Chris Mack and the Louisville Cardinals will officially tip off the 2019-20 campaign on Tuesday night at Miami.
Per Vegas Insider, the Cards are 7-point favorites over the Hurricanes.
Miami is coming off a 14-18 season, the only losing season Jim Larrañaga has had in his eight years in Coral Gables.
Let’s take a look at some things to watch for tonight…
With Malik Williams still sidelined, Steven Enoch will be asked to play major minutes for the Cards. We saw what the front court looked like without Enoch in the Bellarmine game and it wasn’t ideal. Chris Mack said earlier this week that he expects Enoch to play after missing the exhibition game with a thigh bruise. Prior to the minor injury, the fifth year senior looked like he was in the best shape of his life.
If Enoch picks up a couple of cheap fouls early Chris Mack could be forced to sit him until later in the game. Having Enoch fresh and out of foul trouble will be crucial tonight. There’s a significant drop-off when the Cards have to rely on the freshmen bigs.
Slowing Down Chris Lykes
As Mack said on Monday, Chris Lykes is the straw that stirs the drink for Jim Larrañaga’s team. The 5-foot-7 guard averaged 16 points last season and was named preseason 2nd team All ACC.
Lykes is a lights out shooter and has a great ability at getting into the paint. I’d imagine Darius Perry will be guarding Lykes to start out. Perry is a pretty solid defender when he makes good decisions, but he’ll certainly need a little help from his teammates. Miami is a dangerous team when Lykes is making plays for his teammates. Despite the 14-18 record a year ago, Miami played some really good teams to the wire before running out of gas.
Fresh Kimble sighting
You never really know what you’re getting with graduate transfers until they arrive and you see them in action. Louisville’s had some luck with the graduate transfer market for the most part.
St. Joe’s transfer Fresh Kimble is expected to be a key contributor for the Louisville backcourt, but we’ve yet to see much from the Philly native. To be clear, there’s no evidence that Kimble can’t be a difference maker for the Cards, but in the Red-White scrimmage and the Bellarmine exhibition he didn’t exactly stand out. In 38 minutes between the two contests Kimble produced just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Although we haven’t seen much yet, I refuse to believe he’s incapable of giving more than what he has thus far. Kimble can play. With that said, he just hasn’t looked comfortable yet. I hope that changes against the Hurricanes.
Chris Mack’s 2019 recruiting class is without a doubt the future of the program and they deserved all the hype they received. However, not many are ready to produce just yet.
Samuell Williamson certainly looks the part and will see major minutes this year. As for the others, I’d expect a limited role. David Johnson is believed to be a guy that can really help the back court, but he’s sidelined until at least late December. Igiehon may be asked to do more until Malik Williams returns, but the Ireland native is still very raw. Jaylen Withers and Quinn Slazinski are legitimate redshirt candidates. Josh Nickelberry is a little bit of a wildcard. I’ve heard good things about how he’s looked since arriving at Louisville, but I don’t necessarily see him stealing minutes from the veteran guards.
Against Miami, Williamson is the only freshman I see having much of a factor. Maybe I’m wrong.<