Is a Big East Championship Possible For Louisville?
Even before Andre Drummond committed surprisingly to UConn a year early, Louisville was being considered second-fiddle in the Big East to not just the defending champions, but Syracuse as well. Why and is it justified?
Entering the season as a middle-of-the-pack team in the ultra-competitive Big East a year ago, Rick Pitino's Cardinals locked down on opponents on the defensive end, while they stunned their opponents with a bevy of 3-pointers on the other end. Even though one of the top 3-point threats in the conference, Preston Knowles, has graduated, Louisville is showing it is just as deserving of all of the pre-season hype Big East foes UConn and Syracuse have gotten.
Point guard Peyton Siva returning to play on the ball where he was a force running the offense, distributing the ball and finishing acrobatic plays in the lane and making a name for himself in the clutch. Siva was a hawk on defense averaging over two steals per game as well. His main target on the offensive end of the floor is one of the most efficient and effective shooters in the country- Kyle Kuric. He posted the tenth best offensive rating and fifth best effective field-goal percentage- not bad for someone who had a limited role to begin the season.
The key to this season's team will be replacing Knowles, an underrated defender on the perimeter and the lanky and athletic forward Terrence Jennings. Knowles nearly averaged two steals per game, while Jennings, even though he never reached his potential, was an undeniable interior force. Replacing the underperforming Jennings is the easier of the two where 6'10" Gorgui Dieng had 5+ blocks four times last year despite playing in a third of the team's minutes.