Cards fans are counting on the duo of Behanan and Blackshear
According to ESPN, that might just be the case. Basically every preseason poll I’ve seen to this point has Louisville ranked either first, second, or at worst, third. Considering they lost two starters, I see how some people can argue that perhaps they’re getting a bit too much attention. However, if you factor in the late emergence of Wayne Blackshear and the arrival of Luke Hancock (assuming he’s healthy by the start of the season), I think the losses of Kuric and Chris Smith are negated. Add in the fact that everyone else that helped guide this team to a Final Four will be back – and the premise that the entire landscape of college basketball will be a bit watered down in general – and it’s hard to argue with the lofty preseason expectations. Nevertheless, ESPN’s Dana O’Neil picks Louisville as her most over-hyped team in this column.
Dana O’Neil: Louisville
It may seem silly to question the early buzz on a team that is coming off a Final Four run (and perhaps it is), but I am still not all-in with Louisville. There are plenty of things I like about the Cardinals — the fact the heart of the team is back, that Wayne Blackshear will be in the lineup from the opening tip, that Mike Marra returns from injury and above all else, their defensive tenacity.
Here’s the worry: the offense. Louisville struggled to score last season and with their best outside threat graduating in the form of Kyle Kuric, that doesn’t look to get any easier. I thought Luke Hancock, the George Mason transfer, might help ease that burden but the Cardinals appear to be carrying their injury bug from last season into the next.
Hancock injured his shoulder in a workout and will miss the next few months, according to Rick Pitino. Hancock should return by the start of the season, but it’s still a significant blow for a team that already plans to be without Rakeem Buckles (still, again, pick your qualifier).
Louisville overachieved last year by miles to make it to the Final Four and while this team certainly has reason to hope, I think it’s still a little premature to presume.