The No. 2 University of Louisville men’s basketball team come into the 2012-13 season with high expectations based in large part on the players returning from the Final Four run a year ago. Returning starters Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan have received preseason accolades, but may not be the most critical part of the team.
Enter Luke Hancock, a 6-6 junior who sat out the 2011-12 season after transferring from George Mason. Hancock provides versatility to the U of L lineup; he will start at small forward, but can also play point guard.
Hancock began his career at George Mason, earning all-rookie team honors in the Colonial Athletic Association his freshman year, then averaging 10.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in his sophomore campaign.
Hancock sat out last season after transferring but was able to practice with the team. In U of L head coach Rick Pitino’s final press conference of the spring, he announced Hancock and Siva as co-captains for the 2012-13 season.
Pitino has called him the most complete player on the team and expects him to do a little of everything this year.
“He’s not a young kid, he’s been through it, with five seconds left in the game if you need to inbound the ball against a press, have him inbound it. If you need somebody to make a shot, have him take the shot. If you need somebody to make the play, have him make the play. If you need a steal or rebound, he’ll make it. He’s a big time gamer is what. As of this basketball team, he is much needed,” Pitino said.
Like many Cards over the past few years, Hancock has struggled with injuries; he separated his shoulder in late April and had surgery on it for precautionary reasons. He is still receiving treatment for it as the season begins.
“It’s been a little up and down, which I kind of knew it would be, some days you feel great, some days you don’t,” Hancock said. “I have learned a lot, my injury kind of held me back this summer, but I feel like I’m getting there. I’m getting ready to go.”
Pitino has been adamant about his ability.
“The key to our team though, no question, is Luke Hancock. We need him on the court, he’s an 80 percent foul shooter, a good three point shooter, he knows how to pass, knows how to play and he will be ready,” Pitino said.
“We want to win the Big East,” said Hancock, “and make a deep run into the tournament, you know everyone wants to win a national championship, I don’t really have personal goals, we just want to win games,” Hancock said.
Photo: Tricia Stern/The Louisville Cardinal