CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville basketball team is likely to be voted one of the teams to beat when the results of the Atlantic Coast Conference media poll is released Thursday.
Insiders like Andy Katz of NCAA.com and Mike Waters, the president of the U.S. Basketball Writers, said they picked the Cardinals to win the league.
But U of L head coach Chris Mack will not have his complete 13-member team when the Cards begin their sixth ACC season at Miami on Nov. 5.
Do not expect junior Malik Williams, the team’s best frontcourt defender, or freshman guard David Johnson to play.
Mack said that both players are progressing on (or ahead of) schedule from offseason surgery. He said there were no plans to rush either guy into the lineup.
Williams is two weeks into recovery from surgery to repair a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot. That can be a challenging injury. A broken fifth metatarsal cost former U of L guard Milt Wagner most of the 1984-85 season.
Mack said Williams remains on a timetable to return within six to eight weeks, unlikely to be ready for the Miami game.
“I think he's just finished with week two from the surgery,” Mack said. “If he was on the six-week timeframe, it would be a couple of days before we play Miami.
“I highly doubt he'll be able to go by then. We want to be very cognizant of making sure we bring him back at the right time ... Malik is in a boot. So it is hard to really judge his progress so far.”
At 6 feet 11 inches and 245 pounds, Williams gives the Cardinals a guy who can defend on the block or away from the basket. A year ago, Williams was Louisville’s fifth leading scorer, averaging 7.7 points per game with a rebounding average of 6.6. Williams also led the Cards in blocks with 41.
Williams, along with seniors Ryan McMahon and Dwayne Sutton, were voted team captains by the players for this season.
Johnson underwent surgery in July to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-shooting) shoulder. The original forecast was that the injury would sideline Johnson for four to eight months.
Mack said that he hoped Johnson would return to practice in about six weeks.
“He's far ahead of schedule,” he said. “They gave us the timeline of four to eight months, and I think it is going to be closer to four. He saw a doctor the other day, and the doctor said six weeks from today we think he can be back on the court playing for us.
“You can get the calendars out, check when that is. I'm not really quite sure. That's really good news for our team. David has great size at his position. I think his IQ for the game is really terrific and will help us on both ends of the floor.”
Johnson is 6 feet 5 inches tall and 210 pounds. Although he missed six games last season with a knee injury, Johnson returned to lead Trinity to the Kentucky High School state title. He was named the MVP of the Sweet Sixteen as well as a Kentucky all-star.
Johnson averaged 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and four assists at Trinity.
Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.