2013-14 Louisville Cardinals Basketball Season Preview

Dieng left for the NBA, but Pitino feels confident the Cardinals can adapt.
Dieng left for the NBA, but Pitino feels confident the Cardinals can adapt.

Louisville Cardinals
2012-13 Record: 35-5; 14-4 Big East
Won National Title over Michigan 82-76
2013-14 TItle Odds: 10/1

Louisville is the reigning NCAA champ and with Rick Pitino guiding the ship, the team will set its sights on another national title run, as college basketball oddsmakers at Bovada list the Cardinals at 10/1 to win it this season.

The Cardinals have made the switch from the Big East Conference to the American Athletic Conference, and Pitino joked that the biggest challenge the team will face is “remembering what league (they’re) in.”

Senior guard Russ Smith is the co-captain and leader of the Cardinals and he averaged 18.7 points per game last season. JUCO transfer Chris Jones will be a big help, too, and an unexpected one after he originally committed to Tennessee. Jones will handle the point duties after the graduation of Peyton Siva. Siva entered the NBA draft and his departure will leave a scoring void, but Pitino doesn’t anticipate having any problems filling it. In addition to losing Siva, the Cardinals also gave up Gorgui Dieng to the NBA.

The backcourt could actually be better than it was in 2012-13. Kevin Ware appears to have made a full recovery from the gruesome leg injury he suffered, and freshman guards Terry Rozier and Anton Gill are both good scorers and have impressed Pitino thus far. “This is a very, very strong backcourt,”

Pitino commented, adding that it may help overcome weaknesses in the frontcourt. Dieng’s shot blocking and rim protection will be missed, but the Cards have small forward Luke Hancock returning and junior Wayne Blackshear, a former McDonald’s All American. Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell both will feature prominently, as well, and Behanan had 11 points and 11 boards in the second half of the NCAA title game. He may see time at center this year, despite standing just 6’8″

Pitino is high on this team and a lot of bettors are, as well. It’s hard to bet against Pitino and a team that just won a title, and the Cardinals have enough depth to compensate for their losses in Siva and Dieng.

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