LOUISVILLE – The lineups were a little unorthodox, the combinations not what most fans would expect in a regular-season game.
But Wednesday’s basketball game at Freedom Hall was an exhibition – the last time Louisville coach Rick Pitino could see his players in a game that doesn’t count in the standings.
The pre-game notes listed Louisville’s starting lineup - three of the starters were correct. The other two, who started last week against Georgetown College, were replaced.
There were three-guard lineups, big men Terrence Jennings and Samardo Samuels on the court at the same time (something Pitino said pre-season that he wouldn’t do), and reserves Chris Brickley and Stephan Van Treese seeing their first playing time of the season.
And it all worked out for the Cardinals, who defeated Bellarmine University 88-65. Bellarmine, which won a school record 26 games last year, has been tabbed as the nation’s pre-season No. 1 NCAA Div. II team by two publications.
Louisville did all of its damage without its patented press.
“I wanted Scotty (Davenport) to get something out of it, and we wanted to get something out of it,” Pitino said about not pressing Belllarmine, coached by former U of L assistant Scott Davenport. “That’s what friends and exhibitions are for.”
The Cardinals’ starting lineup included three guards - seniors Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith and junior Preston Knowles, along with Samuels and Jennings.
Samuels finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, 10 on the offensive end.
Knowles, who came off the bench against Georgetown, finished with 15 points.
Senior Reginald Delk and sophomore Jared Swopshire, who both started against Georgetown but were out of the starting lineup this time around, each played 10 minutes Wednesday.
“I always knew they could play together,” Pitino said of his three-guard lineup, “and I knew we weren’t going to press. We got a chance to work on some things we needed to work on.”
What the fans got was a chance to see freshman Peyton Siva play 15 minutes, and the 6-foot point guard didn’t disappoint.
He took to the air for one of the Cardinals’ two blocked shots in the game, and with 10:06 left in the game Siva grabbed a missed layup by Smith and threw down a reverse dunk for a 63-45 lead.
Siva, who was highly recruited out of Seattle, Wash., hasn’t started either exhibition game, but that doesn’t bother him.
“My role is to come off the bench and give us energy,” he said. “I have two great guards in front of me.”
The Cardinals shot 50 percent for the game, but they turned the ball over 15 times and had 13 assists. They also had 10 steals.
“We’re getting better,” Siva said, “but we have a lot of things to work on.”
Louisville has 13 days to do that before playing its season opener against Arkansas Nov. 17 in St. Louis in the Hall of Fame Showcase.