Being honest with oneself requires an admission of shortcomings with this University of Louisville basketball team.

That’s why one is a bit uncomfortable with the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and all of the analysts who are declaring that UofL is the team to beat. So certain some of them are, including Jay Bilas of ESPN, the most respected analyst of them all.

Chane Behanan’s inability to cleanly catch a pass and go to the basket without dribbling or losing the ball is a real concern. His passing leaves a lot to be desired as well, recalling the muff against Kentucky in the closing minutes of the Final Four game that gave UK the separation they needed. Gorgui Dieng seems to tighten up at times under the really bright lights, wearing that dreaded deer in the headlights look.

Another concern has to be the aggressive defensive play of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith and UofL in general and how it will be construed by non-Big East Conference officials. That is an undeniable key to the heralded defense, which has often leveled the playing field for an uncertain offensive attack.

Forgive the cliche, but even with these shortcomings, this team seems to find inexplicable ways of winning. One has to trust that continues if UofL is to have a legitimate shot at a third national championship.

The difference maker could well be Montrezl Harrell if his game against Syracuse wasn’t a one-time phenomenon. He’s a powerful man, playing with passion and confidence, making everyone around a better player when he’s on. No better evidence than how Gorgui played in the second half against Syracuse. Harrell is shooting free throws better at just the right time, too.

Luke Hancock provides much-needed court awareness, along with shooting skills and an ability to draw fouls and hit free throws. A confident Kevin Ware can be difficult to guard, those three-point hits always a nice surprise.

Tighten the seat belts. Here we go, shortcomings and all.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.