2007-2008 Louisville Cardinals Basketball Preview
Louisville Cardinals -
2006-07: 24-10, 12-4, 2nd (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Louisville lacked experience on the perimeter last season, but by the end of the year Coach Rick Pitino had his team moving in the right direction. And most of the late season progress was due to Edgar Sosa emerging as a solid point guard. He averaged 11.4 points, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals per contest as a freshman and ended the campaign with a 31 point effort in the NCAA Tournament loss to Texas A&M. Andre McGee, who missed part of last season with a knee injury, has enough talent to push Sosa for minutes. Although he did not show it last year, McGee is a decent scorer as well.
The lone starter lost is Brandon Jenkins. The guard was never much of a scorer, but he was a great defender and that will certainly be missed. However, with the influx of young talent on the perimeter, the Cardinals will manage to do just fine without him. Perrin Johnson, Jonathan Huffman, Brad Gianiny and Chris Current have also transferred or graduated, but none of them were significant contributors.
Louisville has more than enough talent to let the newcomers hang out on the bench for the season and most of them will do just that. However, George Goode is good enough to earn some minutes this year. The 6-8 power forward is a solid athlete who can do some scoring inside and out. Goode will be a decent defender right away and is a threat to block a shot or two when he gets the opportunity. Point guard Preston Knowles and wing Lee Steiden will provide some emergency depth for now. Clarence Holloway will not be suiting up for the Cardinals this year. The 7-1 center, who was awaiting an NCAA eligibility ruling, had heart surgery in late September. He will be ready to play next season.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt has an embarrassment of riches. David Padgett mans the center spot and averaged 9.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last year. The former Kansas Jayhawk is finally healthy and has the tools to be a dominating player in the paint if he can get past his injury problems. Derrick Caracter has the potential to be just as effective under the basket as Padgett. When Caracter got a chance to play as a freshman, the 6-9, 265 pound New Jersey product proved to be an effective player under the basket. The problem is his weight and ability to disappear at times. Even if that continues to be a problem, Caracter will be at least a decent backup to Padgett. At the power forward spot Juan Palacios will get the call. Palacios, who has run into injury problems of his own, averaged 8.9 points and 5.5 boards during the 2006-2007 season. He is a versatile scorer and should be able to help out on the glass more as long as he stays healthy. Despite his team high 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds, small forward Terrance Williams is often overlooked. The 6-6 Williams also added 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals on the campaign. The only thing standing in the way of superstardom is a consistent shot. Williams will get to the basket effectively, but he took 5.5 long ball attempts per game last year and hit just 26.1 percent of them. Sophomore Earl Clark is a match-up nightmare for the opposing defense. He is a 6-8 guard who can hit the outside shot and do some damage around the basket. He will not score a ton, but Louisville could not ask for much more coming off the bench.
Final Louisville Projection:
With Sosa and McGee at the point the Cardinals already have a dynamic backcourt. But it gets better. Jerry Smith had a productive freshman season averaging 8.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists. His best asset is his long range shooting. Smith was by far the most consistent shooter on the team from beyond the arc, hitting 47.8 percent of his attempts. He started ten games last year, but he will see more minutes now. If he can keep up his shooting percentage while taking more shots, Smith will be one of the better scorers in the Big East. Junior Will Scott is a capable shooter off the bench. With the departure of Jenkins, Scott will need to see more than the 8.2 minutes per game he averaged last season. In that limited playing time he still managed to score 3.5 points per contest. As long as the backcourt players can handle more playing time and the frontcourt can stay healthy, Louisville is the cream of the crop in the conference.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Edgar Sosa, Sophomore, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Jerry Smith, Sophomore, Guard, 8.0 points per game
Terrance Williams, Junior, Forward, 12.4 points per game
Juan Palacios, Senior, Forward, 8.9 points per game
David Padgett, Senior, Center, 9.5 points per game
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