- Eric Angevine
Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at a few of the big-profile schools before most freshmen have even moved into their dorms. We continue with Louisville.
2010-11: 25-10 (NCAA tournament - Round of 64)
The Louisville Cardinals aren't dwelling on last season's early tournament ouster -- a 62-61 loss at the hands of 13th-seeded in-state little brother Morehead State -- and they don't think you should, either.
"Sometimes in the tournament you're lucky and sometimes you're unlucky," Cards coach Rick Pitino said. "We had our best player go down with a six-month injury, and that's the breaks of the game, you don't learn anything from that. You give Morehead State credit and you move on."
That injured player, senior Preston Knowles, has used up his eligibility, but he is not the only significant loss the Cardinals suffer heading into the new season. Terrence Jennings, a 6-foot-9 junior forward who spent much of the season as a backup, signed with an agent in May but went undrafted, leaving Louisville with two slots to fill heading into the new season.
But the Cardinals won't lack for bodies as they seek to fill up floor time. Pitino was able to bring in a five-man recruiting haul headlined by four ESPNU 100 talents -- a class that ended up ranked eighth in the nation by ESPN Recruiting -- in part because he was able to persuade three current players to relinquish scholarships to make room for the newcomers. These weren't marginal players, either. Rising senior Kyle Kuric was the team's second-leading scorer behind Knowles, averaging 10.8 points per game. Fellow guard Chris Smith averaged 9.4 points per contest as part of the same fluid backcourt rotation, and Elisha Justice played 10 minutes per game as a freshman. Pitino says each of the three willingly stepped out of his comfort zone for the betterment of the team, and he expects that public display of selflessness and leadership to set the tone for another highly anticipated season in Louisville.
"We have 11 players back," Pitino said. "We only lose one starter, and he was terrific, but still we didn't lose a whole lot."