SI Vault
 
19 Louisville
Kelli Anderson
November 24, 2003
The key to a guard-oriented offense will be a short power forward facing a tall order
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 24, 2003

19 Louisville

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

View CoverRead All Articles

STARTING LINEUP

POS.

PLAYER

HT.

CL.

KEY STAT

SF

Francisco Garcia#

6'7"

Soph.

11.2 ppg

PF

Luke Whitehead#

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#

6'3"

Soph.

8.8 ppg

#RETURNING STARTER

* Junior College

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 himself.

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 says.

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 swing-man 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 talent-wise," he says, "but our desire to be a good tournament team will be there."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

1