ACC Basketball: 2015-2016 Louisville Season Preview

Louisville Cardinals


27-9 (12-6 ACC) in 2014-2015


Key Returning Players 

  • C Mangok Mathiang
  • C Chinanu Onuaku


  • F Montrezl Harrell
  • G Terry Rozier
  • G Chris Jones
  • G Wayne Blackshear


  • G Trey Lewis, transfer from Cleveland
  • G Damion Lee, transfer from Drexler
  • SF Deng Adel, 4-star recruit
  • F Raymond Spalding, 4-star recruit
  • SG Donovan Mitchell, 4-star recruit




The Cardinals have a fresh influx of impressive young talent, but they have to find a way to replace the top four leading scorers from last season. Wayne Blackshear, Chris Jones, Terry Rozier, and Montrezl Harrell are all gone leaving a cast of unproven young players and a few veteran transfers mixed in. Damion Lee is a 6’6″ guard who averaged 21.4 PPG for Drexler last season. He will give Louisville an experienced scorer who can take over a game from the wing. Fellow transfer guard Trey Lewis should provide a similar skill set. Lewis posted 16.3 PPG as a sophomore for Cleveland.

Harrell is gone, but the rest of the post remains intact. Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang will both be asked to step up their production. There’s enough scoring ability elsewhere that if these two can simply rebound effectively, that might be enough for success. True freshman Raymond Spalding should be able to help off the bench at 6’10”.

Throw Donovan Mitchell into the mix at guard and the recipe for Rick Pitino should be pretty similar this season. Rely on your guards and hope for anything in the post. It remains to be seen if this backcourt can score like last season’s did, but there are enough options that it should be possible on most nights.


Schedule and Prediction


The non-conference schedule is very weak save for a trip to No. 13 Michigan State and the rivalry game with No. 2 Kentucky. The Cardinals should be able to cruise to at least 10 wins before ACC play begins January 3. Louisville only has to face North Carolina once, but Duke and Virginia will face the Cards twice a piece. There’s a brutal stretch of conference play that starts with a home game against No. 6 UVA on January 30. No. 1 UNC comes to town February 1, then after a home date with Boston College, Louisville heads on the road to No. 5 Duke and No. 18 Notre Dame.

I envision at least a split of conference games and that can easily skew positive if the team comes together by the start of the new year. There is of course the looming cloud of the NCAA investigation of the program and various past discretions. That won’t bother the players much, but Rick Pitino has to be concerned of the potential fallout at the very least. Still, there’s enough talent that with an upset or two, Louisville could be playing for a 20-win season in the final week of the regular season. I don’t expect it will be enough to make the NCAA Tournament without a marquee win or two, but the potential is there for something very exciting. Time will tell if the young offensive talent can play defense and mature in time to make it happen.


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