SAN JUAN – The University of Louisville basketball team got an intense welcome on Tuesday to its week-long exhibition tour here in the Caribbean, losing a pair of physical and at times heated games to Puerto Rico's junior and senior national teams at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico.
But if the purpose of this trip is for Louisville coach Rick Pitino and his staff to learn about their squad, the first two games of the exhibition series provided all kinds of helpful material.
In the opening game against Puerto Rico's junior national team, Louisville, with a nine-man roster made up of its likely bench players, struggled to start, turning the ball over 16 times in the first half. But the Cardinals scratched their way back into the game, erasing a 16-point deficit and playing one-possession basketball for much of the fourth quarter before losing 94-88.
In the second game, against a Puerto Rican national team built around NBA players JJ Barea and Moe Harkless, Louisville led through the first half before fading down the stretch and losing 89-81.
The biggest takeaway from the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader was that freshmen Ray Spalding and Deng Adel appear ready to play roles on U of L's team this season. And, in the second game, it was clear early and often that transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis will be major factors in determining how well Louisville does this season.
Here's a full breakdown of each player's first night in Puerto Rico:
Damion Lee. The conversation surrounding Lee, a 6-foot-6 fifth-year player who was fourth in the nation in scoring last season at Drexel, was that he would come in and play a huge role right away for Louisville, particularly on offense. Tuesday night didn't change that perception one bit. He was U of L's best player, looking confident and assertive in leading his team with 36 points.
Trey Lewis. The 6-2 guard who left Cleveland State for Louisville is calm and under control with the ball in his hands, and seems to have a good grasp on offense. Lewis (13 points) did a good job at point and can slide to the 2 because of his shooting ability, though he was quiet in the second half.
Chinanu Onuaku. Easily the most improved player on Louisville's team, the 6-10 Onuaku was active on both ends, running the floor, attacking the basket and even handling the ball. He was markedly better than the inconsistent, sometimes lackadaisical Onuaku fans saw last season.
Mangok Mathiang. Speaking of improved, the 6-10 Mathiang seemed much more comfortable on offense, but his main asset is still his vocal presence on the floor. He directs traffic, picks up teammates and does a lot of little things that add up. He faded a bit in the second half, but his energy in the first half helped Louisville get an early lead.
Donovan Mitchell. The only freshman who sat out of the doubleheader's opening game, the 6-3 Mitchell didn't have much of a presence on Tuesday night. He had a few small flashes, like a nice crossover that freed him up for a jumper, but he didn't impact the game.
Quentin Snider. Noticeably slimmer and quicker, the sophomore point guard found himself out of the rotation quite a bit in the second half, with Lewis sliding over to the point. But that's probably more a function of Louisville's exhibition tour experimentation than anything else.
Anas Mahmoud. The 7-foot Egyptian made several nice plays in the first game and finished with six points and six rebounds. It was a solid start to the exhibition series for Mahmoud, though he didn't have much impact in Game 2.
Matz Stockman. The sophomore big man played all of 22 minutes last season, fading to a reserve role and leaving many to wonder what he can bring to the Cardinals. And though he struggled early in the first game, Stockman finished strong, scoring eight points.
Jaylen Johnson. Originally assumed to be Louisville's likely starter at power forward -- and it's Aug. 11, so that very well could still happen -- Johnson (12 points, 6 rebounds) needed a while to get going in the first game. He played a few minutes in the second game but was limited.
Deng Adel. It's easy to see why the 6-7 Adel (14 points, 5 rebounds) was such a highly rated prospect out of high school. He put his special athleticism on display in the opener, smashing in a putback dunk in the first quarter and later thundering in an alley-oop on a fast break. At one point, he swatted a shot high off the glass, though officials (incorrectly) ruled it goaltending.
Ray Spalding. His body will fill out on his 6-9 frame, but he can already contribute in some way to Louisville. He was involved quite a bit early on, but he faded in the second half of the first game. That's to be expected for the young big man. He played a lot of meaningful minutes in the second game, though he didn't contribute a ton to the stat sheet.
Ryan McMahon. He is likely slated for a redshirt freshman year, but the small point guard did some things well. He splashed a deep 3 in the first half and dished out a few assists. McMahon (9 points) still had some turnover issues, though.
David Levitch. The veteran walk-on on Louisville's roster looked like his usual self: Composed and calm. He scored 10 points in the first game and was serviceable in playing quite a bit in the second game.
Jay Henderson. He has talent, and that much was on display on Tuesday. He scored 16 points, showing a nice shooting touch from distance and confidence with the ball in his hands.
Dillon Avare. It was a shaky outing for Avare, the walk-on guard. He never appeared comfortable at point, but that's to be expected against a solid team like Puerto Rico.
Follow U of L hoops writer Jeff Greer on Twitter (@jeffgreer_cj) for regular Puerto Rico updates.