Norse show they can hang with the big ones

Give credit where credit is due. Neither Norse basketball team was ran off the floor when opening their new digs, The Bank of Kentucky Center, two weeks ago.

Both basketball teams, despite losing to the University of Louisville Nov. 8, were respectable against a pair of Top 10 teams.

The women’s team didn’t have the height or athleticism to keep up with the Cards.

Fortunately, the Norse aren’t going to face a team in the Great Lakes Valley Conference that runs the floor as well as No. 10 Louisville or another Candyce Bingham, who helped contain Cassie Brannen to five points and one field goal, in 21 minutes.

There won’t be another frontcourt that outscored the Norse 40-12 in the paint.

From the beginning, NKU was over-matched. It wasn’t a good barometer of what potential NKU has in Division II.

The men’s team didn’t have an answer for Samardo Samuels inside the paint.

Samuels torched Norse double teams en route to 29 points and 12 rebounds. Samuels, a highly touted recruit from New Jersey, is NBA-bound after finishing another year. Not only did he give the Norse fits, he will also be a force for any Big East center.

NKU might have found a diamond in the rough in St. Louis transfer Dustin McGuire.

McGuire had the near-sellout crowd believing that the Norse could somehow pull off a win when he hit the Gilbert Arenas-like three pointer, the one where he double pumped the shot with Andre McGee in his face as the shot clock expired. I thought they might pull it off, too. Having a guy hit nine threes helps the chances of winning tenfold.

But it was Louisville, a team with Final Four potential, that killed those chances.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, of all people, didn’t take Louisville lightly. In fact, we shouldn’t expect to see him in these parts, well, ever again. No way will he bring a squad remotely as talented as this one and risk them being humiliated by that D-II school with the brand-new shiny arena. He won’t be seeing a pesky four-guard lineup anytime soon, either.

Regardless, both teams didn’t suffer a pesky loss, and as Women’s Head Coach Nancy Winstel said, beating a team by 40 points in an exhibition game proves nothing.

If anything, losing by 15 (men’s team) and 17 (women’s team) points respectively shows some weaknesses that the Norse can work on now and not in February or March, at the end of the season.