Chris Mack’s squad hasn’t been seriously tested yet this season, but the Cards have played very well early regardless of their competition. We may not be learning a lot about this team in games against inferior competition, but Louisville is doing exactly what they’re supposed to do in these games.
It’s impossible to truly know who the best team in college basketball is at this point, but a handful of top ten teams have struggled against similar competition. This doesn’t prove that Louisville is better than those teams, but the Cards are playing well early and aren’t even at full strength.
The backcourt and the frontcourt will add even more depth with the return of Malik Williams and David Johnson. Neither has made an appearance in a game yet, but it sounds like both have been medically cleared.
“I could’ve put them in the game tonight,” Chris Mack said on Sunday night when asked about the progress of Williams and Johnson. “Just because the doctor clears you, they haven’t had their basketball legs under them in so long, especially David. I’m not going to put those guys out there in a 25 or 30 point game just yet. But I could’ve put them in there.”
As improved as Steven Enoch has been this year, Malik Williams is certainly going to see serious playing time once he’s healthy and acclimated. The production might not have always shown, but Williams played a huge role in Louisville being ahead of schedule last year. He was voted a unanimous team captain in the off-season and became a vocal leader for Louisville prior breaking a bone in his right foot. Williams defensive ability and basketball IQ will make it hard to keep him off the floor.
We’ve never seen David Johnson play college basketball, but like Williams, he had generated some buzz prior to suffering an injury. The former Trinity Shamrock made a strong impression on the coaching staff over the summer and is believed to be ready to play meaningful minutes as a true freshman. At 6-foot-5, Johnson has the size to play both guard positions, but in a recent interview he said he’s played only the point guard position in practice.
Considering it’s been nearly six months since Johnson played competitive basketball, he may have a little more rust to shake off than Williams. However, both are expected to be contributors once they’re acclimated with the team.
Mack didn’t say which game he wanted to throw Williams and Johnson out there, but he has certainly hinted that it will be sooner rather than later. Fortunately for Louisville, they won’t need either until at least the next few games. With that said, it would be nice for both to have at least one game under their belt before the Western Kentucky game on Nov. 29.<