With futures odds not out yet, we take a look at the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals and see if there’s any possibility of a repeat for 2013-2014.

Head coach Rick Pitino is one of the greatest coaches of all-time, but he has a lot of work to do if he expects to repeat.

Dang, No Dieng

Image previewLosing center Gorgui Dieng is a huge blow to the Cardinals as they don’t have a legitimate replacement. Dieng is expected to be drafted in the middle of the 1st round, he won his championship, and the money and fame were too great to pass up.

Louisiville will look to possibly go small. Austrailian Mangok Mathiang had no playing time in his freshman season while forward/center Zach Price saw under 10 minutes per game in his sophomore season. Price’s minutes will increase and we may see future freshman, Akoy Agau.

Agau is a power forward that’s ranked 84th in ESPN’s top 100 recruits He’s ranked number 1 at his respective position in the state of Nebraska. Agau is a raw player that specializes in tip-ins, put-backs and dump offs., He has a fairly decent touch from mid-range. Agau sounds somewhat of a clone of Dieng. The Cardinals can only hope that they get 1/3 of the production that they got out of Dieng.

The Russ Smith Question

There’s been conflicting reports on whether Smith will turn pro. The problem is that he’s a projected mid-second rounder and for Smith, that’s a risk with no assured money. His father says that he’s leaving for the NBA: Rick Pitino says that Smith is 60-40 to comeback to Louisville, while the public consensus is that he’s 50-50.

This is a tough decision that we’ll have to wait for. If Russ Smith returns to Louisiville, can he move his drafting status into the 1st round? It seems like a a longshot and he surely doesn’t want to play overseas. Stay tuned for the big decision because it carries a lot of weight in Louisville’s 2013-2014 season.

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Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament

Forward, Luke Hancock shocked the world as he went from a pure bench player to a key figure in the Cardinals victory over Michigan for the National Title. Word has it that Hancock is already working out for his senior season.

Luke was the difference in the Championship Game as he lit it up against Trey Burke and Michigan with a barrage of 3 pointers. The consensus is that Hancock isn’t an NBA Player and that is a player that’s streaky.  He averaged 8.1 points per game this season. Is it possible that Luke Hancock proves the world wrong and lifts himself into a drafting status after his senior season? Stranger things have happened, but expect Hancock to improve his level of play as there will be more opportunity on a somewhat depleted Louisville squad.

Beware of Ware

We all saw the gruesome injury to guard Kevin Ware. It made Ware a celebrity, but Rick Pitino just wants to see Ware back in uniform.

The surgery was said to have went well and Ware will be back for his junior season.  Louisville is counting on Chase Behanan (9.8 points, 6.5 rebounds) , Wayne Blackshear, and a healthy Kevin Ware to play a major role on this team. That said, expect Behanan to be the go to guy if Russ Smith indeed leaves for greener pastures.

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The Loss of Siva

Peyton Siva was the heart of this team. He also dominated at times with his quickness and ability to penetrate on teams like Duke. This is a huge loss. Louisville replaces him with junior college point guard Chris Jones and 5 star recruit Terry Rozier. Rozier is similar to Siva with regards to his quickness and body control. The Cards have seemed to cover their losses pretty quickly and don’t expect much of a dropoff.

What To Expect?

Obviously, Russ Smith’s status weighs heavily on the season and losing Gorgui Dieng is a major blow. If Smith returns, expect this team to be a contender, if he leaves, this team will be hard pressed to return to the championship game. Teams like Kentucky and Duke have dominated the recruiting scene and the Wildcats were embarrassed last season. Don’t expect that to happen again.