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19 Louisville The key to a guard-oriented offense will be a short power forward facing a tall order

It wasn't until after Cardinals power forward Ellis Myles tore
the patellar tendon in his right knee last February that Luke
Whitehead finally found his calling. Actually, he had it pointed
out to him by his coach and his father. "Coach [Rick] Pitino told
me, 'Either rebound and play or don't rebound and don't play,'"
remembers the 6'6" Whitehead, who had been averaging only 20
minutes a game to that point. His dad, Eddie, a former Cardinal
who, with Wade Houston and Sam Smith, broke the program's color
barrier in 1963, sent Luke old newspaper clippings of his former
teammate Wes Unseld. Though Unseld was only 6'8", he averaged
18.3 rebounds for his career. "My dad was basically saying, if he
could do it at 6'8" you can do it," says Whitehead, now a senior

Duly inspired, Whitehead pulled down a Conference USA
tournament-record 37 boards in three games and earned the MVP
award as Louisville won the event for the first time in eight
years. "I found that when I started focusing on rebounds,
everything else started coming--points, assists and wins," he

This season, with 7-foot Marvin Stone gone and Myles redshirting
to allow his knee a full recovery, Louisville's fortunes will
depend largely on Whitehead's getting the ball to the perimeter
sharpshooters. The guard-oriented offense will feature sophomore
Taquan Dean, a three-point threat at shooting guard last season
who moves to the point; transfer Nate Daniels, a swingman who
averaged 25.6 points for Broward Community College; and small
forward Francisco Garcia, the C-USA Freshman of the Year who
helped the Dominican Republic win its first basketball medal
(silver) at the Pan Am Games in August.

As much as the Cardinals have improved since Pitino arrived two
years ago (from 12-19 in 2000-01 to 25-7 in '02-03), the coach
thinks his team is still a year away from being a contender for
the national title. "We're a little undermanned talentwise," he
says, "but our desire to be a good tournament team will be
there." --K.A.

COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO DIRECT ROUTE Under orders to go to the boards, Whitehead wants to build on his postseason showing.



2002-03 RECORD: 25-7 (11-5, 2nd in C-USA)
TOURNAMENT: Lost to Butler in 2nd round



SF Francisco Garcia[1] 6'7" Soph. 11.2 ppg
PF Luke Whitehead[1] 6'6" Sr. 5.4 rpg
C Kendall Dartez 6'10" Sr. 4.4 ppg
SG Nate Daniels 6'7" Jr. 25.6 ppg*
PG Taquan Dean[1] 6'3" Soph. 8.8 ppg

*Junior college

an opposing coach's view

"They have a lot of guys who can play their style. TAQUAN DEAN
thrives in their system because he's a three-point shooter who
sprints to spots.... FRANCISCO GARCIA has an uncanny ability to
score and can make shots with guys on him, which is rare for a
college player.... NATE DANIELS was a scoring machine in junior
college, and he can really get up and down the floor.... Their
half-court defense is a weakness. They have trouble rebounding on
the defensive end, and you can also run on them off long rebounds
because they take so many threes. But you better get back quickly
on defense because they'll be coming right at you again."


Personal fouls committed per game by the Cardinals last season,
tops in Conference USA and fifth most in the nation.