During the 2003-04 season, Louisville only had three players over 6"7. Those players were Kendall Dartez, Otis George and Nouha Diakite. Only Dartez and George received significant minutes per game. So the Cardinals needed size.
James Lang at 6"10 fit the mold, but had actually decommitted from UL. However, he was reportedly still considering them. He was likely advised to keep his options open since Lang had committed early. Hometown school UAB was rumored to have tried to convince him to stay in Alabama. Kentucky was after his services as well. Nevertheless, I think he still ends up with the Cardinals.
Fransico Garcia, Luke Whitehead, Taquan Dean and Larry O'Bannon provided most of the UL scoring during the 2003-04 season. All they needed, in addition to size, was a skilled big man who possessed what Lang had.
If Lang plays similar to how he did in high school, the Cardinals become a dangerous team. Their seeding in the 2004 NCAA tournament changes, and as a result they advance (barring an upset) to the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight. Or with favorable matchups they could have went further.
Sebastian Telfair would have joined the team in 2004. Taquan Dean was the starting point guard. Therefore Telfair spends his first two seasons as the primary backup or possibly at shooting guard.
The starting lineup likely is Dean, James Lang, Larry O'Bannon, Francisco Garcia, and Ellis Myles. The bench consists of Telfair, Juan Palacios, Otis George and Brandon Jenkins.
If this is the Louisville Cardinals rotation headed into the 2005 NCAA tournament, this is either the eventual champions or runner-up. Or they become discussed as a team that did not live up to their potential. Rick Pitino would have the right mix of scoring, size and experience to achieve a championship.
James Lang enters the 2005 NBA draft. Sebastian Telfair remains in hopes to increase his draft stock.
Amir Johnson, in my scenario, joins the team and replaces Lang. However, in real life UL head coach Rick Pitino was unsure if Johnson was still enrolling there.
"Well, I haven't heard too much from Amir Johnson. All the other guys are calling me constantly and I don't hear too much from him. So, I don't know about that one," Pitino said.
But continuing with the "what if he does not enter the draft" argument, Johnson becomes either an immediate starter or key contributer off the bench. David Padgett is likely a solid starter at the center position. So Johnson competes with Juan Palacios for minutes at the power forward position.
I think Coach Pitino goes with a starting lineup of Taquan Dean, Sebastian Telfair, Terrence Williams, Juan Palacios and David Padgett as well as Amir Johnson and Brandon Jenkins being the first off the bench.
Telfair and Johnson add some scoring help that Louisville was missing during the 2005-06 season, which would allow the team to win more games. It also gives the Cardinals an appearance in the NCAA Tournament instead of the NIT. However, they would still sorely be in need of more offensive weapons and not go far in the tourney.