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Thursday Evening Cardinal News And Notes

Carolina Ruthann Williams doesn't like Duke. Can't stand 'em. Never has been able to.

I_medium Duke serves up some pregame notes in preparation for Saturday afternoon.

I_medium If you look at combined success in football and men's basketball over the course of the last 20 years, Louisville is one of the four best programs in the country.

I_medium The new mock draft has DeVante Parker going to the Vikings at pick 11, and Gerod Holliman going to the Steelers with pick 22.

I_medium Grantland's Mark Titus has a great analogy when talking about Louisville in his latest power rankings.

6. Louisville

Think of college basketball teams in January as meth recipes and coaches as meth cooks who are all trying to achieve Heisenberg levels of purity. And think of the NCAA tournament as the meeting with the head of the cartel, where the purity gets tested and all who fall short are shot in the face. Throughout the season, teams will have ugly wins, good losses, injuries, slumps, no-shows, hot streaks, transfers, suspensions, and everything in between, and coaches will toy with their recipes based on these events. All they have to do is weather this storm well enough for the cartel to believe the coaches can still deliver on time; in other words, all they have to do is be good enough to make the NCAA tournament. From there, if the product is pure, coaches stand to gain a ton of money and power. And if it's not, well, they get shot in the face.

That's how I think of basketball. It's my drug and I'm on an endless search for the purest, most potent stuff I can find. Winning and losing matters, but at this point in the season the purity of the product is most important. Take Gonzaga's offense, mix it with the kind of defense Kentucky was playing a month ago, put it in the freezer overnight, and you'll have dope that makes Walter White's Blue Sky feel like Advil. That's the ultimate goal. If you can get Tuco Salamanca to snort your level of play and say "tight" more than three times, you're on the right track.

I say all of that to say this: Rick Pitino is really close to figuring out the perfect recipe for this Louisville team, so Louisville's loss at North Carolina doesn't really bother me. In fact, the Cards played their best basketball of the season against Carolina. Of course, Louisville has some things to work on. The Tar Heels obliterated them on the boards. Terry Rozier took several questionable shots. Wayne Blackshear doesn't make his presence felt enough. It often seems like Harrell recharges his battery by dunking, and if he's not throwing it down regularly, he's not affecting the game. But Harrell is still a top-five player in college basketball, Rozier can be unstoppable at times, and Chris Jones seems to have finally figured it out. Best of all, Chinanu Onuaku played really well against the Tar Heels and Mangok Mathiang played well Tuesday against Virginia Tech, giving hope that maybe Louisville will eventually find a reliable center. If the Cards can get everyone on the same page - and they're getting closer and closer to that goal - their meth will blow my socks off.

I_medium This weekend figures to be one of the biggest recruiting weekends of the entire offseason for Cardinal football.

I_medium Regardless of what happens to Louisville basketball in the future, rest easy knowing that our student section will never be as awkward as Northwestern's.

I_medium My childhood made its way onto Facebook earlier this week.

I_medium Cardinals Zack Burdi and Corey Ray both make Perfect Game USA's list of the 100 best sophomores in the country.

I_medium A 19-year-old guy from Kentucky is on the run from police with his 13-year-old girlfriend, and he's apparently keeping a low profile by ... wearing UK gear everywhere.

I_medium Pervis Ellison's son is pretty good at basketball (video).

I_medium If you don't have anything going on Sunday, why not pick up a new shirt?

I_medium U of L has extended a scholarship offer to Lafayette High School sophomore quarterback Walker Wood.

I_medium ESPN's ACC blog is already starting its 2015 preview stuff by evaluating each team's non-conference schedule. It also lists Louisville as a "darkhorse playoff contender.

I_medium As part of its "Not the Knicks" series, the New York Times has a great profile of Bellarmine basketball, which details how Scotty Davenport got the Knights to become one of the best-shooting teams in the country.

Bellarmine, which is ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in the two major Division II polls, had a 12-1 record and was shooting 51.1 percent ahead of its game Thursday against No. 3 Indianapolis. The Knights have ranked among the top 10 in field goal percentage in each of the past seven seasons.

Last season, Bellarmine led Division II by shooting 52.9 percent - better than the Miami Heat, who topped the N.B.A. at 50.1 percent. And after shooting 73.9 percent last season to lead all Division II players, the senior forward Jake Thelen again ranks among the top five at 68.3 percent.

"Whenever we shoot," Thelen said, "we all feel like it's going down."

Yet the secret to the Knights' torrid shooting might come as a surprise: their willingness to pass.

"The mentality of everyone on the floor is, I may have a good shot, but there's always a chance to get a better one for someone else," the junior forward George Suggs said.

Bellarmine shoots well because the players take high-percentage shots. Thelen, who was averaging a team-leading 17.8 points through Wednesday, relies on a diet of crafty layups. The Knights are allergic to contested jumpers. During games, members of Davenport's staff track inside-out passes and ball reversals.

"Every player thinks they're passing," Davenport said, "but it helps to show them what's really happening."

I_medium The Sporting News has Kentucky as the top state in the country when it comes to college basketbal.

I_medium U of L tennis is home to the No. 1 player in the country, who is profiled in this week's edition of The Louisville Cardinal.

I_medium Photo-shoot season turnaround, y'all.

I_medium Two Georgia Bulldogs, including Nick Chubb, make Sports Illustrated's All-Bowl team. Not surprisingly, zero Cards made the cut.

I_medium Jamon Brown and John Miller are continuing to turn heads at Shrine Game practice.

I_medium And finally, the Cards are a 3 seed in the most recent ESPN Bracketology.