THE NEW NORMAL
With Rick Pitino fired after 16 seasons in charge, and two assistants placed on administrative leave in the wake of the FBI's investigation into college hoops recruiting, this season is bound to be filled with turmoil. (Pitino maintains he has no knowledge of an alleged payment given to the family of top recruit Brian Bowen by a Louisville assistant coach.)
But interim coach DAVID PADGETT, a 32-year-old who played forward for Pitino from 2005--06 through '07--08 and joined his staff in '14, says onlookers shouldn't expect this year's team to be all that much different on the court. "The things we've been doing the last 15, 16 years have been very successful," Padgett says. "I think it'd be crazy to try to change it."
So if opponents thought they'd get a break from the relentless pressure that has helped Louisville rank in the top eight nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency for seven straight seasons, that's not going to happen. Senior QUENTIN SNIDER, a steady-handed point guard who helped lead the Cardinals to the 2015 Elite Eight, will provide continuity on both sides of the ball. "He knows what to do," Padgett says. "He's been through it."
With Bowen suspended indefinitely due to the pending investigation, wing DENG ADEL must become the primary scorer for the team. It may take some time for a new normal to set in, but Padgett still has the talent to end the season with a deep run in the NCAAs.
PROJECTED TEAM STATS
With 2017--18 projections for the top six scorers
COACH DAVID PADGETT (1ST SEASON)
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Deng Adel [Starter] 6'7" Jr.
Quentin Snider [Starter] 6'2" Sr.
V.J. King [Starter] 6'6" Soph.
Ray Spalding [Starter] 6'10" Jr.
Malik Williams 6'11" Fr.
Anas Mahmoud [Starter] 7'0" Sr.
Rick Pitino kept V.J. KING on a short leash last season, using him primarily to give wing Deng Adel a breather. King averaged just 5.5 points in 13.5 minutes as a freshman, but this year he'll be expected to significantly increase that output as he sees more playing time.