2012-13 Louisville Cardinals College Basketball PreviewHead Coach: Rick Pitino
2011-12: 30-10 (10-8 Big East), lost to Kentucky in Final Four
Odds to win NCAA title: 17/2
Odds from Bovada.
Louisville didn’t begin the 2011-12 season with high expectations. This season will be quite different. Louisville is the third most favored team to win the NCAA title, and with a healthy squad they should be able to best last year’s performance, as good as it was.
Their key players are center Gorgui Dieng, Chase Behanan, Peyton Siva, William Blackshear and Russ Smith.
Dieng is likely the best center in the Big East. At 6’10″, Dieng should be able to average a double-double, even in a tough conference. He was close last year with 9 & 9, but now he’s an upper classman and his footwork and skills around the basket are better. Behanan is just a sophomore, but he averaged 13.2 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament, indicating he should be in for a big year.
Blackshear and Luke Hancock will play the wing spots for Louisville, interchangeable at the 2/3 positions. Hancock is the co-captain of the team and Rick Pitino said he is the team’s best player. The Cards also have depth in the front court, with sophomore Zach Price, Stephan Van Treese and freshman Montrezl Harrell.
Siva remains a key to the team, too, but only if he can remain healthy. Last year he battled an ankle injury which took a while to heal, and it seemed to affect his mindset the rest of the year. He stopped shooting the ball confidently, and teams layed off him when he had the ball. He played much better in the postseason, so if he can build off that momentum, U of L will have a great guy running the point.
Russ Smith has to start hitting shots if he is going to shoot so many. Despite taking more shots than anyone on the team last year, he hit just 35 percent, but was able to create his shot when teammates weren’t. So, Pitino was fine with Smith forcing some stuff, since no one else would. Angel Nunez should be in for a bigger role in the backcourt, as a good shooter, but he saw only 55 minutes of action all of last season.
All in all, Siva has to remain an effective point guard for this team to reach its potential. They must:
a) remain healthy
b) find three point shooting
and c) Russ Smith must continue to improve.
If all three of those things happen, Louisville can contend for a title.