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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

It won't be too long before we're all celebrating with friends in the PJCS stands once again.

I_medium Bobby Petrino hauled in a pair of 2016 commitments on Thursday, first landing Georgia offensive linemen Robbie Bell, and then getting a verbal from Desales High School punter Austin Johnson. Johnson is the younger brother of outgoing Cardinal punter Ryan Johnson.

I_medium Congrats to Jeff Walz, who has been named as an assistant coach for the 2015 USA Basketball Women's U19 World Championship Team. Walz helped the U-18 team earn a gold medal last summer.

I_medium Awesome.


I_medium Rick Pitino seems to believe that more good news is on the way.

I_medium Louisville is finally not No. 1 on the list of the most challenging places in America to live with spring allergies, slipping behind Jackson, MS and into the No. 2 spot. Somehow my allergies have not noticed the difference.

I_medium "Basketball" remains the most distinctive word in online dating profiles in the state of Kentucky.

I_medium ESPN's David Hale says improved run defense is going to be crucial for Louisville to have success in 2015.

In particular, it seemed the lack of linebackers who could set the edge consistently was a major cause of Louisville's late-season struggles.

On runs inside the tackles, Louisville made initial contact at roughly the same point both early (1.7 yards before contact) and late (1.9) in the season. But on the outside runs, things got noticeably worse. In the early games, first contact occurred an average of 2.1 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but in those final five games, that number climbed to 3.3, according to ESPN Stats & Information, while the average yards after contact nearly doubled.

Grantham also changed his approach a bit, with the average defenders in the box increasing from 6.5 yards per run through eight games to 7.2 during the final five, per ESPN Stats & Info.

In other words, there was a lot at play here. A lack of depth at linebacker -- particularly on the outside -- hurt Louisville. Poor tackling made things worse. Better opposition took advantage of both.

In 2015, the Cardinals return the bulk of their front seven, but Mauldin is an obvious exception. That likely puts the focus squarely on former TCU star Devonte Fields and junior Keith Brown, who moved from inside to outside this spring, to perform at a high level in 2015.

I_medium The Cardinal Sports Zone crew talks with Alvin Sims and tennis coach Rex Ecarma on their latest podcast.

I_medium CBS' Jon Solomon says college basketball is at a crossroads, and talks to nine coaches about the biggest problems with the game right now.

I_medium Travel and Leisure names Louisville as one of America's 15 friendliest cities.

I_medium Kentucky's Bud Dupree was misrepresented on an Upper Deck rookie card, and the reaction of former UK quarterback Jalen Whitlow, the player actually pictured, made me laugh.

I_medium The Cardinal lacrosse team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament by second-seeded Duke on Thursday. You can watch highlights here.

I_medium The Louisville baseball team's magic number to clinch the No. 1 overall seed for the ACC Tournament is just two.

The ACC schedule is winding down, but the 10-team field for the 2015 ACC Tournament at Durham Bulls Athletic Park has yet to materialize.

But the top of the league - Louisville, Miami and Florida State - has taken shape.

Louisville, which plays a non-conference series against Bethune-Cookman, is 31-10 overall and 19-2 in the league. The Cardinals aren't just in; their magic number to clinch the top overall seed is just two, with a four-game lead over Miami (30-11, 15-6).

Duke coach Chris Pollard, whose team took one of three from Louisville two weeks ago at DBAP, was among the chorus of coaches around the country who consider the Cardinals among the nation's best, deepest teams.

"They have tremendous depth of arms and good athleticism all over the diamond," Pollard said. "And (shortstop) Sutton Whiting is a great college player; he really makes them go."

Louisville is coming to Durham again, and the Cardinals will be the ACC Tournament favorites in their first season in the conference.

I_medium The U of L women's basketball team will participate in the 2015 Gulf Coast Shootout, a November tournament that will also feature Stanford, LSU and Dayton.

I_medium Providence's Kris Dunn and Oklahoma's Buddy Hield are both returning to school for another season of college hoops.

I_medium Tim Henderson spent the first part of his April doing ministry work in the Dominican Republic, where tales of his Final Four heroics are now celebrated daily.

I_medium The 13th-seeded U of L women's tennis team bowed out in the second round of the ACC Tournament with a 4-0 loss to fifth-seeded Clemson.

I_medium CBS' Jon Rothstein says Louisville is one of the biggest winners of college basketball's offseason so far.

3. April has been very good to Louisville

After a terrific run to the Elite Eight in which it lost to Michigan State in overtime, Rick Pitino and the Cardinals have quickly reconfigured their roster and look like a borderline Top-25 team heading into next season. Louisville has added two fifth-year transfers this month -- Trey Lewis (Cleveland State) and Damion Lee (Drexel) --- who both figure to be major contributors next season on the perimeter. Louisville shot just 30.7 percent from three-point range this past season and both Lewis and Lee made close to 40.0 percent of their shots from long distance in 14-15. Those two along with Quentin Snider and promising freshman Donovan Mitchell give the Cards a quartet that can be competitive with just about anyone they'll see in the ACC. Louisville also returns Jaylen Johnson, Mangok Mathiang and Chinanu Onuaku up front while adding promising first-year wing Deng Adel, who should be an immediate factor at 6-7.

I_medium ESPN takes an exhaustive look back at the reasons why the Cleveland Browns took Johnny Manziel instead of Teddy Bridgewater.

I_medium To no one's surprise, Louisville native D'Angelo Russell declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft on Thursday. Despite everyone assuming he would be a 1-and-done, Russell said the decision to leave Ohio State was not an easy one.

I_medium And finally, the third-ranked Louisville baseball team returns to Jim Patterson Stadium tonight at 6 for the first of a three-game non-conference series with Bethune-Cookman. Here are your series notes.