LOUISVILLE – It’s only been two games, but Vance Hall’s basketball career at Bellarmine University is off to a good start.
Bellarmine played Louisville Wednesday night in an exhibition game at the KFC Yum! Center with the second-ranked Cardinals winning 65-46.
Hall, a 2010 Franklin County graduate, was held scoreless in the first half, but he finished as the Knights’ second-leading scorer with 13 points as Bellarmine kept Louisville from running away with the game.
Hall signed with Wright State coming out of high school and stayed there two years before transferring to Bellarmine after last season. He’s immediately eligible because he transferred from an NCAA Div. I team to an NCAA Div. II team.
“I love it here at Bellarmine,” Hall said after Wednesday’s game. “This is a great group of guys. It’s been a good transition from Wright State to Bellarmine for me.
“Being close to home does help, and Mom and Dad (Kim and Mike Hall) like it a lot.”
As a freshman, Hall played in 25 games at WSU, all as a reserve. Last season he played in 30 games, starting in 17, and averaged 4.5 points.
At Bellarmine he joins a team that has been ranked anywhere from No. 2 to No. 9 in various pre-season Div. II polls. The Knights won the national championship in 2011 and last season reached the national semifinals.
On Wednesday the Knights struggled in the first half, shooting just 19.4 percent and trailing 32-15 at halftime. Louisville won the second half by just two points, 33-31, and Bellarmine outrebounded the Cardinals 43-38.
“We didn’t make a lot of adjustments,” Hall said about the second half. “We came out and did what we’re supposed to do, what we do in practice every day.”
Hall started the game but played just seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
That changed in the second half. He played all but one minute, didn’t pick up another foul, and he went 4-for-6 from the field, including 3-for-4 on 3-pointers, after going 0-for-3 and 0-for-2, respectively, in the first 20 minutes.
“I felt a lot more comfortable in the second half,” Hall said. “Everyone was behind me, and that helped me get going in the second half. I got off to a slow start in the first half.”
He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two assists.
“Coming in I’m trying to be a pure point guard,” Hall said, “running the team and getting the guys to do what we’re supposed to do on the floor.”
Doing that as a newcomer to the program hasn’t been a problem.
“This is a great group of guys like I said,” he reiterated, “and Chris Dowe and Keisten Jones are big leaders on this team, too.”
Dowe finished with a game-high 19 points and team-high 11 rebounds Wednesday. He also led the Knights with 15 points in an exhibition game at Cincinnati Monday. It was the first of Bellarmine’s two exhibition games against Big East top 25 teams.
Hall started against Cincinnati, playing 32 minutes and finishing with nine points, three rebounds and two assists.
“They’re kind of alike,” Hall said of Cincinnati and U of L. “They like to get out in transition, and they’re long and athletic. They’re both good teams, and I think they’ll have a deep run in the tournament.”
The Cardinals shot 47.3 percent Wednesday with three double-digit scorers. Freshman Montrezl Harrell had 16 points in 27 minutes, Gorgui Dieng had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Russ Smith chipped in 11.
Senior point guard Peyton Siva dished out seven assists for the Cardinals, and Luke Hancock had five.
While the Cardinals are the preseason pick to win the Big East Conference, the Knights have been tabbed as the favorite to capture the East Division of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
What does Hall see as the Knights’ biggest strength?
“I have to honestly say it’s shooting,” he said. “We’re a good shooting team, and we play together as a team.”
And past success isn’t a burden for this year’s team.
“I don’t think there’s pressure with these guys,” Hall said. “We have to go out and control what we can control and do the best we can.”
Linda Younkin: (502) 227-4556 EXT 257. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @frankfortsports