Chris Mack’s Louisville basketball team has been elite from deep this season and are on pace to be the best shooting team since one of my favorites.
With Ryan McMahon and Jordan Nwora out on the floor for Louisville basketball, it’s not hard to see why the Cardinals have been one of the most elite three-point shooting teams in all of college basketball this season.
Louisville has shot the ball well all year, having multiple games where they were unstoppable from deep.
Along with Nwora and McMahon, Louisville has shown the ability to shoot from deep with a ton of guys on their roster.
Darius Perry (41.7 percent), Fresh Kimble (36.6 percent), David Johnson (36.4 percent), Dwayne Sutton (34.4 percent), Samuell Williamson (33.3 percent) and Steven Enoch (32.0 percent) have all shown an improved ability to stroke it from deep, helping the Louisville offense become one of the most explosive and dangerous offenses in all the land.
While Louisville had shot the ball fairly well to begin the season, their shooting during their 10-game winning streak has been other-worldly.
Against Virginia, Louisville continued their impressive shooting but it came against one of the top defenses in the country. Virginia allowed just 29.4 of opponents three-point shots to fall before allowing the Cardinals to hit 41 percent from deep, led by Jordan Nwora and Darius Perry.
Following their win, Chris Mack said of his teams shooting:
“I’ve said it all year, I think Ryan (McMahon) and Jordan (Nwora) are elite ELITE level shooters. And I also think a guy like Darius (Perry) when he doesn’t have the pressure of running the point at times is a really good three-point shooter. The other guys get a little confidence from watching their teammates shoot the ball. We can shoot it.”
If Chris Mack has ever said anything truer than “we can shoot it,” I’d love to know what and when. We knew the 2019/20 team had the potential to be a great shooting team with the return of Ryan McMahon and Jordan Nwora, but I don’t think anyone thought it would be possible for them to be this hot after shooting just 34.2 percent from deep last season with the same team.
In fact, Chris Mack’s 2019-2020 team has developed into the best three-point shooting team at Louisville since 2004-2005, a team known for their ability to shoot the ball at the highest level.
A lot of great shooters have played their college basketball for Louisville since the 2004-05 team led by guards Taquan Dean, Larry O’Bannon and sharpshooting wing, Francisco Garcia. You think back to the likes of Luke Hancock, Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith, Russ Smith, Trey Lewis, Damion Lee, Mike Marra (arguably the greatest high school shooter of all time?), Quentin Snider, and plenty of others who have been great to elite three-point shooters to wear the red and black for the Cards.
However, none of those respective teams shot the ball at the level that the Cards of 2019-20 are currently shooting. Since Louisville’s incredible 2004-05 where they shot the ball at 44.7 percent from three, the Cards have had just four teams shoot over 36 percent from deep since including the 2008 Elite 8 team led by Terrence Williams and Earl Clark, the 2010 team led by Preston Knowles, the 2013 Sweet 16 team led by Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, as well as the 2017 team which didn’t make the NCAA tournament.
Louisville 3-point shooting percentages since 2004
- 2018 – 34.2 percent (First round)
- 2017 – 37.0 percent (NIT)
- 2016 – 35.8 percent (Second round)
- 2015 – 34.7 percent (Tournament ban)
- 2014 – 30.4 percent (Elite 8)
- 2013 – 37. 1 percent (Sweet 16)
- 2012 – 33.1 percent (National Championship)
- 2011 – 31.1 percent (Final four)
- 2010 – 36.1 percent (Second round)
- 2009 – 33.9 percent (First round)
- 2008 – 36.0 percent (Elite 8)
- 2007 – 34.2 percent (Elite 8)
- 2006 – 33.2 percent (Second round)
- 2005 – 35.0 percent (NIT)
- 2004 – 44.7 percent** (Final Four)
The 2004-05 Louisville team was one that was marked by their ability to shoot the ball from deep, which was on full display for the nation to see during their run to the final four. That team featured five prominent players shooting over 36 percent from deep including Taquan Dean who shot 44.7 percent, Larry O’Bannon at 42.5 percent, Brandon Jenkins at 41.2 percent, Juan Palacios at 38.5 percent and of course, Louisville’s marksman, Francisco Garcia who shot just 36.6 percent that year.
This season Louisville is quickly approaching similar numbers as McMahon, Nwora, and Perry are all currently shooting above 40 percent from deep, with Fresh Kimble, David Johnson, Dwayne Sutton, and even big Steven Enoch shooting anywhere from 32 to 37 percent.
There aren’t a lot of teams who have the ability to completely flip a game upside down with their shooting like Louisville has shown. With Nwora leading the way with 143 attempts from three, a number likely to come close to surpassing Dean’s total of 273 from 2004-05, expect that percentage to only improve.
Louisville will continue to live and die by the three, and if they shoot as they have during the last 10-games, the Cards should almost be a lock for another trip back to the Final Four in Atlanta.