UK isn’t the only popular team in Kentucky


The most interesting part about Louisville’s 62-54 victory over Bellarmine, the reigning Division II national champs, in an exhibition on Thursday night had nothing to do with the Cardinals.

It wasn’t the 38 minutes that Elisha Justice was forced to play with Peyton Siva sitting out due to a concussion, and it wasn’t the 13 points that Russ Smith scored on a variety of drives to the bucket as the team’s creator. It had nothing to do with the fact that the Cardinals were also missing four reserves due to injury — Wayne Blackshear, Mike Marra, Rakeem Buckles and Stephen Van Treese.

Chane Behanan, the guy Pitino claims is his best freshman since Jamal Mashburn, finished with 14 points and nine boards, but that’s not what I’m going to take from this game. Neither is 14 points and nine boards that Jared Swopshire was able to produce. And while playing against a team that runs a backdoor-heavy, Princeton-style offense was important — “Believe it or not, this was as good as any scrimmage because you had to guard back cuts, you had talk on switches, talk on screens,” Pitino said. “You had to guard big on small, off the dribble, you had to talk in transition. So this was as good from learning to talk and communicate from all their screens — it was awesome for us.” — its not what lasts.

Hell, the fact that the gift Pitino gave his former assistant Scott Davenport, now the head coach at Bellarmine, was a pair of ostrich Gucci shoes isn’t the most memorable factoid out of this scrimmage.

Louisville had 20,389 fans show up to the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday night. Seriously. 20,389 people showed up to watch an exhibition basketball game on a school night for the second most popular school in the state.

That’s wild.

They like their hoops in the Commonwealth.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.