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Scouting Notes: Louisville



A deep dive into Louisville and some of the challenges it could give the Indiana basketball program in Sunday's matchup. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

The Indiana basketball program has a quick turnaround, hitting the hardwood again just over 24 hours from its loss to UConn. On Monday, Indiana will square off with Louisville in its final game of the Empire Classic.

Louisville enters at 2-2 on the season in year two under Kenny Payne. The Cardinals are coming off of a 4-28 season in year one. They are an average team on both ends of the floor, rated 108th in KenPom’s offensive efficiency (105.9). They rank 225th in effective field goal percentage (47.1). Defensively, they are rated 201st in efficiency with a 104.5 rating. Overall the Cardinals are rated 144th.

Louisville is coming off of an 81-80 loss to No. 19 Texas in the first matchup of the Empire Classic. It was by far their best performance under Payne.

Here is a deep dive into some of the challenges Louisville could give the Indiana basketball program.

Key Players:

Louisville is led by Michael James in the backcourt. The 6-foot-6 guard is a physical and versatile wing who is best attacking downhill. He has good length and athleticism to finish through contact and over defenders at the rim. He is a much more efficient offensive player this season, as well as the most efficient player for the Cardinals, and is a 35.7 percent shooter from three and 45.9 percent overall. While James can hit from the perimeter, he uses his slashing ability to open up his perimeter play. He a much better shooter off of the catch. James is typically going to look for his shot when he gets into the paint and isn’t much of a playmaker for his teammates. He has the highest offensive rating with qualified minutes for Louisville at 131.1.

Skyy Clark is the other part of the Louisville backcourt. Clark is another physical attacking guard who is best getting to the rim. He has a quick first step and terrific burst and is a a crafty finisher at the basket. But, Clark hasn’t shown to be very efficient. He’s shooting just 28.6 percent from three and before hitting four 3s on Sunday, was 0-of-8 in the first three games. He’s shooting just 39.2 percent overall. Clark has the ability to be a streaky shooter and hit some big shots down the stretch against Texas.  Clark is a decent playmaker for teammates, but is sometimes high-risk, high-reward with the ball in his hands. He has just a 1 to 1 assist to turnover ratio in his career.

Tre White is a hybrid wing who is known for his versatility on both ends of the floor. He has a terrific frame with good length and size — at 6-foot-7. White is typically the initiator of the Louisville offense, holding the highest usage rate on the roster. He is a good passer, but doesn’t pass his teammates open so his playmaking ability is sometimes limited. White is a terrific scorer and can finish at all three levels. He’s best attacking the basket and either using a pull-up jumper around 10-15 feet or creating contact at the rim. Louisville doesn’t need to run plays for White as he’s someone who uses his energy and motor to force the issue. He’s a terrific rebounder on both ends of the floor and averages 2.5 offensive rebounds per game. White is shooting just 38.6 percent from the field, however. Defensively, White can guard numerous positions and has the athleticism and quickness to do so effectively.

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield is a physical and versatile big man up front for the Cardinals. He has good size at 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds, but is a very fluid athlete as well. Huntley-Hatfield is best known for his defensive and rebounding ability. He averages 10 rebounds a game, including 3.8 on the offensive glass — a key stat when going against a struggling Indiana defensive rebounding team. Huntley-Hatfield isn’t someone that is going to kill you on the offensive end scoring the ball, but with Louisville’s lack of efficiency shooting the ball, he provides a safety net and typically gives the Cardinals numerous additional possessions per game. He’s a high motor player on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he has good footwork and strength that allows him to play against back to the basket players as well as more perimeter and driving bigs.

A key perimeter player off of the bench is Ty-Laur Johnson. The 6-foot freshman guard is a quick and shifty guard who is always looking to attack the basket. He ranks in the top-50 in KenPom’s fouls drawn per 40 minutes (7.5) and gets to the foul line 5.8 times per game — converting on 82.6 percent. Johnson isn’t an effective three-point shooter (16.7 percent), so when he has the ball, Indiana needs to understand he’s going to get into the paint and actively seek out contact. He averages 9.5 points in 20.3 minutes per game.

JJ Traynor is a veteran forward for the Cardinals who has split time between the starting lineup and off the bench. He’s 6-foot-8 and another hybrid type front court player who has some versatility. He’s averaging 9.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44.4 percent from three (4-of-9). He has good form and a quick release so is typically used in catch-and-shoot opportunities. Traynor is very smart when it comes to spacing on the floor, so Indiana will need to be aware of him at all times.

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Key Tendencies:

Offensively, Louisville struggles with efficiency but is a very streaky team. They are led by its trio of wings who initiate all of the offense and the scoring. 54 percent of the team’s field goal attempts and 51.7 percent of the team’s made field goals come from Clark, James and White. All three have a usage rate above 20 percent. The Cardinals will play a lot of 4-out basketball and try to create as much spacing as possibility for its guards to attack the basket. Most of Louisville’s field goals are unassisted, so Indiana needs to be able to play good on-ball defense. Only 37.1 percent — rated 332nd — of their field goals come from an assist. They also rank 334th with just 9.8 assists per game. Despite shooting jus 42.9 percent as a team, Louisville grabs 40.8 percent of its misses on the offensive glass and average 16 offensive rebounds per game. This is not a three-point shooting team, with just 20.6 percent of their total points coming from three (326th nationally).

Defensively, Louisville is quite average across the board. Its best asset is having numerous athletes on the court at all times and allowing for frequent switches defensively. The Cardinals have good size all over the court with physicality on the back line of the defense.

Projected Starters:

G- Skyy Clark (Sophomore; 6-3, 200)

Stats: 13.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.8 apg

G- Michael James (Sophomore; 6-6, 195)

Stats: 14.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 35.7% 3pt

G- Tre White (Sophomore; 6-7, 210)

Stats: 14.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 36.4% 3pt

F- Dennis Evans (Freshman; 7-1, 220)

Stats: 2.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.0 bpg

F- Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (Junior; 6-10, 235)

Stats: 7.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.3 spg

Key Notes:

  • Indiana basketball leads the all-time series 11-9, with Louisville winning 4 of the last 5 matchups
  • Kenny Payne and Mike Woodson were assistant coaches for the New York Knicks
  • The Cardinals have held Coppin State and Texas — their last two opponents —  to 5-of-34 from 3-point range (14.7%)
  • The Cardinals are 75-of-104 from the free throw line this season while their opponents have attempted just 73 free throws

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.