Men's spring preview: Big East

Men's spring preview: Big East

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Men's spring preview: Big East

Since joining the Big East before the 2005-06 season, Louisville has finished no worse than third at the Big East Conference Championship. That run includes two titles (2007, ’09) and four runner-up finishes, including last season.

Now, the next step is having similar success at the NCAA Regional level. The Cardinals have advanced to just two NCAA Championships in school history, finishing 10th in 2008 and 27th in 2007.

Louisville might have one of its deepest squads in head coach Mark Crabtree’s 13 seasons as the Cardinals’ coach. Six players finished the fall with a scoring average in the 73s. Two more posted scoring averages in the 74s.

“One thing I was pleased with during the fall was our consistency,” Crabtree said. “We’re trying to put together a team with good depth and we got some solid production from a bunch of different guys in the fall.

“We don’t have that one guy that leads the show, but we have a solid group 1-5 that can produce.”

With that said, the Cardinals have gotten a lot of contribution from underclassmen. Freshmen Maximilian Walz and Robin Sciot-Siegrist led the team with 73.0 scoring averages during the fall. Sophomores Antoine LeSaux and Henry Tomlinson, and freshman Gus Lundquist also logged three or more tournaments last fall.

“It’s exciting because you have guys transitioning from high school and some coming from overseas,” Crabtree said. “Their excitement level is high. Their enthusiasm level is high. It’s a nice challenge.

“I’ve had teams in the past have success, but most of them have been experienced teams. We haven’t had that recently, but we’re really starting to turn the corner with these young guys.”

The Cardinals, who won their host tournament, the Cardinal Intercollegiate, last fall, finished runner-up three times during the fall season. Their second-place finishes came behind the likes of Missouri, Auburn and Jacksonville State.

They’ve become familiar playing in the lead pack and that could come in handy playing against South Florida and two-time defending Big East champ Notre Dame at the Big East Conference Championship later this spring.

But finishing second might not cut it this spring. If things go like they have the past few years, only the conference champ will advance to an NCAA Regional.

That alone makes it conference title or bust for Crabtree and the Cardinals.

“No doubt about that,” Crabtree said. “We’ve been close, but these young guys haven’t gotten there yet. They’re eager to get out there and win, and get Louisville back (to winning conference titles).”

• • •

Where it stands now

Top of the class: Louisville

Best player this fall: Trey Valentine, South Florida

• • •

Past champions

2012: Notre Dame

2011: Notre Dame

2010: Georgetown

2009: Louisville

2008: Marquette

• • •

Conference capsules

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