Malik Williams should be impactful in return

Malik Williams #5 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Malik Williams #5 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

When Chris Mack spoke to the media on Friday evening, many were expecting him to announce how many players Louisville basketball could be without for Saturday’s matchup against North Carolina. With little clarity on that matter given, another surprise was dished out.

Star forward Malik Williams is set to make his debut against the Tar Heels after over three months of absence due to foot surgery. The 6’11” senior is set to play in his first game in nearly a calendar year and he should make an impact right away.

Mack said that his senior center will get a fair bit of run in his first action of the season.

Williams will make an impact right away

Louisville fans should be able to tell immediately what a difference-maker Williams is as a defensive threat. While there will likely be some rust to knock off as he gets eased in to the lineup, there’s no doubting his lateral and straight-line quickness to guard ball screens.

The Cardinals have not had a pure shot blocking presence on the team all season. Adding Williams completely changes the dynamic of the team.

Keep an eye out for lineup changes

When Williams is in the game, pay attention to who his counterparts are and what position they are lined up at. If Jae’Lyn Withers is available, tomorrow’s game could have a big impact on his positioning.

The difference between the way a power forward and a center plays on the offensive end is very different under Chris Mack. It would completely change the complexion of Withers from having to bang inside with big bodies to having the floor opened up to make plays and drive to the hoop with his 6’8″ frame.

Whatever the case, Williams is back and that impact should be immediate. North Carolina boasts three very talented bigs in Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks, and Day’Ron Sharpe.

Throwing Williams into the fray immediately seems rough. But, in this game, he might have to be a huge factor in order to pull off a win.