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Thursday Morning Cardinal News And Notes

The world lost a tremendous Cards fan when Mike Borders left this world last week, but he moved on with the knowledge that the last football game he attended was yet another win over Kentucky.

I_medium Today's picture of the day came from Kyle Borders, who said that his father Mike had previously expressed a desire to have his picture grace a news and notes post, but he didn't know how to submit a picture and Kyle never thought to do it for him. Mike fell ill out of nowhere, and wound up passing on last week after undergoing gall bladder surgery.

I'm going to share just a portion of Kyle's email because I think it's important.

I know you don't do this often but my dad and I love your website and the cards. Dad had once mentioned how he would love to be on the news and notes. I never thought to submit one and he wouldn't have the slightest clue how. When things like this happen I'm sure it's natural to have regrets and so few of them can be  controlled. I know it may not be possible but could you use the attached picture on a news and notes post? This was from the last football home game vs. UK (I know his L is backwards... He could never get that right). This was the last  football game we ever attended together. We've been going since 1998 and it's been such a big part of my life that I'm not sure I can ever let go.

I grew up in Georgetown in the late 90s so it was hard being a cards fan - the cats were dominant and the last few Denny years were tough. Among all of the memories we've had together, u of l basketball and football may have been the most special. In 2013 when we won the national championship I remember dad  telling me to remember the moment and the feeling because you never know when it  will happen again. I didn't realize I'd want to remember it for completely  different reasons. I watched the Pitt game with him yesterday and he was unconscious but I hope that maybe he got some joy out of how well they played. I know he believed in this team and I hope he will be watching down cheering them on from heaven.

Be nice to folks today. Have fun, be happy, tell people you love them, and do at least one thing that makes you feel truly grateful to be alive.

I_medium Despite the showdown with the Cavaliers going down Saturday night, Rick Pitino's pre-Virginia presser will be taking place today, not Friday, at 2 p.m.

I_medium Tony Bennett talked a little bit about Louisville on Wednesday and said a bunch of good things about the Cards' defense.

"He's a unique talent," Bennett said. "You add that competitiveness, and that's what's as good as most in the country."

Louisville has more than Harrell up its sleeve. Rozier leads the ACC in scoring at 18.5 points per game and ranks second in steals behind teammate Jones. The duo combines for 4.3 thefts per contest, spearheading a Cardinal defense that allows 58.8 points per game.

Bennett said Louisville was "as good of a defensive team as I've seen in quite a while."

"They're exceptional defensively," Bennett said. "Their scheme is unique, [and] they mix it up. It's impressive. They win with their defense a lot, and then they have certainly some playmakers and do things offensively, but they challenge you to take care of the ball."

Bennett said the Cardinals employ a combination of press, man-to-man and match-up zone defenses. Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino's squad often wins the ball-security battle. The Cardinals have forced 352 turnovers this year while coughing the ball up 270 times.

"You've got to take care of the ball [against them]," Bennett said.

I_medium The latest SB Nation Bracketology is out, and Louisville is the No. 3 seed in the South (Duke).

I_medium State of the U (Miami) reacts to Tuesday night's loss to the Cards.

I_medium Seedy K joins the ranks of those who don't understand the need for some in the Cardinal fan base to incessantly focus their attention on Wayne Blackshear. The bashing gets more difficult to fathom when you look at things the way Kaplan breaks it down.

The same type of thing is happening in this, his senior season, to Wayne Blackshear. He obviously is not meeting the expectations of many Cardinal fans, who seem to relish every chance they get to express how little Blackshear does for this team, how "awful" or "horrible" he's playing, what a "non-factor" he is.

It all seems misplaced to me.

Against the Hurricanes, WB tallied 7 points on 3/5 shooting, grabbed 2 boards, and had 2 blocks. His drive and short J at the 1:50 mark was probably the key score of the game, since it boosted U of L's dwindling advantage back to 5. His critical, deft deflection in the final minute sealed the game. And, he didn't even get credit for it in the official box score.

On a top heavy team, one that features arguably as stalwart a guard tandem as ever suited up for U of L, along with BeastMode Montrezl Harrell - Yeah, that's right, Marshwan Lynch - fourth option Blackshear is still averaging  a steady 11.2 ppg and 4.7 rpg.

As someone, who is trying to move beyond any nascent negativitude, I checked the stats and pulled out the history books for some long term perspective.

Here's what the Cards' fourth leading scorer has averaged for the last five seasons.

In '13-'14: Chris Jones, 10.2.

In '12-'13: Gorgui Dieng,  9.8.

In '11-'12: Chane Behanan, 9.5.

In '10-'11: Terrence Jennings, 9.6.

In '09-'10: Jared Swopshire, 7.5.

Checking all the way back to the beginning of the Denny Crum Era, which is, what 43 seasons ago more or less, only eight times has the fourth leading scorer averaged more than Wayne Blackshear is this season.

I_medium Whenever you have the time to dive into it, this longform read on Bobby Knight is really tremendous.

I_medium Mark Titus slots Louisville at No. 10 in his latest power rankings for Grantland, and wonders if U of L fans enjoy watching the Cards play.

