#14 Louisville Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Louisville Cardinals

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #4 ACC

Louisville Team Page#14 Louisville Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Louisville Basketball Tickets

Louisville’s season ended in disappointment with a Sweet Sixteen loss to rival Kentucky. But other than that, this was a Cardinals team that went 15-3 in American Athletic Conference play, won the conference’s regular season and tournament titles and ended up with a 31-6 overall record. But now it is off to the ACC where the competition is going to be much tougher game in and game out. Coach Rick Pitino has some rebuilding to do, yet there are still not many more talented teams in the ACC.

2013-14 Record: 31-6, 15-3
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rick Pitino
Coach Record: 341-117 at Louisville, 695-245 overall

Who’s Out:
Russ Smith is the big loss for Louisville. He was the team’s top scorer and would take most of the big shots. Not only did he lead the team with 18.2 points per game, but he also led the Cardinals with 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals. Luke Hancock was second only to Smith when it came to three-point shooting. He knocked down nearly two per game and averaged 12.3 points per contest. Stephan Van Treese started 21 games during his senior season was a key clog in the paint. Never a scoring threat, Van Treese would at least hit the glass hard and play solid defense. Chane Behanan missed most of last season anyway, but he was a tough rebounder when around. He declared for the NBA Draft, and went undrafted, after previously planning to transfer. Tim Henderson has also moved on after playing limited minutes in 2013-2014.

Who’s In:
Dillon Avare and Trent Gilbert will join the backcourt, but Quentin Snider and Shaqquan Aaron are the freshmen to watch on the perimeter. Snider is a crafty point guard who can do some scoring as well and Aaron is a big 6-7 guard who has the talent to earn a starting job as a freshman. Aaron will have to get stronger, but he can shoot and will eventually be a very dangerous offensive player for Louisville. Anas Mahmoud and Chinanu Onuaku are expected to at least add some defensive options to the frontcourt. Mahmoud, a seven-footer, is a lean big man who can get up and down the floor surprisingly well. Jaylen Johnson and Matz Stockman will have time to develop their games, and they will need that time.

Who to Watch:
The projected starting five has a nice mixture of experience and potential. Chris Jones ran the point last season and will do so once again for his senior season. Jones averaged 2.9 assists per game and proved to be a very capable scorer and defender as well. Jones did defer to Smith much of the time when it came to running the offense, so he will need to step into a bigger leadership role and spend more time with the ball in his hands this year. Terry Rozier and Wayne Blackshear figure to start beside Jones. Rozier has the potential to be a great all-around player. As a freshman last year he averaged just 7.0 points per game, but he is capable of being this team’s go-to-scorer. With a nice long range stroke and an underappreciated mid-range game, Rozier has the tools he needs. Blackshear was more efficient in the scoring department than Rozier, averaging 8.2 points per game, but he has yet to live up to his potential. He is running out of time now. Power forward Montrezl Harrell turned down the NBA to be one of the best players in college basketball this season. Last year he averaged 14.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. The 6-8 junior is an absolute beast on both ends of the floor and Louisville will be in great shape as long as they work their offense through the big man. Mangok Mathiang is a better shot blocker than Harrell and the 6-10 sophomore will provide plenty of help on the defensive end. Harrell does not need much help on the other end of the floor.

Final Projection:
This is going to be an interesting year for Louisville. There is Final Four talent on the squad once again, but how they adapt to life in the ACC will be fun to watch. This group can win the conference title and that would make it three conference crowns in three different conferences in three years. Or they could win the conference tournament title and make it three in a row there too. Even if the grind of the ACC leads this team to a few stumbles along the way, Coach Pitino will have this team playing great basketball by March.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Chris Jones, Senior, Guard, 10.2 points per game
Terry Rozier, Sophomore, Guard, 7.0 points per game
Wayne Blackshear, Senior, Forward, 8.2 points per game
Montrezl Harrell, Junior, Forward, 14.0 points per game
Mangok Mathiang, Sophomore, Center, 3.6 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.0 (12th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.1 (15, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.1 (37, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.6 (20, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (44, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.8 (70, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.1 (290, 8)
Rebound Margin: 3.0 (84, 4)
Assists Per Game: 15.4 (26, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.6 (39, 2)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#29 Montrezl Harrell

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#26 Shaqquan Aaron
#37 Quentin Snider
#63 Jaylen Johnson
#72 Chinanu Onuaku
#116 Anas Osama Mahmound


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews