The moment the NCAA Tournament concludes, the preseason polls begin to roll out. While the day to declare for the NBA Draft isn’t until April 26th, it doesn’t stop the media folk from speculating who the best teams could be for the upcoming season. Case in point, ESPN.com’s early poll, where UofL is ranked 19th.
No coach whose 2014-15 season finished outside the Final Four will lose as much marquee talent as Rick Pitino, who waved farewell to Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier and Wayne Blackshear after the Cardinals’ Elite Eight loss to Michigan State. For most coaches, those goodbyes would likely herald the coming of the dreaded rebuilding year. For Pitino, they just mean finding creative solutions. Point guard Quentin Snider flashed promise after he replaced the dismissed Chris Jones in the lineup late in the season, experience which may prove vital moving forward. Mangok Mathiang will be just as long and disruptive around the rim as ever, Chinanu Onuaku was one of the country’s best offensive rebounders, and the incoming class includes three top-100 players, including No. 31, Deng Adel, who will likely earn starter’s minutes from day one. Adel’s classmates — Donovan Mitchell and Raymond Spalding — are less heralded, but intriguing pieces all the same. How quickly can Pitino get this group up to speed? How good can Anas Mahmoud — a freshman center most famous for being the latter half of the best quote of Pitino’s 2014-15 season — get? There are plenty of questions here. But we’d bet on Louisville’s coach to find the answers.