Skip to content

2013-2014 Season Preview: No. 3 Louisville Cardinals

Oct 30, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Kenny Klein/Louisville Athletics Kenny Klein/Louisville Athletics

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 35-5, 14-4 Big East (t-1st); Won the National Title

Head Coach: Rick Pitino (13th season at Louisville: 310-111 overall, 137-67 CUSA/Big East)

Key Losses: Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva

Newcomers: Chris Jones, Terry Rozier, Akoy Agau, Anton Gill

Projected Lineup

G: Chris Jones, Jr.
G: Russ Smith, Sr.
F: Luke Hancock, Sr.
F: Stephen Van Treese, Sr.
C: Montrezl Harrell, So.
Bench: Terry Rozier, Fr.; Wayne Blackshear, Jr.; Akoy Agau, Fr.; Mangok Mathiang, So.; Kevin Ware, Jr. Chane Behanan, Jr.*

They’ll be good because …: Well, they’re really, really good. Russ Smith is back for a senior season in which he should once again shine. For all the criticism that Smith gets for being Russdiculous, the fact of the matter is that he posted an offensive rating 108.9 despite posting a usage rate of 32.0%. For those that aren’t well-versed in advanced analytics, that means that Smith was quite efficient on the offensive end of the floor despite being one of the most high-volume shooters in the country.

He’s not alone, either. Final Four MOP Luke Hancock is back for his senior season while Montrezl Harrell returns for what many expect to be a huge sophomore year. Chris Jones is a former top 50 recruit that spent the past two seasons winning titles and earning individual accolades as a JuCo point guard at Northwest Florida State. Terry Rozier did a prep year at Hargrave Military Academy last season and is expected to have an immediate impact off the bench. Wayne Blackshear should finally be healthy and in shape this season. Even Kevin Ware is expected to be back in the lineup by the time Louisville starts playing games that matter.

source:

AP photo

But they might disappoint because …: Losing Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng is going to hurt more than people realize. Siva was this team’s leader a season ago. He was the coach on the floor, the guy with the ball in his hands in crunch. He was also a terrific on-ball defender and, along with Smith, made this team so tough to score against. Most importantly, Siva was a calming influence alongside Russdiciulous, which is a factor that cannot be underrated. Jones may be talented, but he’d be hard-pressed to provide the same presence and leadership on the floor that Siva provided.

Harrell should be able to replace the scoring and the rebounding that Dieng provided last season. Where Dieng’s graduation will hurt is as a shot-blocker. Part of the reason that Louisville could put so much pressure on the ball is that they knew they had an eraser at the rim if they hadn’t to get beat on the perimeter. Harrell’s a junkyard dog and a potential first-team all-AAC player, but he’s not the same kind of defensive presence. Dieng also proved to be a good passer, which helped Louisville, who lack some perimeter shooting, against zone defenses they went up against.

There’s no replacement for talent, which Louisville has plenty of, but Siva and Dieng were indispensable pieces that made Louisville’s lineup fit together.

Outlook: Obviously, the x-factor for this Louisville team will be the presence of Chane Behanan. If you’ve forgotten, Louisville’s starting power forward — who averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 boards a season ago — was suspended indefinitely from the team earlier this month for issues he has off the court. when Pitino initially announced the suspension, he made the situation seem dire; that Behanan may not actually be able to work his way back onto the team. More recent comments have made it seem like the big fella can be back in the lineup before the Cardinals play Kentucky (on 12/28), perhaps before the end of November.

Louisville is a national title contender with or without Behanan. But without him, the Cardinal’s just don’t have all that much front court depth. Harrell will be a beast this season, I think every prognosticator will agree. But after that? Stephen Van Treese? Akoy Agau? Mangok Mathiang? Kentucky’s sixth-best big man, Derek Willis, is better than those three.

Maybe I’m cynical, but I expect Behanan to be back in the lineup sooner rather than later, which means that the Cardinals will be a serious contender come March.

Latest Posts
  1. CAA Rookie of the Year transfers to BYU

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:04 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Elijah Bryant will have three years of eligibility remaining.

  2. Arkansas forward Jacorey Williams linked to pair of alleged assaults

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Arkansas forward was charged with one count of forgery last week.

  3. Texas Tech commit to attend junior college

    Jul 28, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    The three-star forward failed to qualify earlier this month.

  4. Arizona State receives commitment from three-star center Jethro Tshisumpa

    Jul 28, 2015, 6:21 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Bobby Hurley off to a good start in his new gig in Tempe.

  5. John Calipari says 2016 “could be best class ever”

    Jul 28, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Tai Wynyard of New Zealand is the only commit currently in Kentucky’s Class of 2016.

  6. Michigan lands commitment from 2016 guard Ibi Watson

    Jul 28, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    John Beilein gets his third commitment for 2016.

  7. Another mixtape for July’s biggest stock-riser, Wenyen Gabriel (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.15.47 PM

    If you can do things like this, you can play for Duke or Kentucky.

  8. If the NCAA is correct, Donnie Tyndall is in big, big trouble

    Jul 28, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    Donnie Tyndall AP

    The accusations against him include burner phones, hiding IP addresses and his mother’s cell.

  9. Tracy Abrams suffers second season-ending injury in 10 months

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Abrams was projected as the starting point guard for Illinois.

  10. Ben Howland’s first non-conference schedule at Mississippi State is unimpressive

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:03 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The Bulldogs aren’t guaranteed to play a top 25 team until SEC play.

  11. Highlights of Bol Bol, 15 year old son of Manute Bol (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.49.06 AM

    He is talented, just don’t call him the next Kevin Durant.

  12. Video tour of VCU’s new $25 million practice facility

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwi3otuyzgqyymy0yzdhm2mzntk2mzg5zmrlnzczm2vm AP

    Will Wade will have a beautiful facility to recruit to.

  13. Kansas, Indiana on opposite sides of 2015 Maui Invitational bracket

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:12 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Potentially four top-25 teams will be in the 2015 field.

  14. Colorado State’s Antwan Scott granted sixth year of eligibility

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:51 PM EDT

    Grambling State Grambling State

    Scott averaged 15.7 points per game for Grambling during the 2013-14 season.

  15. Nik Stauskas trolls Ohio State fans, claims Thad Matta didn’t know who he was (PHOTO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The former Big Ten Player of the Year (inaccurately) trolls Ohio State fans

  16. Top two 2017 recruit Michael Porter Jr. dunks all weekend (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 10.29.28 AM

    It’s pretty obvious why people like Porter.

  17. Highlights of Wenyen Gabriel, who’s been offered by Kentucky, Duke (VIDEOS)

    Jul 27, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.15.47 PM

    Gabriel was the biggest stock riser for the month.

  18. Ron Baker was the best college player for Team USA at Pan-Am Games

    Jul 27, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT

    baker Getty Images

    Denzel Valentine and Taurean Waller-Prince also played well in stretches.