2023-24 Louisville men's basketball season preview

Louisville Cardinals

2022-23 record: 4-28

Head coach: Kenny Payne 

Career coaching record: 4-28

Tenure at Louisville: Second season

Home court: KFC Yum! Center

Projected starters: G Sky Clark, G/F Curtis Williams, G/F Mike James, F JJ Traynor, C Dennis Evans

Bench: G Tre White, F Kaleb Glenn, G Ty-Luar Johnson, F Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, F/C Emmanuel Okorafor, G Hercy Miller, G Koron Davis

Overview: A program which found most of its recent success under head coach Rick Pitino, Louisville looks to bounce back after a disappointing 2022-23 season. The Cardinals have struggled ever since the departure of Pitino after he was found guilty of an NCAA Level I charge in 2017. However, this year looks to be different, as head coach Kenny Payne will try to get the team back into March Madness for the first time in four years.

The Cardinals 2023 recruiting class was ranked sixth nationally by 247 Sports. Although the team lost key players, including the top scorer El Ellis to Arkansas, redshirt sophomore Mike James and senior JJ Traynor are back after having great campaigns last year. Both of them are poised to get more playing time as leaders of the starting five. Sharing the court with them are freshmen guard Curtis Williams and center Dennis Evans who flashed their potential in the Cardinals’ 91-50 exhibition win against Simmons College. Williams showed his elite scoring ability, recording 15 points to lead all scorers. Evans, who is listed as 7-foot-1, racked up a solid nine points and nine rebounds. The addition of the freshmen, especially Williams, will not only boost Louisville’s offensive prowess, but will hopefully contribute to improving one of the team’s biggest problems last year — turnovers. Last year, the team averaged a staggering 14.9 turnovers per game which was probably the reason why they struggled to put points on the board. 

If the Cardinals are able to rely on Williams and Tre White as consistent and trustworthy ball handlers, the Cardinals are certainly poised to have a much better campaign this year. The biggest question is regarding James’ improvement and willingness to embrace a leadership role alongside Traynor. The sooner veterans like James connect with the talented freshmen class, the more likely it will be for Louisville to improve overall. 

Team ceiling: Above-average point scoring and a reduction of turnovers helps propel the Cardinals to a middle-of-the-pack ACC finish and an outside shot at the NCAA tournament. 

Team floor: The short-comings on the court come as a result of lack of depth and experience, and the Cardinals aren’t able to increase their offensive production very much. Louisville finishes at the bottom of the league once again. 


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