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Friday Afternoon Cardinal News And Notes

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Ken Moser is ready for Dec. 30.

I_medium We're now less than a week away from Christmas, which means you have less than a week to organize a holiday lunch special at Rivue. The restaurant will be offering special deals for corporate holiday lunches between now and the 23rd.

I_medium Your game notes for tomorrow's tilt from the folks at WKU.

I_medium Louisville's game against Western Kentucky tomorrow marks the third in the second four-year series deal between the two. While the brass at WKU is hopeful they'll be able to ink another contract with U of L in the next year, Rick Pitino says he isn't certain about the future of the in-state series.

"I'm not sure yet, but the reason we play is the amount of respect we have for their tradition and their basketball abilities," the Louisville coach said Thursday on his weekly radio show. "Why start a series with Memphis or Cincinnati or someone when you've got a great school right down the road in the state with unbelievable tradition? That's the way I've always believed in it.

"I think Western Kentucky is one of the great traditions in college basketball."

...

Beyond that, Pitino said he isn't sure if the Hilltoppers will be on the schedule with the Cardinals now in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"We'd probably do the same thing - if we continue," he said of the current four-year setup. "I don't know if it's going to continue or not. I haven't really thought about it too much, but the ACC brings about a very tough schedule, and we'll see what happens down the road."

WKU athletic director Todd Stewart told the Daily News that the school has a "great relationship" with Louisville, and he'd like to see the series continue.

"You measure yourself by playing against the very best, and we know every year Louisville will have a tremendous team," Stewart said. "I think this series has also been great for fans of both programs and basketball fans throughout the state and region. Playing in Louisville, Nashville and Bowling Green has made it uniquely special."

I_medium The Daily Press takes a look at which of the ACC's three unbeaten teams will remain unblemished the longest, and predicts that although Louisville will upset Kentucky on Dec. 27 and also beat Duke at home a few weeks later, it still won't be the Cards.

I_medium Mark Titus has Louisville at No. 5 in his latest power rankings for Grantland.

5. Louisville

Indiana played balls to the wall, drained 3s all night, and actually got steady production from Hanner Mosquera-Perea against the Cardinals on December 9. If IU had valued possession more and slowed the game down, if it had missed four or five of those 3s, and if Mosquera-Perea had played like the Mosquera-Perea who makes Hoosiers fans want to throw things, I probably wouldn't have ended up writing what you're about to read. But none of those things happened, so here we are: Louisville's half-court defense needs to get better.

This is far from a unique problem for Louisville teams. In fact, it seems like I make a version of this point around the same time every year - Louisville has one of the best defenses in America because its press causes so many headaches, but when the press doesn't force turnovers, it's much easier to score against the Cards than it should be. This, of course, leads to Louisville fans explaining that this is how Louisville wants to play, and that the Cards don't mind occasionally giving up easy points because over the course of a game, their press will create more easy baskets for Louisville than for their opponents.

I get it. And I get that Indiana hitting so many early 3s forced Louisville's defense to extend farther on the floor than Rick Pitino probably would've liked, which in turn led to more easy buckets for the Hoosiers. It's just that Louisville botched so many simple actions against Indiana that I refuse to let the Cardinals solely blame their defensive lapses on stylistic preference. There's a difference between giving up transition layups when the press gets broken and getting set defensively, facing screens a couple of times, and giving up a wide-open layup. Louisville's players often seem more interested in making flashy defensive plays - blocks off the glass, open-court steals, intercepted passes that lead to runouts - than they are in playing fundamental defense. The Cardinals' communication is bad, their understanding of defensive concepts isn't much better, and their half-court effort is worst of all. It's really just a slap in the face to their phenomenal press.

Louisville is a legitimate national title contender. The Cardinals should be ranked in the top 10 all season. Their offense is tough to stop, especially when Terry Rozier, Chris Jones, and Wayne Blackshear are hitting 3s and Montrezl Harrell gets nasty on the offensive glass. And it should be noted that my critique of Louisville's defense applies only when the press doesn't work, which rarely happens. But just imagine if Louisville had Kentucky or Virginia's half-court defense along with Pitino's press. Imagine how dominant the Cardinals defense would be at its full potential. Serious question: Would you rather face a defense like that for 40 minutes or watch Harrell shoot free throws while explaining all the hairstyles he turned down before settling on his "Cheetos held in place by a cut-off T-shirt sleeve" look?

I_medium Louisville is No. 4 in the freshly updated Basketball Power Index from ESPN.

I_medium There should be a 2-for-1 deal with these and the "Louisville Carolina" shirts.

I_medium Gerod Holliman can add AFCA All-American to his list of accomplishments.

I_medium Jeff Walz and the U of L women improved to 10-1 by taking care of Grand Canyon on Thursday night.

I_medium I can only imagine that these birds sing DMX's version of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

I_medium According to a study done by Business Insider, Louisville basketball players are worth approximately $1.5 million each. That means each bundle of Trez's hair is worth like 5K at least.

I_medium Vote Gorgs. Why?

As if you needed a reason.

I_medium And so begins the "Georgia tries to avoid letdown" storyline.

Going into the final week of the regular season, the Georgia Bulldogs had hopes of playing for a Southeastern Conference title, maybe even claiming a spot in the four-team national playoff.

Instead, they'll close the year in a bowl sponsored by a department store.

Talk about a letdown.

No. 13 Georgia (9-3) returned to practice Wednesday to begin preparations for the Dec. 30 Belk Bowl against No. 20 Louisville (9-3).

It's an intriguing matchup, pitting the high-scoring Bulldogs against their former defensive coordinator (Todd Grantham) in one of just four bowls outside the majors to feature a pair of teams ranked in The Associated Press Top 25.

That said, Georgia was hoping for so much more heading into its last game against Georgia Tech.

"We made our bed," cornerback Damian Swann said. "Now we've got to lay in it."

K.

I_medium In news that should surprise absolutely no one, Tim Miles and Nebraska are interested in becoming the landing spot for Akoy Agau.

I_medium I would eat this.

I_medium Providence freshman Tim Borden Jr. has committed to play baseball at Louisville.

I_medium Jared Lorenzen: still not a very likable dude.

I_medium Belk Bowl fundraiser update at the 3 day mark: $12,175.

I_medium Not only is Georgia "trying to avoid a letdown," the Bulldogs are also "looking for motivation."

"I was so excited." Blazevich said of finding out the team was headed to his hometown. "I think my mom called the ticket office and is trying to get the a section together."

The rest of the Bulldogs have to try and find a reason to get up for the game.

The goal for Georgia every season is to make it to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. The hope from there is to win the SEC and then potentially play for in a marquee bowl game.

Due to losses to South Carolina, Florida and Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs find themselves headed to Charlotte instead of New Orleans or Miami.

"We didn't get the job done," Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason said. "It doesn't feel good to know that you didn't get the job. You don't really dwell on it, you just have to move on."

K.

I've never really understood why Georgia carries itself like it's Alabama, and these quotes and stories are only reinforcing that wonder.

I_medium This old Reggie Bonnafon letter to his father is awesome.

I_medium Fox gives an early breakdown of the Belk Bowl.

I_medium The paper of note in Greensboro has Louisville at No. 2 in its latest ACC power poll.

I_medium And finally, beat WKU.