By Sam Draut–
Men’s Basketball NCAA National Champions
The University of Louisville men’s basketball team enters the 2013-14 season as the defending National Champions.
A team that set the school record with 35 wins in a single season returns three starters, 75 percent of their scoring, 72 percent of their rebounding, and 72 percent of their minutes.
Russ Smith decided against foregoing his senior year, he averaged 18.7 points per game and will be a preseason favorite for the Naismith College Player of the Year.
Juniors Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear are the other returning starters. Behanan is the leading rebounder and second leading scorer returning, he averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season. Blackshear added 7.6 points per game in 2012-13.
Louisville returns one captain from the National Championship team, senior forward Luke Hancock returns after being named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player and averaging 8.1 points per game throughout the year.
Sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell averaged 5.7 points per game and should see expanded minutes in 2013-14 with the departure of Gorgui Dieng.
Kevin Ware will continue to rehab during the summer months with the prospect of returning in the late fall.
The Cardinal 2013 recruiting class ranks in the top 10 in every major site, bringing in elite talent to create a deep back court despite the loss of three year starting point guard Peyton Siva.
Point guard Terry Rozier headlines the class, he holds a five star ranking and graded as the third best point guard on Scout.com.
The top Junior College point guard Chris Jones comes to Louisville to potentially replace Siva. Four star shooting guard Anton Gill and three star center Akoy Agau round out the four member class.
The 2012-13 season marked the formal ending of the traditional Big East conference, with this, Louisville enters into a one year stint in the American Athletic Conference before moving to the ACC in 2014.
The American Athletic Conference will include Louisville, Rutgers, Central Florida, Temple, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida.
Expectations will remain high for the 2013-14 season, the Cardinals will likely debut in the preseason top 10 in most media polls for the third consecutive year.
The University of Louisville women’s basketball team looks to respond after their historic 2012-13 season, the team finished 29-9 and appeared in the National Championship game.
The Cardinals return 88 percent of their scoring and 87 percent of their rebounding from a team that finished with the second most wins in school history.
U of L returns a majority of their roster, including leading scorer Shoni Schimmel, who averaged 14.2 points per game. The team’s leading rebounder Sara Hammond will return for her junior year, she averaged 6.4 rebounds to go along with 10.8 points per game.
Antonita Slaughter averaged 10.1 points per game and the second leading made three point field goals for the team.
Bria Smith’s 78 steals led the team and she also averaged 9.5 points per game. Smith transitioned to the point guard spot during Big East play, she returns for her junior year in 2012-13.
Jude Schimmel saw an expanded role from her freshman year, and as a sophomore averaged 5.7 points per game while finishing behind Smith with 74 steals.
Starting center Sheronne Vails averaged four points per game. Guard Megan Deines received meaningful minutes throughout the year and averaged 4.9 points per game, while forward Cortnee Walton added 2.8 points per game.
Through six years, U of L head coach Jeff Walz is 148-65, owning the second most wins in program history.
The 2012-13 season lost key players due to injuries, senior to be Tia Gibbs struggled with a shoulder and hip injury, while Shawnta Dyer played the first 11 games before tearing her ACL.
The Cardinals add freshman guard Emmonnie Henderson, an ESPN HoopGurlz top 50 recruit. Transfer guard Monny Niamke will be eligible to play the 2013-14 after sitting out one season.
The 2012-13 season marked the formal ending of the traditional Big East conference. With this, Louisville enters into a one year stint in the American Athletic Conference before moving to the ACC in 2014.
Photos by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal