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ESPN Does Summer Breakdown Of Big East Basketball
July 23, 2012By Jon Hancock of KentuckySports.co
ESPN analysts wrote a great Big East breakdown of this years basketball teams and they have high hopes for the Louisville Cardinals. For the complete article go HERE. The most surprising statement of the article was that Russ Smith is the most important player on the team. It is surprising to me not that I don't think Russ Smith is very important, but he isn't a player that the national media usually gives much attention to.
Dana O'Neil wrote UofL's off season story line:
Return engagement? A year ago, Louisville served as the beggars at the feast, the surprise member at the Final Four party. They survived as much as they won, overcoming a laundry list of injuries to key players, to make their way to lifting the Big East tournament trophy and followed that up with a trip to New Orleans.
This year people expect the Cardinals to thrive as well as survive, all the way to Atlanta and a Final Four return engagement.
The rationale is simple: Louisville returns everyone to the lineup save Kyle Kuric and inserts George Mason transfer Luke Hancock to fill that role. (That is, after Hancock recovers from shoulder surgery. Not everything has changed in Louisville).
But Rick Pitino knows a thing or two about trying to get back to the Final Four, having walked down Expectation Highway with Kentucky in 1996 and 1997, and realizes what he's up against.
"This past year at Louisville, we didn't expect to go but now we have high expectations to go and do it," Pitino told ESPN.com's Andy Katz. "I think this time will be tougher than it was at Kentucky. At Kentucky, it was totally unexpected, but this time it will be expected. It's hard to have a Final Four that will be expected."
Writer Eammon Brennan wrote some of the Best and Worst case scenerios for Louisville:
Best-case scenario: Why shouldn't expectations be running high? The Cardinals bring back point guard Peyton Siva, "Russdiculous" Russ Smith, a developing Gorgui Dieng, a healthy Wayne Blackshear and, best of all, Chane Behanan, who looks every bit a breakout sophomore All-America candidate. The Cardinals won't always look pretty on offense, but they'll defend like crazy. That's the best reason to like their national title chances.
Worst-case scenario: Lest we forget, this was a very streaky team. For large stretches of the season, it simply could not score. The additions of Blackshear and top-100 recruits Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell will add energy and athleticism, but little in the way of outside touch, and if the Cardinals go especially cold at the wrong time, they'll be vulnerable.