I_medium Chris Smith has signed a deal with a professional team in Kosovo.

I_medium Dude can pull it off.

I_medium Steelers Depot profiles John Miller.

I_medium Louisville is up a pair of spots to No. 3 in this week's ACC power poll (video) from the ACC Digital Network.

I_medium Montrezl Harrell was named the Zags Blog National Player of the Week for last week.

I_medium The Cards are tied for fourth with North Carolina in the latest SB Nation ACC power poll.

I_medium Our good friends over at Beaux Tied have a new tie of the month, and this one ties (dammit) in with U of L's "Raise Red" Dance Marathon.

For each purchase of this tie, Beaux Tied will donate $10 to Raise Red, which raises money each year for pediatric cancer research.

I_medium Teddy Bridgewater was totally cool with not being drafted by the Browns.

I_medium Bill Connelly, SB Nation's resident college stats guru, has Louisville as a three seed in his latest bracket projection.

I_medium The Washington Post's John Feinstein is the latest to call for the NBA to do away with the so-called "one and done" rule and adopt a system like the one baseball has. It seems like such a simple fix and one that is almost universally being clamored for, so it blows my mind that we've gone almost a decade without the change being made.

I_medium Richard Pitino is following in his father's footsteps by banning all Minnesota players from using social media. The Gophers haven't lost since the new rule went into effect.

I_medium Sports Illustrated's most recent Bracket Watch has Louisville as the No. 3 seed in the East region with their Saturday opponent, Saturday.

I_medium Lookin' good.

I_medium Bobby Petrino might have been right when he said that the biggest signings of the offseason were Todd Grantham and Garrick McGee.

I_medium As much as I understand that it's "part of the deal," the stuff with Matthew Colburn doesn't sit especially well with me, nor did it sit well with me when Charlie Strong did the same thing back in 2011. I get that this happens with some regularity, but I really, really hope the kid has a tremendous college career.

I_medium Louisville is back up to No. 10 in the current Ken Pomeroy rankings.

I_medium Jeff Walz's squad may have taken a tough L earlier this week, but Jim and Judy Kenney still thoroughly enjoyed their trip to Durham.

I_medium U of L baseball has received its highest preseason ranking yet with a No. 7 nod from USA Today.

I_medium A little more proof of Teddy Bridgewater's fantastic rookie season.

I_medium Maurice Clarett will be on U of L's campus today and tomorrow for what should be a couple of cool events. If you have the opportunity to hear him speak tonight, I'd recommend it. He's a very interesting man.

I_medium Gorgui Dieng will be participating in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star weekend 2015. The game will take place on Friday, Feb. 13.

I_medium Tickets are now officially on sale for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Auburn.

I_medium Virginia is one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, but they'll be up against a very different style of opponent during Saturday night's showdown against the Cards.

"Teams can go on a run against them and they don't falter," North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige said Monday. "They run their stuff, they trust their stuff, and they buy into what their coach is telling them, and that's why they're successful. They're not the most talented team in our league, top to bottom. They buy into what Coach Bennett preaches to them, and it works when you really do that. ...

"We're trying to figure out how to do that. Like I said, we have talent, we have pieces. ... When you have five guys committed to helping each other on the floor, working together, setting good screens to get the right guys the ball, that's success. And when you have talent, it elevates it to another level."

The Cavaliers (20-1, 8-1) couldn't ask for a better recruiting endorsement, and fans couldn't ask for a more enticing defensive matchup than Saturday's. Virginia ranks third nationally in defensive efficiency, Louisville sixth, but the approaches couldn't be more different.

Rick Pitino's Cardinals press for 94 feet, while the Cavaliers rely on their halfcourt approach. Virginia shredded VCU's press for 68.3 percent shooting in December, but Louisville has better athletes.

I_medium If you're interested in a video of every damn snap that Teddy Bridgewater took this past season, there's a place for you.

I_medium Tom Crean, ladies and gentlemen (don't show the children).

I_medium UK baseball player A.J. Reed has been named the 2014 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year. Rick Pitino took home the honor in 2013.

I_medium Congratulations to Junior Bridgeman on being named a member of the 2015 ACC Legends class.

I_medium This is just how he walks.

I_medium The Louisville Cardinal previews the U of L track team.

I_medium After switching his commitment from Louisville to Washington State, wide receiver Dahu Green wound up signing with Oklahoma.

I_medium Yes, I saw it. And yes, I loved it.

Blown away by how "Slater" Mario Lopez still is.

I_medium Jeff Greer takes an early look at what will certainly be the biggest story throughout Louisville's spring ball and fall camp: the quarterback battle.

I_medium The ACC Digital Network discusses (video) Louisville's 2015 class.

I_medium As it stands right now, Terry Rozier is the best rebounding guard Rick Pitino has coached at Louisville.

I_medium And finally, ESPN asked a panel of eight of its college basketball experts to name the 12 teams in the country they would be the least surprised to see in the Final 4 at the end of the season. Kentucky, Arizona, Gonzaga, and Wisconsin were named on 100 percent of the ballots, while Louisville was one of six other teams that appeared on more than half of the lists.