A transfer from George Mason, junior Luke Hancock was named a team captain at Louisville before he ever stepped foot on the court in a real game. Less than a year later, Hancock's threes helped Louisville cut down the nets as NCAA champion.
Hancock, who came off the bench in the national title game, went 5-for-5 from beyond the arc and scored 22 points.
"We just wait and Luke makes the big plays," Russ Smith said. "When something's not going down, I know one of us is willing to take that big shot and just take the knockout shot."
Smith said Hancock's courageous attitude has influenced the rest of the team.
Smith explained, "Everyone on this team is willing to take that shot and I think that's what really makes this a good team. We're not scared of anything."
Nearly all the Cardinals hit a big shot against Michigan Monday night, but it was Hancock who got the Cardinals back into the game after they trailed by 12 points in the first half.
Hancock hit threes on three straight Louisville possessions to spark Louisville's run.
"I just thought we needed something," Hancock said. "I tried to do whatever I could to help the team. I usually take a back seat to Russ (Smith) and Peyton (Siva), which I'm fine with since they are such great players. I just hit a few shots."
"I bet this is the best day of his life," teammate Stephan Van Treese said. "I'm so happy, so proud of him. He put in so much work and for everything he's done. He definitely talks the talk and walks the walk."
Hancock was also key in getting Michigan's stars into foul trouble. Trey Burke's second foul in the first half was on a shot fake and three point attempt by Hancock. He used the same move to get a fourth foul on Mitch McGary in the second half.
"You don't practice leaning into somebody and trying to get a foul, but it ended up helping us out putting Try Burke on the bench," Hancock said. "But I don't know how much help it was because Spike (Albrecht) came in and killed us for a while.
"You don't work on jumping into Mitch McGary. He's huge. When he came at me, he just kind of hit me."
Hancock's performance was even more special considering his father, who is battling severe illness, was in attendance on the front row behind Louisville's bench.
"I'm so excited for this team to be in this situation," Hancock said. "It's been a long road. There's really no way to describe how I feel that my Dad was here. It's hard to put into words. I'm so excited that he was here, it just means a lot."