Behanan did snag nine and in eight minutes, reserve Stephan Van Treese had five. It's an area the team must improve on.
3. Defense is going to be scary good: The Cardinals were good on defense last season, but this team could be even better. Harrell is doing a nice job on the press, while Russ Smith and Peyton Siva are "nightmares to deal with," according to Manhattan coach Steve Masiello. The Cards don't drop off at all on the press with reserves. Kevin Ware is solid and very active, while Behanan had three steals and Hancock is so heady and steady. The Cardinals had 16 steals in the game and I really like the direction this team is headed on defense and Pitino was quick to point out the team played strictly man-to-man defense. He'll work some zone in but you likely won't see that for a few weeks.
4. Cards take 30 three-point field goals: Louisville made a total of four three-pointers in two exhibition games and had a stretch of 22 misses in a row. So, obviously field-goal shooting is expected to be a weakness. Against the Jaspers, U of L made 8 of 30 from three-point range. Most of those shots were open and very good looks, they just didn't' go down. I doubt we'll see the Cards take 30 in a game very often and the coaches are hoping they can get eight makes. Pitino was on Luke Hancock to be more of a Russ Smith mentality and take the shots when there. Hancock passed up a few open looks. But Smith hit 4 three's, Hancock added two and Kevin Ware and Wayne Blackshear hit one apiece. If the Cards can just make a few a game it will open things up for what they really want to do, get after it.
5. A few leftover observations: Peyton Siva again looked like the best player on the floor with a 10-point, 10-assist effort. He did have five turnovers but did a great job managing the game. . . . The Cardinals had 20 more field-goal attempts than Manhattan and turned the Jaspers over 27 times, which marks the most turnovers forced in a game since 30 against Morehead State in 2004. . . . A great ratio for U of L was 19 assists for the 28 field goals, including assists by seven different players. . . . Gorgui Dieng did only have one blocked shot, but he's blocked a shot in 62 of his 70 games at U of L. . . . . Sophomore Zach Price was the first reserve off the bench this season for the Cardinals, replacing Dieng who picked up two fouls. . . . Eight players saw at least 16 minutes of action.