Late last week the college basketball crew at CBS Sports put out their rankings for the best back courts in college hoops for the 2013-14 season. CBS had Louisville at No. 2 behind the Memphis Tigers. Jeff Goodman of ESPN published an article (Insider) on Monday with his back-court rankings and had the Cards No. 1. Here is his reasoning.
I’m taking the Louisville backcourt group over the veteran crew in Memphis, and the Cardinals as the top team in the American Athletic Conference.
Sure, Peyton Siva and his leadership abilities are gone, but coach Rick Pitino still has Russ Smith, Luke Hancock (the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four) and Wayne Blackshearback from last season’s team. Pitino has also added junior college standout Chris Jones — who will handle the majority of the ballhandling duties — and freshman guards Terry Rozierand Anton Gill.
That’s depth, talent, and three players who have been there and done that.
Sure, Memphis won 31 games and even got its first NCAA tournament notch in the Pastner regime. But more than half the victories came in a putrid Conference USA. Smith, Hancock and Blackshear did it in a “big boy” league, the old Big East. Those three players know what it’s like to win games at the highest level; expect all three to come back with a different mindset.
Hancock should be better than the player he was for much of last season, when he was unable to consistently knock down shots from beyond the arc. He’s healthy now, and his confidence has soared after averaging 21 points and knocking down 8-of-10 3s in the two games at the Final Four in Atlanta.
Blackshear also is healthy after dealing with multiple shoulder injuries throughout his first two seasons. The key will be Jones, and whether he can provide leadership and distribute the ball to guys like Smith, Hancock, Blackshear and big man Montrezl Harrell.
It may sound ridiculous, but this year’s back-court has a chance to be the best in the Pitino era, in my opinion. In regards to overall talent and depth, Pitino has more to work with this year than he ever has at Louisville.
Goodman had Duke at No. 3, Oklahoma State at No. 4 and Kentucky at No. 5. Click here to read full Insider Article.