Friday Afternoon Cardinal News And Notes

Longtime Cardinal fan Hugh Pritchett Sr. decided Thursday that he'd prefer to move onto the next life while Louisville is still the reigning king of college basketball. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Some scheduling notes: Today's open U of L football practice will begin at 3:40 p.m., and tomorrow's practice is slated to get started at 10 a.m.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium U of L signee Shaqquan Aaron saw his high school career end on Thursday when his previously undefeated Rainier Beach squad lost to Findlay Prep of Nevada 67-59 in the quarterfinals of the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament in New York. Aaron scored 12 points, but was just 5-of-19 from the field.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium ESPN's Andrea Adelson spent the last two days attending U of L's football practice, and writes that while Will Gardner has a ways to go, he's looking like a good fit for Bobby Petrino's offense.

"That's every quarterback's dream, to have a coach like Coach Petrino, who's had successful offenses," Gardner said. 

Gardner has now taken a lead in the race to replace Bridgewater, and is poised to start when the season opens Sept. 1 against Miami. Coaches have been impressed not only with his size (6-5, 230 pounds) but also his athleticism. He seems to be a perfect fit for the high-tempo offense Petrino likes to run. 

"Really good fit," Petrino said. "He has presence in the pocket, good size and a quick release and he's still a great athlete. That's the one thing I didn't realize when I first got here is how athletic he is. He had a great week of (strength and conditioning) testing, showed his competitive spirit and leadership with the other players. That's when you started to see we might have something special here before it's all over with."

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Some Kentucky fans are now petitioning the mayor for a "Blue Day" in Louisville, which has led to a pair of district reps making it happen. Of course this is something that should never occur in the city of Louisville, but I'm pretty sure it also isn't going to affect anyone in the city's wardrobe plans. Whatever.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium A major congrats to Richard Pitino and Minnesota, which knocked off SMU Thursday night inside Madison Square Garden to claim the NIT title. The majority of the Pitino family was in attendance behind the Gopher bench, including Rick, who couldn't help but do a little coaching from the stands in the game's final minute.

With the bulk of the Gopher squad returning next season, there's a very real chance that November's Pitino vs. Pitino showdown in Puerto Rico could be a battle between ranked squads.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Final Four picks from the SI college hoops staff.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Calvin Pryor is still a bad, bad man.

Here's the start to the "Weaknesses" section in the CBS Sports draft evaluation of Pryor:

"Almost too physical in an era in which heavy hitters often draw penalty flags. Drops his shoulder into defenders but some of his hits could be interpreted as leading with the crown of his helmet."

The worst thing they can say about Calvin Pryor is that he hits too hard.

It's a legitimate concern these days. Pryor might as well get Roger Goodell's Chase QuickPay info now. He's going to need it.

But it's not because he's dirty. Most of the ridiculous hits in that clip are perfectly legal. The problem is just how violent they are, and with Pryor, I kind of love it. The goal for a lot of teams is going to be finding the next Earl Thomas, but when I watch Pryor, I can't help but think about the hit Kam Chancellor put on Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl. As the league has rightly cracked down on helmet-to-helmet hits, finding a tone-setting enforcer for the middle of the field who can dole out his punishment while playing by the rules has become a major factor.

That video inspired about five different audible reactions from me. These guys - Brian Dawkins, Steve Atwater, the guys looking to turn people into smudge marks on the face of the earth - are always fun. I get the appeal of great cover safeties these days, but I also know any receiver playing against Pryor is going to be thinking about it all week. One way to keep someone from catching the ball is to make him not want it at all.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium I'm always amazed by the number of people who immediately respond to a link on Facebook or Twitter by asking a question or stating a fact that is either answered or presented in the opening paragraph of the link they're refusing to click. It's a phenomenon that NPR exploited with fairly hilarious results earlier this week.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium I mean, I guess this possible, but I just don't believe it.

At least one mock draft agrees.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium The past 11 national champions have all had at least one McDonald's All-American. Wisconsin has zero.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Three observations from Louisville's Thursday football practice.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium A brilliant idea from @skennyg on Twitter, who says that instead of hanging Russ' jersey in the rafters of the Yum Center, we should honor him by adding a life-size version of the Russ on the Shelf to the Louisville skyline on top of the scoreboard.

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Yes. 

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium It's been a rough week for former Cardinals, as Zach Price found himself suspended by Frank Haith on Thursday after being arrested twice in the span of 12 hours. Price, who has been outspoken about his disdain for his former program, wasn't particularly upset about Louisville's loss to Kentucky last Friday.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium U of L signee Quentin Snider will be competing in the 3-Point Competition today at the American Family Insurance Slam Dunk and 3-point Championships at Duncanville (Texas) High School. The event will be televised on CBS at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Current Cardinal Anton Gill competed in the Slam Dunk portion of the event a year ago.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium A nice shot of the Hancocks and the Hendersons before going to watch their guys play their final game as Cardinals.

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I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium A quick reminder that Luke, Tim and SVT will be signing autographs at the mall in Elizabethtown from 6-8 tonight.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Rick Bozich was the only one of the 65 AP voters to tab Russ Smith, and not Doug McDermott, as the national Player of the Year. He defends his decision here.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium An online auction featuring signed basketballs by Denny Crum and Rick Pitino is underway and raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium I can't believe this is the first time we've seen a CCBM picture like this.

Fantastic.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium I've decided to cope with tomorrow night by hosting a "Pilgrims and Indians" party. People aren't going to dress up in costumes or anything, there's just going to be no electricity and everyone is going to drink grain alcohol. There will also probably be some deaths.

Everyone is invited.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Junior defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins is one of the players who has really stepped his game up this spring.

I_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium And finally, if you haven't yet read this detailed look at the Petrino offense, you should change that.

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