- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Louisville sophomore forward Myisha Hines-Allen remembered the message from senior Shawnta’ Dyer after last season.

“Next year is your year,” Hines-Allen recalled Dyer telling her. “You have to lead this team. They need a leader.”

There are no seniors and Hines-Allen is among nine freshmen and sophomores on the No. 8 Cardinals’ roster.

Despite losing five seniors from the Sweet 16 squad that lost to Dayton, Louisville returns a solid duo to build around in sophomore forward Mariya Moore (13.4 points per game) and Hines-Allen (11.8).

Sophomore guard Arica Carter and redshirt junior Cortnee Walton, the final link to Louisville’s 2013 national runner-up team, are the other returning veterans. But the Cardinals will still be green, and that’s where Hines-Allen took Dyer’s urging to be more vocal to heart.

“When she told me that you have everything to become a leader and a great ballplayer, I just changed my mindset,” Hines-Allen said.

Offsetting the Cardinals’ inexperience is a talented incoming freshman class. A school-record three high school All-Americans give coach Jeff Walz his best group of newcomers in nine years.

Leading the group is guard Asia Durr, Parade magazine’s high school player of the year and a two-time Georgia Miss Basketball. Joining her in the backcourt is Taja Cole, while 6-foot-2 forward Sam Fuehring, who Walz calls a versatile “inside-out presence.”

Brianna Jones and 6-4 center Erin DeGrate will also play early, and Walz is heartened by the group’s promise despite their lack of seasoning.

“I could have five seniors and if they’re five bad seniors we’re still going to be bad,” Walz said. “Our young kids are good. It’s not like we’re sitting here going, ‘In two years, I think they could be ready to play.’ We’re fortunate to have recruited some kids that I truly believe are going to be an impact from Day One.”

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Some other things to know about Louisville this season:

DURR RECOVERING: Durr is the biggest recruit in school history with Walz calling her one of the strongest ball handlers he’s had in 19 years of coaching. But she had surgery on both groin muscles after tearing one six months ago and is about 70 percent healthy.

SUMMER ABROAD: Moore and Hines-Allen got national-team experience last summer that both players said strengthened their play and leadership abilities. Moore and Walz spent their second consecutive year with USA Basketball and earned another gold medal with the Under-19 squad. Hines-Allen tried out for the Pan-American Games and World University Games teams, and Walz believes she benefited as one of the few freshmen invited.

IMPACT TRANSFER: Guard Briahanna Jackson arrives from Central Florida after averaging 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds last season. The 5-6 redshirt junior was Conference USA’s Freshman of the Year in 2012-13. “She’s going to be able to bring a different dimension to our team that we haven’t had in the past year or two,” Walz said.

EARLY OBSTACLES: Besides opening at home Nov. 15 against 2013 Final Four opponent California, Louisville visits No. 24 Michigan State and No. 18 Kentucky in the first four weeks. The Cardinals also will play three games in as many days at the Gulf Coast Showcase with potential matchups against 2015 NCAA teams LSU, Stanford and Dayton.

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