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Thursday afternoon cardinal news and notes

It’s true what they say: Gotham Classic time really is the most magical time of the year.

—The fourth-ranked U of L women are back in action tonight at the Yum Center when they host Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. Here’s a preview.

—The Undefeated reminds us all that Gorgui Dieng is the greatest person alive.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng will never forget seeing a pregnant woman helplessly lying on the floor waiting for medical attention in a severely antiquated hospital in his hometown of Kebeber, Senegal, about 3 1/2 years ago.

It was the same hospital Dieng was born in on Jan. 18, 1990. There was nothing electronic at this hospital. Most beds didn’t have mattresses and patients lay on springs. Babies were warmed in incubators by a light bulb. The odds of getting decent health care were slim.

“I was visiting someone at the hospital and the doctor that was there was the same doctor I saw when I was in Senegal,” Dieng said. “I went to the visiting room to say hi to him and there was a pregnant lady laying on the ground. I asked him what was going on. He said he was waiting for someone to leave a table so she could lay there. I looked at the room and there was only one table there. No beds.

“I asked him if I could take a tour and see what the hospital needs. The building was OK, but the equipment was the issue. I told the doctor to give me a note and tell me everything that he needs. I told him, ‘I’m not going to promise you anything, but I will do my best to help.’ ”

Dieng has done more than his best to help his hometown and Senegal.

The hospital is now updated. There is a new dialysis center with 200 beds. Farming tutoring is offered on his land. There is more on the horizon through his foundation.

—Jeremy Pruitt is the new head coach at Tennessee, a man who 10 years ago was an assistant coach at Hoover High School who didn’t know what asparagus was.

Quite the rags to riches story.

Two-a-Days was so great.

—The total arc of the Tennessee coaching search is staggering.

—I’m gonna have to go ahead and agree with the voters here.

—Unfortunately, Baker Mayfield won the actual award, receiving 51 out of a possible 56 first-place votes. Lamar Jackson finished third in the voting.

—We’ve seen plenty of breakdowns of Lamar Jackson’s best plays this season, but here’s a breakdown (video) of the six interceptions he threw in 2017.

—The Louisville Arena Authority announced Tuesday that it has completed the KFC Yum Center refinancing deal.

The Louisville Arena Authority said Wednesday it successfully refinanced the KFC Yum! Center’s construction debt, a step meant to avoid a looming default and make paying off the downtown arena more affordable.

The $377.8 million in new bonds were bought by national investment houses and individual investors in Kentucky, arena officials said.

For more than a year, arena leaders achieved political victories at the local and state levels needed to lock in public funds for the Yum! Center’s debt plan. They also convinced the University of Louisville to amend its lease and pay up to $2.42 million more annually to the arena authority for using the building.

“It is a tremendous achievement in my opinion by the arena authority, the state, the city and the University of Louisville to get this accomplished,” arena authority chairman Scott C. Cox said in an interview.

“And I can tell you that there wasn’t one bit of it, one part of it, that was easy,” he said. “But everyone pulled together and we got it done -- and we couldn’t be any more proud.”

—I know we were all a little worried about the first half against Siena last night, but at least we weren’t No. 2 Kansas, which lost to unranked Washington, or No. 5 Florida, which lost to unranked Loyola of Chicago. No one is safe ... except Duke and Villanova ... probably ... at least for the rest of the month.

—National Player of the Year.

—Mallory Comerford has been named the National Swimmer of the Week for Division I.

—I think my favorite part of this video are the sports radio shock jocks who are acting like their candidate just won a Senate race.

—U of L has a holiday ticket deal where you can tickets to five ACC women’s basketball home games for a total of just four bucks.

—Here’s the official U of L recap of last night’s win over Siena.

—Dillon Avare still balling.

—Jeff Greer says U of L may have gotten the wake-up call it needed Wednesday night.

—Indiana site Inside the Hall takes an early look at what to expect from Louisville Saturday afternoon.

—Hard agree here.

—The paper of note in Albany gives its take on Louisville-Siena.

—I’m gonna have to have a word with the brass at Shenanigans.

—Usually when Google news mistakenly attaches an image from one story to another it makes no sense. But this is perfect.

—A writer for our friends over at Crimson Quarry is appearing on Jeopardy, which is cool.

—And finally, R&R is recapping last night’s win and recapping everything else going on in Louisville sports from 3-6 this afternoon on 790-KRD.