Louisville Basketball: 1 Second Away From Their 1st Victory

Kenny Payne was a mere second or less away from his first official win as the Cardinals Head Coach. If El Ellis’ layup falls, then the conversations amongst the media and the content of this article are vastly different. However, his layup was waved off and Louisville falls to Appalachian State for their third straight loss by one point to open the season.

The senior point guard finished the game 29 points and three assists, which tied his total against Wright State. His ability to get to the basket and finish at the rim is effortless. It is clear as the season continues to unfold that the Louisville offense goes as Ellis goes.

With his 6-foot-3 frame, he is able to create mismatches at the point guard position and use his speed to blow by defenders. As the primary ball-handler for the Cardinals, his workload can be extremely daunting. Which is why the emergence of Hercy Miller is crucial for Kenny Payne’s squad.

Miller recorded the most playable minutes of his Louisville career thus far. Against Bellarmine, he only recorded three total minutes. Against Wright State, he recorded 11 total minutes, and tonight against Appalachian State he recorded 24 minutes.

Nov 15, 2022; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Hercy Miller (15) shoots against Appalachian State Mountaineers guard Terence Harcum (23) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Appalachian State defeated Louisville 61-60. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The son of well-known hip-hop artist Master P, Miller was touted as a ‘diamond in the rough‘ amidst his arrival to Louisville. He is quickly proving he is a reliable ball handler with a capable three-point shot. In the past two games he has recorded two field goals and both of them were threes from the corner.

In Miller’s 24 minutes, he only recorded one turnover, while El Ellis recorded five turnovers. Turnovers were the biggest hurt to Louisville’s success against the Mountaineers because Appalachian State only recorded 7 turnovers as a team while Louisville recorded 18 as a team.

Taking care of the ball is essential to being a legit basketball team. 18 team turnovers is their second highest total behind their loss to the Wright State Raiders (19). In their season opener against Bellarmine, Louisville recorded 13 turnovers.

A trend is starting to take root in this team and not the trend that any coach would want. This trend needs to cease and be replaced by a trending rebound advantage. Sophomore Brandon Huntley-Hatfield made his presence known on the boards recording 10 rebounds to go along with his 12 points to solidify his first double-double of the season.

Jae’Lyn Withers, the team’s leading scorer against Bellarmine and the team’s second leading scorer against Wright State, found himself in foul trouble all night playing only 10 minutes and finishing with 0 points. Had Withers not fouled out, the outcome of this game could have been different.

The junior forward presents mismatches against opposing defenders and makes driving to the basket look easy. He also has a reliable jumpshot from behind the arc and will only continue to improve as the season progresses.

An 0-3 start is certainly not the record Kenny Payne wanted to open the season with, but that is where the Cardinals currently stand. As disappointing as this record is, the athletes on the roster have fought hard in all three games and deserve credit for their efforts.

The Louisville program is very clearly in a rebuilding year as Coach Payne looks to recoup recruiting assets that were driven away amidst the lingering IARP ruling for five years over the program. Kenny Payne bleeds Louisville red and all he needs is time to turn this program around.

Louisville’s next game is against #9 Arkansas in Hawaii with tip-off set for 5 PM.