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Will The Cardinals Be A More Complete Team In The 2012-2013 Season?
July 18, 2012By Jon Hancock of KentuckySports.co
Last seasons Final Four run was one of the most exciting things that has transpired in recent Louisville basketball history. Coach Rick Pitino seemed to enjoy his players and the players grew as a unit. But the 2012-2013 team seems to have greater expectation compared to last season. In an Andy Katz interview a couple months ago Rick Pitino said, "This past year at Louisville we didn't expect to go, but now we have high expectations to go and do it."
The main reason why last year was a surprise to most Louisville fans was the epidemic of injuries on the team. Elijah Justice and Peyton Siva wore MMA helmets during practice due to concussions, talented freshman Wayne Blackshear had injuries to both shoulders and didn't see much minutes until the NCAA tournament, Mike Marra had a season ending knee injury after having a great start to the season, Rakeem Buckles also tore his ACL making him unavailable, Stephen Van Treece missed most of the season with a leg injury, the list seemed to grow as the season went on. The injuries seemed to creep up on the Cardinals in late December when they lost four out of five games including a 90-59 loss at Providence. So the fact that Louisville went on to win the Big East Championship and battled their way to the Final Four definitely shocked Card Nation.
With the roster changing dramatically with players graduating and transferring most teams would tag the up coming year as a rebuilding year. But Rick Pitino and his new acquired coaching staff have put together one of the most talented Louisville teams in recent history. Transfer Luke Hancock brings in his experience from George Mason University and working with the team last year as he sat out. Rick Pitino said last season that Hancock was the "best player on the team." He was even picked as a team captain for the 2012-2013. Hancock had his own injury in a pickup game but he should be ready to go before the season starts.
Probably the biggest development during the off-season was picking up Montrezl Harrell, a once Virginia Tech commit. Harrell brings a much needed depth to the power forward position, as well as the ability to rebound the ball. Harrell helped the 2012 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team win the gold medal in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship earlier this summer. In an interview with WDRB's Eric Crawford Rick Pitino said of Harrell, "He's a physical specimen, a legit 6-8 with a 7-4 wingspan. He's a raw talent. He's totally raw. What I love about him the most is he's just this raw talent who hasn't been taught a lot of offensive moves yet. We're going to be spending a lot of time on his footwork, on his jab-step, on his back-to-the-basket game, and he's going to get so much better because he doesn't have this. So he's just a raw talent who's going to take off."
Terry Rozier, a talented point guard from Ohio, is also supposed to be joining the team this season. He has been having some issues becoming eligible to play due to ACT scores and unfinished high school classes. Recently Rick Pitino said Rozier has a 50-50 chance of being on the Cardinals roster this season. If he does become eligible he will bring great outside shooting and pure point guard skills to the team. Without Rozier, Russ Smith and Kevin Ware would become senior leader Peyton Siva's backups.
Peyton Siva has the most pressure on the team to succeed, last year was an up and down year for the quick point guard from Seattle. Rick Pitino said in the Eric Crawford interview of his senior leader, "You know, Peyton is really becoming a true point. I would say right now, it's the first time where I say he's a true point. He doesn't get himself into situations he can't get out of." This is going to be Peyton's team, with such a young and talented group Siva will have to be the guy who leads the team to victory. Jeff Goodman said of the team, "this year's team has talent, experience and depth."
With junior Gorgui Dieng continuing to get stronger and develop his skills, Chane Behanan becoming a more complete player and the rest of the team becoming healthy the Yum! Center should be rocking this coming season. From top to bottom the UofL Cardinals are extremely athletic and have the potential to beat any team in the country.
Peyton Siva told the media yesterday at the Cardinal Caravan, “We have one goal, win a national championship."
For more of Peyton Siva's interview go HERE.
For more of Rick Pitino's interview go HERE.
For complete Jeff Goodman article on Louisville next season go HERE.