Apologies for the lack of activity around these parts over the mini-break. I was off on a magical Christmas adventure. I really don't want to get into it.
Anyway, here's a recap of the biggest stories from the past few days:
1. Basketball team continues to roll
The Cards started the holiday week by taking care of business against Louisiana-Lafayette and then ended it by blasting a Radford team that will probably win the Big South. Samardo Samuels played with more passion than he has at any other point in his Cardinal career, and completely got the better of the highly-touted Highlander center Art Parakhouski.
Things take just a slight step up in intensity this week as Louisville opens conference play on Wednesday against a 10-2 South Florida squad, and then on Saturday they play an in-state opponent.
2. Charlie Strong rules
A year ago we were battling mid-level MAC schools for junior college transfers and now we have a four-star recruit who has offers from just about every major program in the country saying he will de-commit from Georgia and sign with Louisville if Charlie Strong offers him a scholarship.
"I'm still committed to Georgia, but I'm going up to Louisville for a visit on January 8th," Butler said. "I really want to play for Coach Strong, so I'm thinking about going to Louisville."
Strong, of course, was recruiting Butler fairly hard while with UF, but that did not appeal to Butler and he committed to Georgia early last spring, April 18.
"Coach Strong, he's just a real person," Butler said. "He's a good coach, a good friend. He'll teach you right from wrong and get you right."
...And when asked if he would decommit as soon as Louisville offered, Butler said, matter-of-factly, "Yes sir."
So we've got that goin' for us, which is nice.
Strong also added depth to the defensive line by adding a pair of transfers in Tyler Harrell (Iowa) and Randy Salmon (Hutchinson CC).
3. Wayne Blackshear commits
The most positive off-the-court piece of news for the Louisville basketball program in quite some time came on Christmas night when Morgan Park (Chicago) stud Wayne Blackshear committed to the Cards.
Pitino has recently stressed the importance of landing a versatile wing player for the future and now he has one in Blackshear, a 6-6, 210-pound scoring machine who's rated in the top 20 for his class by just about every recruiting service out there.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound swingman is the fourth junior to commit to the Cardinals, giving them, perhaps, the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for 2011. Blackshear, who already has a 42-point game, has paced youthful Morgan Park (Chicago) to a surprising 10-1 record this year.
Blackshear also had scholarship offers from powers such as North Carolina, Kentucky and Michigan State.
Former Chicago Sun-Times prep editor Taylor Bell says, "The most impressive thing about him is that he never takes a play off. He plays hard all the time. He’s the real deal. He’s right there with Jereme Richmond (the state’s No. 1 senior, from Waukegan) for Player of the Year."Rick Bolus, director of High Potential Basketball Recruiting in Shepherdsville, Ky., calls Blackshear "big-time. He’s an athletic player who can literally do it all. He’s a coast-to-coast player."
The commitment would also seem to bolster Louisville's shot at landing Blackshear's good friend, Mike Shaw. Both told the Courier-Journal this summer that they would definitely be attending the same school, but when asked if that were still the case following Blackshear's commitment, Shaw, the 40th best player in the class of 2011 according to Scout.com, had this to say:
"I don't know. Right now I am just taking my time. Louisville is a good fit for Wayne, and he made a good decision."
Shaw might be waiting around to see what top-five recruit Marquis Teague, another friend of Blackshear's, ends up doing. Teague is the top target in the class for both Louisville and Kentucky.
4. Urban Meyer announcement makes everyone nervous
It's cool now, but admit it, you peed a little bit. If it would have happened I think we all would have known who to blame: Ron Cooper. See you thought I was going Kragthorpe, but then I reached deeper. Stay on your toes, people.
5. Brian Brohm starts at quarterback for the Bills
He did show some improved arm strength and made some decent throws, but his numbers - 17-of-29 for 146 yards with two picks - and the final score - Atlanta 31, Buffalo 3 - aren't going to have any Bills fans calling him the next Jim Kelly. T.O. apologized to him for not going after a deep ball, though. That was cool.
6. Hunter Cantwell activated by Carolina
I still think the man can hang around the league for several years.
Rookie quarterback Hunter Cantwell was elevated from the Carolina Panthers' practice squad to the active roster Thursday after Jake Delhomme was placed on injured reserve with a broken knuckle.
"He's a guy who has shown promise and (is) somebody worth developing," said coach John Fox. "I'm not sure we anticipated doing it at this point in the season, but that's kind of where we are."
Cantwell, who played in college at Louisville, is expected to be the No. 3 (emergency) quarterback in the final two games against the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints.
7. I didn't get a Preston Knowles jersey for Christmas
I love no one.