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Wednesday Morning Cardinal News And Notes

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Jolene Ludwig wasn't even alive to watch him play in person, but she's already got the Luke Hancock "3 to the dome" thing down pat.

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I_medium Spread Check: Louisville by 12.5.

I_medium All six of Cardiac Hill's writers like the Cards this evening.

I_medium Jeff Greer's story on Marques Maybin is very worth your time.

I_medium Pittsburgh will be focused on keeping Louisville from getting easy shots early on in tonight's game, something they didn't do a good job of in the first meeting last month.

"We can't let their guys get going early on some drives to the basket," he said. "We have always been a big believer, a couple of open looks early, some layups, makes guys a whole lot better shooters as the game goes on. So we have to defend early. We have to make them take tough shots."

Louisville (19-4, 7-3 ACC) was in a shooting slump coming into the first meeting, so coach Rick Pitino decided to change gears with his offense and employed a more attacking style.

"We made a lot changes, subtle changes in our offensive schemes," he said after the game. "We ran some different offensive sets which helped us a lot. We did a lot of good things by getting to the paint with drives. ... I felt if we could do that, we could shoot a high percentage, and we did."

Guard James Robinson said the last game got out of control because the Panthers (16-8, 5-5) allowed Rozier and Jones to get hot early.

"From the beginning of the game, we need to make sure we lock down on defense," Robinson said. "We can't let them get anything early. They got early layups in the last game, some uncontested jump shots. So we need to limit those and make them take contested shots."

Jamel Artis, the ACC player of the week, said stopping Rozier and Jones from driving is going to be the key concern for the Panthers.

"We have to play defense," Artis said. "We didn't play any defense against the two guards and it showed. We lost."

I_medium Matt Colburn has landed at Wake Forest, which means there is no chance of us not hearing about that storyline every fall for the next four (or five) years. Still, glad to see the young man wind up on a power 5 conference roster.

I_medium We all know that DeVante Parker is worthy of a top 15 pick in the NFL Draft, now a growing contingent of media analysts are joining the fray.

"He's worthy of a top-15 pick," NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Tuesday on "NFL AM".

Parker, who was listed at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds by Louisville, had 43 receptions for 855 yards (19.8 yards per catch) during the 2014 season despite missing the first six games with a foot injury. Parker had 55 receptions and 12 TD catches in 2013, when he was Minnesota Vikings 2014 first-round pickTeddy Bridgewater's go-to guy.

Parker has a huge catch radius because of an 80-inch wingspan, and Jeremiah says Parker's speed is underrated.

"When you watch him, he's kind of a long-strider, so you don't necessarily think he's that fast," Jeremiah said. "But I've been told he's going to run in the high 4.3s/low 4.4s (in the 40-yard dash at the NFLScouting Combine)".

Jeremiah has Parker as the draft's No. 9 overall prospect, and teams that could be interested in a wide receiver in the first round and in a position to grab Parker include the Cleveland BrownsHouston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs.

I_medium Our old rival Marc Summers revealed yesterday that he is cancer-free after battling Leukemia for the last five years. Very awesome to hear.

I_medium Louisville checks in at No. 51 when it comes to "out-recruiting your conference."

I_medium So this is our NC State game tailgate on the front page of this morning's Courier-Journal:

My first thought was pride that the story is on the legality of drinking at tailgates and there are no fewer than two strollers visible in this picture. My second thought was the more obvious one: drinking at tailgates all these years has been illegal?

Cue the "I think I see a lot of lawbreakers" McCoughnahey video .... because I couldn't find it to post in this spot. It would've been funny though. Would've been SO funny.

I_medium Tow of the four high-profile transfers who could make a big impact in the ACC next season are headed to Louisville.

Devonte Fields, DE, Louisville. The Cardinals needed to bolster their defensive front with a quality rush end, and they did that with the addition of Fields, a former Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. But Fields was dismissed from TCU before the 2014 season after he allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend. He ended up at Trinity Valley Community College, where he had 6.5 sacks this past season. He is set to enroll in the summer with two years of eligibility remaining. 

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino defended the decision to sign Fields, telling reporters on signing day, "I believe in second chances and sometimes third chances. Every one of them is on an individual basis -- guys on our own team, guys we go out and recruit. You do your research, and you try to make sure that if you have an opportunity to give a young man a second chance, I believe that you should do it."

...

Jamari Staples, WR, Louisville. Staples played at UAB last season, catching nine passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. He enrolled at Louisville in January after UAB shut down its football program. He also has ties to the Cardinals' program, having played for Louisville offensive coordinator Garrick McGee at UAB. Staples has good size and raw talent, and he fills a major position of need for the Cards. Leading receiver Devante Parker is gone, and so are Eli RogersKai De La Cruz and Michaelee Harris. Those four combined for 55 percent of the team's receiving yards last season. If you count tight end Gerald Christian, Louisville is losing five of its top six leaders in receiving yards from 2014. The opportunity is there for Staples to contribute right away in 2015.

