Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Louisville Ready to Spread Wings

Off the heels of an Elite 8 loss to UNC, the Louisville Cardinals are hungry for more this year, looking for a national title.

As in past years under head coach Rick Pitino, defense won't be a problem for the Cards. They employ a full-court pressure, on the ball, in your face defense. They specialize in forcing turnovers and bad shots late in the shot clock. By doing this, they can effectively frustrate opposing point guards as well as star post players by not allowing entry to the block.

On offense, the Cards are led by a quartet of guards that all have significant playing experience in college. Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith provide size at the point guard position while Andre McGee and Mississippi State transfer Reginald Delk offer more scoring options. These guards control the tempo and rarely turn the ball over.

The forwards are mostly in charge of scoring and, of course, rebounding. Power forward Earl Clark, at 6'9", is a little undersized, especially in the Big East, but can rebound with the best of them. Last season, he averaged 8.1 rebounds per game and accumulated 10 double-doubles. Clark is accompanied in the frontcourt by Terrence Williams, a junior small forward who led Lousiville in assists last year with 4.5 per game. Williams is a slasher who can drive and kick as well as finish strong in the paint. His size and athletic ability, along with his point forward skills, make him a tough guard for slower forwards in the Big East.

And, yes, North Carolina returns much of their Final Four team, including Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough and point guard Ty Lawson. Louisville also brings back a lot of talent while adding two top-flight recruits. Freshmen Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings bring depth to the frontcourt that wasn't seen when star forward David Padgett was at UL. Samuels is a power forward whose strength is rebounding and Jennings is a finisher around the bucket.

The Cards were close last year, but this, under the steady guidance of Rick Pitino, they will spread their wings to the tune of a national title.

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