Louisville coach Rick Pitino says Cardinals are 1 year from 'mini-dynasty'

Andy Lyons

The defending champs have appeared in the last two Final Fours, and their head coach thinks one more will make them a dynasty.

The Louisville Cardinals walked off the court as national champions in April, and they start this season with a chance to win it all again in 2014. Doing so, or even coming close, would make the Cardinals a "mini-dynasty," according to head coach Rick Pitino.

"It's going to be an exciting season," Pitino said. "We are one year away from a potential mini-dynasty -- one year."

Pitino added that the Louisville dynasty would become reality if the Cardinals win another conference championship and advance to a third straight Final Four. Louisville also made it to the national semifinals in 2012 before falling to eventual champion Kentucky.

Louisville will start the season without some key pieces from last year. Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng are both in the NBA, and Chane Behanan was suspended indefinitely last week. The Cardinals do return Russ Smith, who was voted preseason American Athletic Conference player of the year, along with Montrezl Harrell, who was named to the preseason All-AAC second team.

"These guys are totally committed - totally bought into trying to do it again," Pitino said. "Now does it take a little luck? Sure it does. But it takes more than luck. It takes talent, it takes focus, and it takes humility. These guys have it."

Conference coaches picked the Cardinals to win the AAC, and they open the season No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.

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