I_medium The U of L softball team is off to a 2-3 start after beating UC Davis and CSU Bakersfield but falling to UNLV, Minnesota, and Washington in a tournament in Las Vegas over the weekend. The Cards will play five games in an Orlando tournament this weekend.

I_medium Solid execution.

I_medium One of the best CCBM pics of all-time is on this list of best photobombs ever.

I_medium Grantand's Zach Lowe writes about the new era of the NBA big man, which features "old school bulk and new era skill." One of the centers he talks about is The Gorgster.

It's easy to suggest that Dieng revert to being a pick-and-roll diver with a bit of range now that Rubio is back, but if Dieng is a reserve again, the two won't overlap as much. Dieng's NBA upbringing has been so chaotic, the Wolves don't really know what he is yet - what position he plays, whether he should start, and whether Dieng and Pekovic can play together. Dieng is already 25, older than most second-year guys, so it's unclear how much better he is going to get.

For now Dieng is good at lots of stuff, but great at nothing. He has a chance to be the sort of malleable big who can blend into any lineup, but he has to extend his range beyond 15 feet - a top priority this summer, Saunders says. Dieng has worked with Holger Geschwindner, Dirk Nowitzki's longtime shooting guru, and Saunders says that partnership should continue.

Dieng needs more range to play alongside the other Minnesota starters, but he has the passing chops to make it work. He hits open cutters on time, and he's smart at reading the defense to anticipate which teammate will come open next. He could be a great entry passer for all of Minny's post-up weapons.

Dieng does everything with vigor. That's an underrated NBA skill. He cuts hard, screens hard, and gets off the floor at turbo speed. That helps him grab offensive rebounds and challenge shots at the basket even when he's a tad late rotating from the weak side. Dieng's rim-protection numbers are ugly, but he's an eager defender, and he has played this season amid a poisonous defensive environment. A man can plug only so many leaks.

Post brutes can shove Dieng under the rim, and he'll take the occasional lazy angle containing a dribble-drive - banking on his length to bail him out. "You can do that against average players," Saunders says, "but not good ones."

Dieng's a good player, but it's unclear whether he should be a starter or a killer third big on a playoff team. The Wolves don't have to know the answer quite yet.

I_medium Louisville's Ben Williams has been named the ACC Men's Track and Field Performer of the Week.

I_medium Your early Kentucky Derby 141 odds for approximately 3,000 horses.

I_medium I watched Red v Blue for the first time on KET Monday night (it's also going to be on ESPN Classic Friday night at 9 and 10:45), and there's a part in the film where they show a couple of Kentucky folks talking about how race hasn't played any part in the rivalry in 40 years or so, and then they show a couple of people like me who disagree.

We disagree because we're shown stuff like this on pretty much a weekly basis now.

This isn't me "painting the entire UK fanbase with the same brush," it's just me saying that if you don't think race is still at least something of a factor when it comes to the rivalry, you haven't spent any time on the Internet ... or inside some of the UK frat houses.

I_medium Former Cardinal futboller Andrew Farrell is slated for big things in 2015.

I_medium In his continuing blog for USA Today, top recruit Dennis Smith Jr. says things have "definitely picked up" with Louisville and coach Pitino in his recruitment.

I_medium No bigz.

I_medium The Sporting News has DeVante Parker ranked as the third best wide receiver in the 2015 draft class.

I_medium D1baseball.com previews the ACC and predicts that Louisville will win the Atlantic Division.

I_medium Pitt is riding a three-game winning streak into the Yum Center tonight, and a big part of the reason why is the improved play of rising star Jamel Artis.

The fact that Artis is averaging over 20 points per game over his past seven contests is great, but what jumps out is how efficiently he has gone about his business. His shooting percentage has not been below 50 percent for a game in a month. He is routinely torturing opponents with a mix of 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers and the occasional tough basket inside.

The best part of the equation, however, is that Artis is looking for his shot at all times, and doing so at Jamie Dixon's behest. It's great to see the typically veteran-favoring Dixon trusting Artis -- a sophomore -- with that much responsibility, and running his offense through him whenever possible. Pitt isn't looking to pass and pass until the shot clock is winding down; they're getting Artis the ball in rhythm and making the opponent stop him.

Whenever other teams do collapse, Artis is finding open teammates and they are making shots. Pitt appears to be playing loose on offense, and players that previously passed up open looks aren't doing so. The sudden bout of selfishness has been good for the Panthers. While Dixon's teams have been rightly praised for their willingness to make the extra pass through the years, at times the current incarnation has overdone it and gotten stuck in the mud as a result.

This new mentality all starts with Artis. Instead of looking at his status as a player in between the small and power forward positions as a handicap, he has used it to torture slower players, or bully smaller ones. He looks much slimmer than he did last season, and his defensive effort and performance has improved significantly. He could not have foreseen that Johnson was going to get suspended, but he has stepped into the void and given Pitt a feature scorer to rely on. His teammates are following suit when they get the chance.

I_medium Notre Dame escaped with a win over Clemson last night, and the rest of your ACC roundup.

I_medium I will always remember 2014 as the year I got married on the same day as Earl Clark. These are the photos from one of those two weddings (they're Earl's).

I_medium And finally, beat Pitt.