It was a great homecoming weekend for the University of Louisville basketball program. The fourth annual Louisville Live event to kick off the season for the men’s and women’s basketball programs was held Friday night at Louisville Slugger Field. Louisville Live was a show! When Kenny Payne took the stage and 40 former U of L players, including U of L greats Pervis Ellison and Darrell Griffith.
It was a re-branding of Louisville basketball and the official start of the Payne era at Louisville before about 10,000 fans. Payne, who played on Louisville’s 1986 NCAA championship team, came out with Jay-Z’s Public Service Announcement playing at the part that says, “allow me to re-introduce myself.” It’s a new time for the UofL program. This is still an uneven team that will have to fight for every victory in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“When I took this job, I said I can’t do it by myself,” Payne told the crowd. “I said I need this community; you showed up today. This is about you guys. You have come to support this program and this women’s program, this is all-inclusive. We are one. We are The Ville.”
On Sunday, fans glanced at the 2022-23 Louisville basketball team for the first time. The Cardinals held their annual preseason Red and White intrasquad scrimmage at the KFC Yum! Center. They played in six five-minute segments with no roster switching up between periods.
El Ellis, Kamari Lands, Ashton Myles-Devore, Zan Payne, J.J. Traynor, and Roosevelt Wheeler were on the red team. Fabio Basili, Sydney Curry, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, Aidan McCool, Hercy Miller, and Devin Ree played for the white team. Jae’Lyn Withers and Mike James didn’t play due to injuries. The red team won 68-51
“Only in this state can you get people to come and support you like this,” head coach Kenny Payne said. “For me, unbelievable. These young men, need it, and they are coming out and supporting them. I just hope that we can keep this going. I hope that regardless of what happens when we have losses, especially losses, the support is there, the cheering on is there.”
The MVP of the scrimmage was El Ellis. The guard played with great pace, demonstrating his explosiveness, finishing ability, and flashy passing. He finished with 16 points on 7-10 shooting, seven assists, and three steals.
Photo Cred: Courier Journal
“I love El’s energy and what he was trying to do,” Payne said. “I know El can score, right? We’ll need El to facilitate. Reject the urge to put the ball in the basket when you get in the lane and give it up. Then watch how it comes back to somewhere else. That’s what I’m trying to get him to do.”
Big man Sydney Curry imposed. The 6-foot-8, 270-pounder led all players in points and rebounds with an 18-point/10-rebound performance. Curry played with in “tenacity to attack the glass,” he still thinks Curry’s defense has room for improvement. Payne won’t like everything he sees on further review. He called the lack of team defense glaring.