The Louisville Cardinals may have the most depth and experience they have ever had since Rick Pitino became coach.
The Cards are coming off a great season last year where they won the Big East championship and made it all the way to the Final Four. Louisville is projected to be the best team in the nation according to several analysts, including Dick Vitale of ESPN.
Perhaps where the Cardinals have the most experience is at the guard position. Led by senior point guard Peyton Siva, Louisville's guards are quick and great defenders.
The biggest weakness for the Cardinals' backcourt will be their three point shooting, especially after Mike Marra re-tore his ACL in his left knee which will make him unavailable for this season. Rick Pitino told Andy Katz of ESPN.com that his team will likely make six-to-seven three-pointers a game.
Louisville fans will get their first chance to see their Cards in action October 13 when they have their intrasquad scrimmage in the KFC Yum! Center.
Let's take a look at how each guard will contribute to the Cardinals success this season.
Peyton Siva (Starting Point Guard)
Peyton Siva will be the key to Louisville's success. He will not have the most stats, but Siva will do the small things that the Cardinals need to succeed in their tough schedule.
Last year the 5'11” point guard averaged 9.1 points, 5.6 assists and 1.1 steals a game.
Rick Pitino said via RickPitino.com about Siva, “One of the top point guards in the country.”
The biggest criticism of Siva is his inconsistent shooting. This year the Cardinals have a lot more scorers on their team than in years past. This should allow Siva to play to his strengths of driving to the hole and making smart passes.
Wayne Blackshear (Starting Shooting Guard)
Wayne Blackshear is the best all-around player on the Cardinals' roster. The 6'5” shooting guard was ranked one of the best players in the 2011 class, but wasn't able to show much last season after a shoulder injury.
Blackshear was able to show a little of his skills when he scored 13 points and four rebounds against West Virginia in his college debut.
Rob Dauster of SI.com says of Blackshear's potential this year, “Blackshear could end up being the difference between Louisville having a good year and Louisville being a national title favorite.”
Ware will come off the bench to play shooting guard or point guard. At 6'4” Ware is very long and athletic.
He did not get a chance to play too much last year as a freshman after struggling to become eligible. Rick Pitino has been very impressed with how Ware has done during this year's offseason.
Pitino said of Ware in his blog, “We have reconstructed his jump shot. Looks great and he is becoming more confident with each practice.”
Russ Smith or as he has become known as “Russdiculous” will be the most exciting player for Cardinal fans to watch. He will give the Cardinals a spark off the bench with his ability to score quickly and his feisty defense.
Smith's biggest issue is he is a 6'0” player who thinks he is 7'0”. Smith's fearlessness can get him in trouble, especially when he dribbles deep in the hole.
Although his style of play gives Rick Pitino fits, Smith will be a very important tool for Louisville this season.
Last season Smith averaged 11.5 points and 2.2 steals a game as a sophomore.
Tim Henderson, a walk-on junior from Louisville, KY., will probably not get much playing time due to how much talent and depth Louisville has.
Henderson is a very smart basketball player who has the ability to make shots from the outside.
Last year Henderson played in 11 games, averaging 1.3 points and 0.8 rebounds a game.
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