After another loss to their rival, I’ve noticed that a good majority of Louisville fans are down on this team. I understand the frustration, and I know it gets old losing that game year after year. With that being said, don’t worry because I’m here to ease the pain with some cold hard
facts opinions. This team is a contender. Cards fans should still be looking forward to what’s yet to come into the new year. Here are FIVE reasons why you should be excited AND confident about these Cards:
1. They are one of the best defensive teams in the country.
In what was a major issue for Head Coach Chris Mack in his first season at Louisville, defense is not a problem this year. It may not be the stifling, defensive presence they once had under Rick Pitino, but it is a force to be reckoned with. They don’t block a lot of shots and they may not force many turnovers, but what they can do is make you uncomfortable. They are a tall, lengthy team (especially in the frontcourt) and they’ve made teams take difficult shots with that pack line defense. They are in the top 20 in scoring defense and in the top 30 in three point field goal defense, with opponents only shooting 27.7% from long range against them. UofL’s best defensive performance came against Michigan, a team that averages 79 points a game. Against UofL, they scored an abysmal 43 points. Sure, it may not be the full court, in your face, smothering defense like they played in the past. Nonetheless, it’s still a strong and effective attack that will win them in tons of games in the gauntlet of the ACC.
2. They have a rising star in Stephen Enoch.
When Stephen Enoch transferred from UConn to Louisville, I’m not sure if anyone thought he would end up being a premier big man in college basketball. After all, he barely played at UConn. He didn’t show many signs of potential, let alone that he could be a reliable contributor to a top ranked team. His first season for the Cards was up and down, at times looking like a liability and other times looking like the best player on the floor. In fact, he was just that when Louisville fell to Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament. Afterwards, Enoch announced that he was returning for his senior year and since that game, he hasn’t looked back. This season he is averaging just under 12 points a game along with grabbing 7 rebounds per contest. He was UofL’s best option on offense against UK and frankly, I think he deserves more touches. He’s developed a fantastic post game, can shoot from the outside, and is a terrific free throw shooter. If Louisville wants to make a run in March, this is a guy that needs to have more opportunities come his way. I still believe we have yet to see the best version of Enoch, which has to make the fanbase hopeful.
3. Jordan Nwora WILL BE FINE.
Nwora was dreadful against Kentucky, leading to a mass level of criticism from fans on social media and other outlets alike. Most of the criticism being aimed at the fact that he disappears in the biggest of games. Which happens to be a narrative that I don’t think is necessarily true. He does tend to play ‘hero ball’ and absolutely does have games where he seems to be unexplainably absent. That being said, where in the world would Louisville be without Jordan Nwora? Even though Stephen Enoch is blossoming, this is still Nwora’s team. If he decided to leave for the NBA instead of coming back, this squad would not be a contender. This team needs him to be the best player, as well as their leader. He will still have games where we aren’t sure why he’s jacking up tough shots or simply not being aggressive. There will also be games where he scores 25 or more and plays like an All-American. You hope that the latter is more of the case for the rest of the season. I think that is something that will hold true. Trust me on this guys, Nwora will be more consistent than not going into conference play.
4. They may have found clarity at Point Guard.
If the UofL fanbase was honest, before the UK game they would’ve told you their biggest weakness was their back court. Particularly, the point guard position. It’s not that Darius Perry is a bad player, by any means. Perry is averaging 4.5 assists per game, which is triple the amount of what he averaged the three years prior. Not to mention the fact that he is a formidable on ball defender, possibly the best on the team. However, what Louisville needs is more scoring, movement, direction, and consistency at the position. Playmaking to be more specific. Nearly every championship team has had a terrific starting point guard. Even to this day, it’s still the most important position in college basketball. Like I stated, Perry is a fine player but I’m not sold on him being “the guy”. Interestingly enough, we weren’t sure if they had a better option. Until Saturday, the Saint Joseph’s transfer Lamarr Kimble and freshman David Johnson had not showed that they could take over the starting job. “Fresh” Kimble who is a senior, finally showed that poise and experience you would expect from a senior guard. Against UK, Kimble had a solid 12 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals. On the stat line, it doesn’t set the world on fire, but he played as good as this team would need him to. “Fresh” made some nice passes, was getting into the lane making tough baskets, and most importantly did not turn the ball over. Now this is just one performance, but I do think Kimble will get more minutes and possibly take over the starting role. For now, it’s just good to see that they have depth there. The shooting guard position is a different story, but let’s see how this point guard situation shakes out. Kimble could be the answer.
5. The ACC isn’t as tough this season.
I have no idea what the best conference is this season because college basketball is all over the place this year. What I do know is that Louisville’s path should not be as treacherous as it normally is in conference play. At the moment, only three teams left on the Cards schedule are ranked – Virginia, Duke, and Florida State. Of course, it’s still hard to win the road no matter who you play and there’s still tons of talent in the ACC, but it’s not a monster this time. North Carolina lost Cole Anthony and now might have their worst roster in years. Georgia Tech and Clemson are at .500, Wake Forest and Syracuse aren’t a threat, and UofL has already beaten Miami and Pittsburgh handily. Even the three teams who are ranked arguably had better rosters last season. I’m not saying it will be a cake walk by any means, but Louisville upgraded from last season and I’m not sure I could say the same about the other top teams in the ACC. This is as great an opportunity as UofL has ever had to win the conference.
This concludes the first ever post I have published on our website! I’m not going to lie, I’m giddy as can be. No, really I am. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and I hope we all can accomplish some personal goals for 2020.