After thinking about it for a few days, I finally made my votes on the poll. I checked up on the results as the week went on, just to get a feel for how everyone else was voting. That clearly didn’t influence my picks as you will see. When the question was first thrown at me a few weeks ago in a group text chat by Chris Tingley, it immediately started a debate: Who would your starting 5 be at Louisville in the Rick Pitino era? Everyone has their favorite players that just can’t be replaced by anyone else, and everyone has their reasons why they may have chosen certain players. So here is my starting 5 with a few reasons…
Point Guard- Reece Gaines
Peyton Siva won this one in a runaway on the polls, getting 63% of the votes to Reece’s 34%. To me, it was never even a thought; I chose Reece Gaines from the start. I will take the 6’6 point guard that can score in multiple ways, including a good jumper. I saw someone post on a message board that it was crazy for anyone to not take Siva since he led his team to the title. Reece wasn’t exactly on a stacked team built for a National Championship run. He had 2 years of Denny Crum (still the best ever to me) and 2 years of Rick Pitino. So obviously the team was in rebuilding mode for his 2 seasons under Pitino, and Gaines was still able to be a 1st round pick in the NBA Draft.
When we did Talkin Noiz on Thursday on 1080 AM, Steve said he would take Siva and he would just drive around Gaines. I reminded him of the Syracuse length that always caused Siva trouble and I will keep my 6’6 point guard. He then said he would take Gaines, and at the time that I am typing this, I am not sure if he really changed his mind or not.
Here is one of the best moments in Louisville basketball history (to me). I know Jeremy used this video already, but there is no way to talk about Reece and NOT show this, so enjoy again!
Shooting Guard- Russ Smith
The debate here for me was with Taquan Dean, one of the best shooters in UofL history. But I decided I was going to choose players as if I was really building a team that would play in real games because well, that just makes it more fun. So if my team ever struggled to score, or if shots were not falling (had I chosen Dean), we would need someone to get buckets. Who better than Russ? If the jumpers aren’t going and we need a spark, we unleash Russ for points. Also, that gives me some great backcourt defense between Russ and my 6’6 point guard.
Oh, and he can do this…
Small Forward- Francisco Garcia
This one was easy for me. I will take the guy who can shoot, drive, pass like a point guard, handle the ball like a point guard, rebound, defend, and be fearless. Garcia will always be one of my favorite players to ever play for Louisville because of everything he could do as well as the passion he played with. Garcia won this one easily in the polls too, and for good reason to me. Some may say Terrence Williams is the easy choice because he can get a triple-double at any time. But on my team, character counts, and I just don’t care for his and never really did. So this one was a no-brainer for me.
If I need a late shot and Reece or Russ aren’t open?
Power Forward- Montrezl Harrell
The popular pick here was Earl Clark, and I have no problem with that. It just seemed like Clark took some games or plays off, or put his head down sometimes and got too down on himself. Montrezl has a motor that doesn’t seem to stop. And on this team with my scoring from Russ, Francisco, and Reece, Montrezl just needs to focus on rebounding and playing solid defense. He will get his easy dunks, but there shouldn’t be any pressure on him to be the man on offense. The way he played in the Big East Championship last season against Syracuse was incredible. That was definitely his breakout game. And he may have only scored 2 points in the National Championship, but wow was it a big 2?!
Center- David Padgett
Just like the point guard spot, this one was easy for me, and it was not the top choice of the fans. I understand the love for Gorgui, but my center will be Padgett and I won’t think twice about it. The way the offense ran through him was fun to watch. Throw the ball in the post, and he will score or make the correct pass nearly every time. He was the quarterback of the defense. Having him under the basket directing the entire defense on where to go was very under-appreciated. I am not sure that people realized just how important that Padgett was to UofL. I hate it for him that he had so many knee issues. Which is another reason why I want him on my team, he is a miracle worker! Pitino basically said his career was over because of his knees, and Padgett returned like 7 seconds later didn’t he? Give me someone like that!
Of course there isn’t a very good video out there of David Padgett, and that’s ok. He is my leader anyways and doesn’t need the flashy highlight video. Whenever the egos need to be put in check, Padgett will be the guy to do it.
I am going to pretend that Rick Pitino is saying “Just bring it” in this picture. So that’s what I say if you want to try and stop this team. Bring it!
The Rock agrees.