Floyd Street Tribune: Observations from a Louisville basketball practice
Inside: Noah Locke stands out, Malik Williams has some buzz, the freshmen impress and more thoughts from a few hours of hoops and conversation at the Kueber Center.
Thanks for reading The Floyd Street Tribune! Missed the previous newsletters? That’s OK. With a paid subscription, you can access all of ‘em here. Last week, we discussed the importance of Kaleb Glenn’s commitment and the 2023 class for Louisville.
After a summer of wondering what the new Louisville looks like, I made the trip to Floyd Street to watch a preseason practice on Wednesday. Yes, Chris Mack was there, for all the message board junkies who’d like to know. He also led a fast-paced, intense Louisville practice, and that is probably my biggest takeaway from the two hours or so inside the Kueber Center.
As my colleague Matt McGavic noted in his Louisville Report practice notes from last week, everything is done at pace. It was a max effort session. This isn’t to diminish the practices I witnessed in previous years, but there was just a different bite — a tenacity and intensity — to the practice.
If Louisville wants to get back to winning ways and competing in the highest tier in the ACC, that intensity should help get there. Not everyone was available for a full practice on Wednesday, but because of the depth Mack and his staff built through recruiting and the transfer portal, the Cards still went full-bore with enough bodies. That wouldn’t have been the case last season.
As a group, Louisville’s players have impressed the staff, and even athletics department staffers who see them less often, with their camaraderie and chemistry. But you can also pick up on the growing desire to play against another opponent, manifested by some trash talk and intense moments on Wednesday. That competitive spirit is noticeable.
You can certainly understand, from a basketball and interpersonal communication standpoint, how Kahil Fennell and Ross McMains fit on the staff. Like Mack and Mike Pegues, they are in constant communication through practice, and they command the attention of the players. At one point, McMains specifically pointed out why catching a pass in one spot on the floor helped better facilitate a possession as opposed to catching the ball elsewhere, and he made sure the young player he was addressing kept eye contact for the explanation. Fennell held a similar one-on-one conversation a few drills later with one of the guards. The players listen to them.