The Cardinals spent last season adjusting to various injuries to nearly the entire roster, the most notable being starting forward Jared Swopshire, who sat out the whole year. The result was an overachieving season (25-10, 13-6 in Big East), but a tough ending.
Is 2011-12 more of the same?
Prize recruit Wayne Blackshear – who was expected to start on the wing – will miss the season due to a torn labrum. Forward Rakeem Buckles – another likely starter – is still rehabbing from a torn ACL and won’t be ready until mid-December at the earliest.
Throw in nagging injuries to three other players and a still-recovering Swopshire and Louisville’s essentially back to where it was last season – solid in its starting five, but without much depth.
“That starting five, they’re ready to go, especially at the offensive standpoint,” coach Rick Pitino said. “The next five, it’s been very difficult getting them ready.”
Coming on the heels of not receiving a Big 12 invite, Cardinals fans are more than a little miffed at the news. Who wouldn’t?
Blackshear, a 5-star recruit who averaged more than 32 points a game as a high school senior, was the likely candidate to assume some the scoring needed by Preston Knowles’ graduation. Pitino has high praise for one of his other newcomers, freshman Chane Behanon, but the depth has to be an issue.
Until Buckles is back and healthy and Swopshire’s in playing shape, Louisville will probably be over-dependent on guard Peyton Siva and its outside shooters – Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith and Mike Marra. It’s still a squad capable of reaching the Final Four, but their margin for error just got smaller.
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