Without coach Chris Mack, Louisville starts season against Southern

NCAA

Louisville’s basketball team opens the season Tuesday night when Southern visits the Cardinals.

But Louisville coach Chris Mack won’t be there.

Beginning on Monday, Mack will serve a school-imposed suspension that will last until Nov. 27. Louisville admitted Mack was the victim of an extortion attempt by former assistant coach Dino Gaudio but said Mack failed to follow the university’s guidelines and procedures.

Mack, who will lose about $221,000 in compensation while on suspension, will miss the Cardinals’ first six games. He won’t be able to return until their Dec. 1 trip to Michigan State for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

With his pending absence in mind, Mack largely stayed seated Wednesday night when Louisville walloped Division II West Georgia 103-51 in its last exhibition game.

“I don’t want to be a dominant voice through the two exhibition games and then it’s just strange for them to not have that guy on the sideline,” he told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Assistant coach Mike Pegues will run the program during Mack’s absence, which includes four home games and then a trip to the Bahamas to play Mississippi State and either Maryland or Richmond over Thanksgiving weekend.

Louisville was tabbed for a sixth-place finish at the 2021 ACC Tipoff event. Its top player is expected to be 6-11 center Malik Williams, a second-team preseason All-ACC pick.

Southern is coming off an 8-11 season that saw it finish 8-6 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The top returning player is 6-1 senior guard Jayden Saddler, who averaged 11.1 points and 5.3 assists per game. Saddler is a second-team preseason All-SWAC selection.

The Jaguars also will lean on 6-6 forward Terrell Williams, the SWAC Freshman of the Year last season after averaging 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds.

“I know a lot more (about the team) than I did last year,” fourth-year Southern coach Sean Woods told The Advocate of Baton Rouge. “Last year, we didn’t have a chance to get together. You can’t be successful when your team is like an AAU team and you’re practicing once a week when you’re playing two or three games a week.”

–Field Level Media

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