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What to read in between water breaks

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It's too damn hot for a penguin to just be walkin' around. I gotta send you back to the South Pole.

Seriously though, I hit whiffle balls in my backyard for no more than half an hour yesterday morning and came inside looking like I'd just played 18 at Death Valley Country Club. I have no idea how human beings are wearing equipment and achieving anything remotely athletic in this heat.

The almost always readable Stewart Mandel performed a very interesting exercise on Wednesday as part of the latest installment in his Mailbag series. Mandel constructed a college football hierarchy for the 66 BCS programs that consisted of four tiers: Kings (Notre Dame, Ohio State, Alabama...), Barons (Auburn, Colorado, UCLA...), Knights (Purdue, West Virginia, Michigan State...) and Peasants (Kentucky, Baylor, Vanderbilt...).

But there was one program noticeably absent.

There is one school intentionally missing from the list, and that's because I have no idea where to put it: Louisville. History-wise, the Cardinals are peasants, but the program has completely reinvented itself over the past decade and now gets mentioned with the kings and barons. For now, we'll just say: TBD.

Coincidentally I performed the same exercise for SI two months ago, but my tiers of Juriches, Carmodys, Lohans and Cardosis were deemed unacceptable.

Based mostly on the merits of his performances as a freshman and sophomore, George Stripling has been named the best backup running back in the country by Rivals.com.

Even without Michael Bush, Louisville's backfield proved last year it is stocked with depth. Bulldozing sophomore Anthony Allen is expected to start for Louisville this year after running for 13 touchdowns as a true freshman. Stripling will join a host of backups, but he has the most game experience. Stripling was second on the team behind Kolby Smith with 429 yards rushing, but he's also a threat as a pass-catcher (252 receiving yards). Stripling was productive as Bush's backup in 2005. He gained 621 yards, scored seven touchdowns and averaged 7.9 yards per carry.

Now all George has to do is fight off five other guys for the title of best backup on his own team.

The occasionally Bipolar College Football News lists Louisville as the No. 1 offense in the country. Of course the same publication says that the Cards have the worst secondary in the Big East and that West Virginia is the 24th best team in the nation, so...

The U of L ticket office will be open and selling single-game tickets for the Murray State and Middle Tennessee State games from 6-8 p.m. tonight at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. In a completely unrelated note, the concessions stands will be open and beer will be served at tonight's scrimmage.

That's right Cardinal fans, this Sunday instead of waking up hung over next to that chick with all the tattoos who looked so cute in her Michael Bush jersey the night before, you'll be able to wake up hung-over next to a pile of 135 single-game Middle Tennessee State tickets...and they'll all be naked.

Terrence Williams spent this week serving as a camp counselor at the Adidas Nations Basketball Experience in New Orleans, and according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, T-Will may have done more to help his NBA Draft stock than anyone else in attendance.

The biggest story to emerge from the counselor games of the last two days was the play of Louisville swingman Terrence Williams, who is going into his junior season. Williams seems to have made some serious progress in his game over the past summer, and has surely convinced us that he's more than deserving of a spot in he first round of our 2008 mock draft.

He played aggressive, but under control basketball, making good decisions in transition and half-court sets and taking full advantage of any opportunity he had to show off his explosive athleticism. Williams is built like an NBA player and is beginning to show the all-around game of one too, creating his own shot consistently from the perimeter and mixing in a steady offering of pull-up jumpers with strong takes to the basket.

One of the criticisms we had of Williams in the past was his tendency to settle too often for contested 3-pointers rather than using his excellent physical tools to make things happen via his slashing game. He only shot 37% from the field last year and 26% from behind the arc. Although we shouldn't draw too many long term conclusions because of the nature of this setting, Williams seems to be making nice strides in this area. His handle looks better (although still improvable) and he's clearly more committed to getting inside the paint and finishing. The shots he did take from the perimeter were mostly of the under control catch and shoot variety from behind the arc (which he hit at a good rate), while his mid-range game looks quite a bit more polished than we remember it being last season. Playing the pick and roll, Williams punished the defense on a number of occasions with a smooth jumper when they dared cheat and go underneath the screen in order to try to contain his dribble.

Defensively, Williams used his strength and lateral quickness nicely, even coming up with a couple of excellent blocks either on his man or rotating over from the weakside. Sasha Kaun was the victim of one of these rotations, as he was rejected viciously by the soaring Williams right at the rim.

The NBA scouts we talked to were just as impressed with Terrence Williams for what he showed over the course of the adidas nations basketball experience here in New Orleans. He seems to have helped his draft stock quite a bit amongst those in attendance. The comparison to Tony Allen was brought up, although it was noted that Williams has much better size and is already ahead of him at the same stage in terms of his perimeter shooting. Williams has the chance to really soar up the draft boards if he has the type of season we think he can under the careful guidance of Rick Pitino.

Other notable attendees at the camp included UCLA point guard Darren Collison, Kansas guard Mario Chalmers, and incoming freshman superstars Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon.

If you've always dreamed of being served drinks by one of Louisville's all-time basketball greats, then your day has come my friend.

Lancaster Gordon will be bartending at Proof of Main Sunday, August 19 from 6 to 10 p.m. to help raise money for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Jefferson County. All of his tips and a portion of the bar proceeds will benefit the non-profit organization.

Big non-con scheduling news out of the Big East this week as Syracuse landed a home-and-home with USC, and Cincinnati did the same with Oklahoma. God, we have got to get Syracuse and Cincinnati to set us up with some of their dates' hot friends.

The Cincinnati Post's Josh Katzowitz is covering Bearcat camp where the quarterback battle between Dustin Grutza and Ben Mauk is officially underway. Like U of L, UC will hold a scrimmage today from 2:15-4:30 p.m.

I must admit that I'm a bit surprised (although I'm not complaining) that Brian Kelly is allowing so much access to his practices, especially after the whole no UC beat writers being sent to Media Day debacle. Apparently the modern age doesn't bother the progressively thinking Kelly, or maybe he just figures no one is paying attention.

Further North, The Star-Ledger's Tom Luicci is all over Rutgers camp where Greg Schiano is doing everything he can to make scrimmages as much like real games as possible.

The word out of New Jersey is that much maligned, but extremely talented QB Mike Teel has stepped up his game during the scrimmages. Luicci also adds that he believes Ray Rice has bulked up significantly.

**Ray Rice is huge. There is no question that Rice, in terms of his upper body, is much bigger and stronger than he was last year. Maybe 2,000 yards isn't so crazy.

Staying in New England, the QB battle between JuCo transfer Tyler Lorenzen (who will win) and sophomore Dennis Brown (who will lose) has kicked off in Storrs. Coach Randy Edsall has closed all practices up until today, and judging by his assessment of his squad's performance on Thursday, that's probably a good thing.

"I didn't think that today was a real good day overall," Edsall said. "We put a lot of new stuff in today but I didn't think it was as sharp and as crisp as we would have liked. We'll have to look at the film but overall, I was not pleased. This is the first time we've been outside at the height of the heat of the day and we've got to get used to it and keep working and getting used to that and fight through it."

Not a great first week for the Wannstache who saw his offensive line get dominated, highly touted freshman quarterback Pat Bostick leave the team (temporarily), and stud freshman running back LaSean McCoy go down with a twisted ankle.

And finally, down in Tampa Jim Leavitt saw two projected starters go down with ankle injuries on Thursday when linebacker Chris Robinson (CC's #23 defensive player in the BE) had to be carted off the field after guard Walter Walker had turned an ankle earlier in practice. Neither player practiced on Friday and Leavitt would not speculate on when either would return.