The University of Louisville men's basketball team enters the new season as the defending national champions with a target on its back. The Cardinals are trying to become the first team to capture back-to-back titles since Florida in 2006-07.
Even though this team lost two of its biggest contributors - Peyton Siva, and Gorgui Dieng - there doesn't look to be much of a drop off with the talented incoming class along with some talented returnees. But who is the most improved?
Cardinal Authority spoke with members of the current U of L team, asking them who is the Most Improved Player on the roster. The answer vary:
Mangok Mathiang: "Montrezl Harrell, he's just a hard working kid, and there is never a day where he steps on the court that he doesn't give it his all, and the fact that he keeps pushing himself makes the team do the same."
Final Four MVP Luke Hancock, walk-on David Levitch and freshman Akoy Agau all three echoed Mathiang's sentiments about Harrell being the guy, with Hancock noting that he "is a totally different player this year, he's so much more confident."
Stephen Van Treese: "Wayne has improved a lot, I think he is more confident in his shot, and he is healthier than he has ever been, and he has gotten stronger, and just has been doing a great job for us here lately."
Wayne Blackshear: "I think everybody took this offseason, and worked their butts off, because they know what is at stake for us this season."
Russ Smith: "Chris (Jones) is an upperclassman, and knows what it is on an experience level."
Kevin Ware: "Just Russ (Smith) turning into a true point guard and him learning how to do other things other than score, and his overall improvement as a contributor."
Smith, the team's co-captain and a preseason All-American, also got the vote of freshmen Anton Gill and Terry Rozier and JUCO transfer Chris Jones as the most improved.
Montrezl Harrell answered this question before junior Chane Behanan was suspended and said the forward had "really gotten better."
"Chane has really improved a lot with ball handling, and as you could see in the last scrimmage he has become a lot more consistent shooting the ball," Harrell said.