LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – With this Deng Adel, the University of Louisville basketball team can go places.
With this Deng Adel, whose passing is an offensive catalyst when he’s on his game, teams can’t be sure he’s going to force the ball to the rim every time he drives it at the basket. With this Adel, open shooters begin to get the ball in positions to do damage. With this Adel, opponent offensive rebounding becomes more difficult.
On Saturday in the KFC Yum! Center, Adel scored a career-high 27 points on 10 of 15 shooting, pulled down a season-best 11 rebounds, and called the dagger shot in an impressive 94-86 victory over Virginia Tech. But that wasn’t all. It was Adel’s unselfishness on offense and his constant creation for teammates that helped the offense look as impressive as it has all season.
The victory boosted Louisville to 3-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, the third time in four years in the league that they’ve won three out of their first four conference games.
“He looked like the pro that he is,” sophomore Ryan McMahon said. “Hopefully a lot of people see that game and realize the payer that he is. He’s had some tough games this year where he’s been putting the team on his back and doing whatever he can to win, but he’s really coming into his own and figuring out how to do that successfully.”
Turns out, putting the team on his back involves getting the ball into more people’s hands. The more he facilitates, the better Louisville looks offensively.
After matching a career-high five assists in a 16-point effort at Florida State, he dished out three assists against Virginia Tech, and made a career-high 10 shots, including 4-6 from three-point range.
“He played very, very well,” Louisville coach David Padgett said. “We built on Florida State, offensively. We didn’t settle for good shots when we could get great shots. . . . He’s just letting the game come to him, not forcing things. He’s playing how you would expect a junior of his caliber to play.”
Padgett even took a page from Denny Crum’s playbook, looking for some opportunities to post up Adel against smaller guards, and probably will do that more often.
But it’s Adel’s improved decision-making lately that has his numbers trending upward.
“A lot of it is seeing what the defense does,” Adel said. “If they back off, then I have to take that shot, because they’re not going to respect the jump shot. But a lot of it is just reading the plays and…