Marvin joins the party!
You can slice anyway you want but the story tonight is Marvin Stone. The former McDonald's All-American has become a looming presence on the Cardinal bench for nearly a year since his transfer from heated rival Kentucky last December. The 6'10 center from Birmingham, AL will likely jump right into the starting lineup tonight against Bobby Gonzalez's Manhattan Jaspers.
Stone adds something that's been lacking in the Cardinal program for several years. Size in the middle! With Stone, the Cards now have a legitimate post presence on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Kentucky coach Tubby Smith often called Stone the best post defender in his program. What will those defensive skills mean for this Louisville team? It should provide Coach Pitino's aggressive perimeter defenders the opportunity to play even more aggressively out on the floor. Stone's presence in the lane should provide Louisville's guards the confidence to gamble a little more with full knowledge that there's now someone capable around the basket to help out. And with that increased gambling and aggressiveness on the perimeter the fans should be treated to more steals and dunks from this group as the season goes on.
More importantly though, Stone affords Coach Pitino the option of moving several players back to their more natural positions. Ellis Myles will now be able to slide over to the power forward slot and won't continually be at a size disadvantage. Likewise, Pitino now has the ability to move 6'7 Luke Whitehead from the power forward position over to the small forward slot to take advantage of his size, strength and athletic ability where he'll be tough for many opposing small forwards to keep off the boards.
And I guarantee that Louisville's outside shooters are jumping for joy with the thought of Marv in the lineup. Opponents won't have the luxury to simply concentrate on shutting down Louisville from the perimeter because Stone's offensive talents will demand opponents play honestly and defend the low post or risk Stone putting up big numbers in the paint. Marvin's ability to step out and shoot the ball from the perimeter should open up the lane for either Myles or Dartez to post up one on one or for cutters from the wing. Being a excellent passing big man, Marvin will have plenty of assist opportunity's to player's posting up or wing players cutting to the basket for layups. And he'll also knock down the occasional jumper if opposing centers don't step out and defend.
So when it's all said and done, Marvin Stone's addition to this team is certainly much more than another body on the roster or an additional five fouls to give in the middle. He should be a key piece to the puzzle this season as Louisville takes aim at its first C-USA Title and NCAA Tournament bid since 2000.
Marvin Stone's stat's at Kentucky