Friday Evening Cardinal News And Notes

The ATL road trip isn't a short one. Even the CCBM needs its rest at the end of it.

As you're reading this, I'm driving a car down to Atlanta so that I can watch our beloved Louisville Cardinals try to win the first national title of my (conscious) lifetime.

I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a Louisville fan can feel, a Louisville fan at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the Georgia border. I hope to see my friend Kevin, and shake his hand. I hope the Gorgui Dome is as red as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Spread check: Louisville by 10.5.

Little Russ Smith? Yeah, Little Russ Smith.


Check out the Fat Brain on Fat Wayne.

Blackshear received the award during the Men's Final Four Salute Presentation on Thursday evening.

The Elite 89 award, founded by the NCAA, honors the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's championships.

A communications major, Blackshear currently carries a 3.55 grade-point average. For the season, the Chicago native is averaging 7.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game and ranks third on the team with 43 3-pointers.

But seriously, that's awesome.

Peyton Siva deserves some congratulations of his own, as the senior co-captain has been named the winner of the 2013 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today the winner of the 2013 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award. This award is given annually to one senior, six-foot-and under, who thrived in the classroom and on the basketball court.

This year's winner is Peyton Siva from the University of Louisville. The senior point guard was named the 2013 Big East Tournament MVP, 2013 All Big East third team, 2013 Big East Academic All-American and 2013 Big East Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He holds the Big East tournament and school record for steals in a Big East tournament game with seven, which also made him Louisville's all-time career leader with 236 steals. Siva finished the 2013 regular season averaging 9.7 points, 5.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. As a junior, he finished fourth in the Big East in assists (5.6 per game), seventh in steals (1.7 per game), and 13th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.61).

"Peyton Sivia is one of the elite players in college basketball," said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. "He excelled not only on the court but also in the classroom and it is an honor to recognize Peyton for all of his outstanding efforts this year. He is very deserving of this prestigious award."

Regardless of what happens this weekend, man, what a special collection of guys.

Skip Bayless picked Wichita State to upset Louisville 68-65 on ESPN's "First Take" this morning. So I guess I should turn this car that I haven't started driving yet but am as you're reading this around.

For those who have asked, yes, Digger Phelps also picked Wichita earlier this week. Now turning the car I haven't started driving back around again.

The second we saw that picture after the Oregon game, we all knew something like this was coming.

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Terrence Williams talks about his life struggles and theimportance of his relationship with Coach Pitino

Rodney Purvis (remember him?) is transferring to UConn (remember them?).

In my dreams, Pitino is absolutely whoring out Jim Nantz here.

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When it comes to basketball, Louisville is even the best at being nerds.

Adam Winebrenner's 5-year-old daughter has the fan thing down.

My daughter has fallen in love with the CARDS run thus far. Below is a pic of her today signing Kevin's Get Well Card holding up a 5. She is 5 yrs. old and says, "he is 5 just like me."

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She has made (with help from her mother) U of L hair ribbons with of course, the #5 on them. All she has been asking the past few days is,"When does the game start"? Or, "I want to watch my CARDS". She has also become the leading cheerleader while watching the games spelling out and doing the CARDS chant.

Obviously this team is special, even to a 5 yr. old.

The Chik-fil-A in St. Matthews is giving free cookies to anyone "Wareing" red today.

Speaking of "Ware Red Day," here's the creator himself getting excited for this weekend's festivities.

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This was from earlier this week, so the blue shirt is forgiven.

Louisville's return to the Final Four makes it a rarity.

Butler had a core group in consecutive title-game appearances, but at the time the Bulldogs weren't in a power conference and had only one NBA-level player in both Final Fours in Shelvin Mack. And the Bulldogs didn't win either time.

Florida did this in 2006-07 with nearly identical teams -- winning both national championships -- and a roster full of NBA-caliber players.

That's not the case with Louisville. This team -- hardly full of NBA locks -- stayed together and returned to chase another Final Four and title.

Gorgui Dieng has become a much better offensive player.
If Louisville has a given for the NBA it is Gorgui Dieng, but only because he radically improved as an effective mid-range scorer. Russ Smith will be a pro, but it's unclear how successful he will be. Peyton Siva will have to earn his minutes as hard as he had to work to get to this point.

"[Louisville] tasted it last year,'' Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "They don't have that signature guy and no lottery pick guys. It's like Maryland.''

If there is a parallel to what Louisville is doing, it is Maryland from 2001-02. The Terps were in two Final Fours, reaching the national semifinal in one and then winning one year later. They returned nearly intact with perceived NBA lock Chris Wilcox and another who no one, not even then-coach Gary Williams, thought would be the most productive NBA player -- Steve Blake.

And finally, go Louisville, beat Wichita State.

See you folks in Atlanta.

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