#39 Louisville Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Louisville Cardinals

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #39
Conference Rank: #7 ACC

Louisville Team Page#39 Louisville Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Louisville Basketball Tickets

Louisville was so close to reaching the Final Four, but fell just short, losing 76-70 in overtime to Michigan State. But this Louisville team will be much different than it was a year ago. Four double digit scorers are gone and that leaves sophomore guard Quentin Snider and his 4.1 points per game as the top returning scorer. Coach Rick Pitino has some reloading to do. This should be an NCAA Tournament team, but with so much turnover, it could take a while before the Cardinals start looking like one.

2014-15 Record: 27-9, 12-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rick Pitino
Coach Record: 368-126 at Louisville, 722-254 overall

Who’s Out:
Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harrell, Chris Jones and Wayne Blackshear were everything for Louisville last season. Each played at least 31 minutes per game and each averaged at least 11.6 points per game, led by Rozier’s 17.1. Those four alone accounted for 58.1 points, 23.1 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 5.9 steals per game. That is a lot of production to replace. Also gone is Anton Gill, who was in the regular rotation, and little used freshman forward Shaqquan Aaron.

Who’s In:
Coach Pitino will rely heavily on his newcomers, but fortunately a couple of them have a lot of experience. Trey Lewis is a graduate transfer from Cleveland State who should step right into the starting point guard role. Lewis also spent his freshman campaign at Penn State. Last year he averaged 16.3 points and 2.9 assists per game. He is also a very good three-point shooter. Damion Lee is a grad transfer as well. Lee comes from Drexel where the 6-6 guard averaged 21.4 points per game, ranking fourth in all of Division I basketball. Obviously he can score from anywhere on the floor, but he is a tough rebounder too. Like Lewis, Lee is expected to start from day one. The backcourt also adds incoming freshmen Jay Henderson, Ryan McMahon and Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell is the one to watch this season. He is a very good scorer and already has the physicality he needs to attack the basket in the ACC. Deng Adel could step right into the starting small forward spot. He is a bit raw still and does need to take care of the ball better before Coach Pitino will give him too many minutes. Raymond Spalding, a 6-10, 210 pound forward, is raw too. However, he should at least be good for some rebounds and blocked shots.

Who to Watch:
Most of the returning talent comes in the frontcourt where Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang combined to start 35 games. Onuaku has a lot of offensive potential despite averaging just 3.0 points per game. Just like Onuaku, Mathiang is a strong rebounder and a solid shot blocker. If Onuaku does indeed turn into a consistent scoring threat in the paint, it is possible that Louisville will start both of those big guys. That would leave Adel, if he spends any time at the four spot, Anas Mahmoud, Jaylen Johnson and Spalding to provide most of the interior depth. Mahmoud is a seven-footer who was able to get his feet wet as a freshman. The expectations on him will be much higher now. Scorers are certainly needed from somewhere and the frontcourt will be asked to help as much as they can.

Final Projection:
This team could play small with Lee playing at the small forward spot, making room for either Snider or Mitchell. Snider is not going to score much, but he could emerge as a secondary ball handler to go along with Lewis. And that could leave Lewis off the ball more to do his scoring. Either way, Louisville is relying heavily on transfers from Cleveland State and Drexel. These are two of the best the Horizon League and CAA have to offer, but that is not exactly what Louisville likes to do. Still, Coach Pitino did a good job putting some of the pieces together to put out a team that has the talent to reach the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Trey Lewis, Senior, Guard, 16.3 points per game (Cleveland State)
Damion Lee, Senior, Guard, 21.4 points per game (Drexel)
Deng Adel, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Mangok Mathiang, Junior, Center, 2.6 points per game
Chinanu Onuaku, Sophomore, Center, 3.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.0 (132nd in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.8 (23, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.9 (205, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.2 (23, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.5 (255, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.7 (305, 12)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.8 (254, 11)
Rebound Margin: 2.6 (86, 7)
Assists Per Game: 11.6 (249, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.3 (63, 7)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#50 Damion Lee

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#29 Donovan Mitchell
#33 Deng Adel
#39 Raymond Spalding


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