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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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U of L golf alum Adam Hadwin spent some time with fellow Cardinal fans Madison and Nate Gerstle before teeing it up at his first Masters.

I_medium Brendan McKay has been named college baseball's Midseason Player of the Year by Perfect Game.

I_medium The ACC Digital Network lays out (video) its early top five for next basketball season and has Louisville at No. 3.

I_medium Kennedy Meeks went from failing UNC's conditioning test 11 times as a freshman to leading the Tar Heels to a national title as a senior. Good story.

I_medium The national championship game Monday night was the second-most watched since 1994, and overall, the NCAA tournament was the second most-watched in 23 years.

Turner Sports and CBS Sports' exclusive coverage of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship delivered huge audiences across all platforms -€” television, digital and social.  The 2017 NCAA Tournament on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV is the second most-watched in 23 years (1994), averaging 10.827 million viewers, which is also up +16% from last year (9.373 million viewers).

Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live netted a record-setting 98 million live video streams during the NCAA Tournament, up +33% over last year.  The National Championship game garnered 4.4 million live video streams, an all-time record for the title game.

Official March Madness social media handles garnered over 74 million engagements throughout the NCAA Tournament, a 42% increase over last year.

Last night's National Championship game airing on CBS, with North Carolina defeating Gonzaga, was watched by an average of 22.998 million viewersup +30% from last year.  The game peaked with 26.105 million viewers from 11:15-11:30 p.m. ET.

I_medium After missing all of last season because he was hit with a stray bullet during a visit home, Cornelius Sturghill is "just thanking God" that he's here and healthy.

I_medium Dedric and K.J. Lawson are both transferring from Memphis, which is news that directly affects Louisville since the two teams are scheduled to play next season. It's also news that has some wondering if Tubby Smith was the wrong hire for the program.

He was blunt, at the very least.

"Two middle fingers as I make my exit," tweeted K.J. Lawson, along with the considerably more formal statement explaining that both he and his brother Dedric Lawson will be transferring to another school.

The tweet was later deleted. The sentiment remains.

Two middle fingers to Tubby Smith and the Memphis Tigers as the Lawsons head out of town. And not to turn pro or anything spin-able like that. Just to play somewhere else.

Could this get any more ugly? Could the Memphis men's basketball program be any more of a flaming disaster?

"I am surprised and disappointed in the decision," said Smith in a statement.

I_medium Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are the latest to offer speedy Trinity receiver Rondale Moore, who has been flooded with offers in recent days.

I_medium Kentucky's Isaiah Briscoe is heading to the NBA Draft, and will sign with an agent.

I_medium Love this guy.

I_medium The U of L spirit groups kick off their annual national competitions in Daytona today. Let's bring home national championships numbers 95,676-95,689.

I_medium Jeff Brohm is bringing energy and direction to the Purdue football program.

I_medium Here's what the U of L football players had to say after Wednesday's practice:

I_medium Incoming UK freshman Jarred Vanderbilt is guaranteeing that Kentucky is going to win the national title next year. That's worked for precisely none of the 20 other incoming freshmen that has made similar guarantees about their respective programs in recent years, so I'm good with it.

I_medium I don't fully understand it, but I like it.

I_medium Louisville's 2017 recruiting class is now ranked seventh in the country by Rivals.

I_medium College basketball is the only major American sport where a story like Gonzaga's is possible.

I_medium U of L signee Malik Williams is a finalist for Indiana's Mr. Basketball award.

I_medium Steve Jones of the C-J gives his thoughts on Tuesday's open U of L football practice.

I_medium "Just like every other fan base" though.

An investigator for a Nebraska law enforcement agency said Wednesday he is reviewing hundreds of confirmed or possible threats against an Omaha basketball official who worked Kentucky's NCAA Tournament loss to North Carolina.

Matt Barrall of the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department said he was in his fifth day working full-time on the case, and no end was in sight.

"We are taking this very, very — extremely — seriously," Barrall said. "Some people might say, 'Oh, it's just a basketball game.' But what if some mentally unstable person decides this is the way to make a name for himself?"

Referee John Higgins' roofing company was inundated with harassing emails, phone calls and voice mails — including death threats against Higgins and his family — starting shortly after Kentucky's 75-73 loss to North Carolina on March 26. Kentucky coach John Calipari criticized the officiating during his postgame news conference.

Barrall said he has identified 450 phone calls or messages and another 200-300 messages on social media or in emails that were "of a threatening nature."

Some of those met the criteria to be considered terroristic threats under Nebraska law. Barrall said he wouldn't disclose how many until after he reviews all the messages. Under Nebraska law, making terroristic threats is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

"This case offers up a lot of potential offenders, most of whom made a stupid decision in joining in on a prank, but serious injuries are possible and we should draw the line at the law," Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

About 3,000 phone calls came into Higgins' office in the two days after the game, Barrall said. He estimated 75 percent were from Kentucky area codes.

I hope someone gets charged. I really do. It seemed like the insanity bubble in this state was going to burst a few years ago, and instead it just keeps expanding.

I_medium Louisville is No. 4 in Gary Parrish's early rankings for CBS.

I_medium This is well done.

I_medium Creighton's Justin Patton has declared and will sign with an agent. Same with Arizona's Kobi Simmons.

I_medium The Miracle of St. Anthony is one of my favorite books, so I was incredibly sad to hear that the school/basketball powerhouse is closing its doors.

I_medium ESPN's Andrea Adelson says everything looks new for Louisville football this spring.

What is interesting to watch, though, are the clear differences between the two coordinators. Where Grantham was aggressive and fiery, Sirmon is more measured and cerebral. Where Grantham always had the loudest voice on the practice field, Sirmon is calmer, doling out advice and reminders without screaming. Where Grantham had a complex series of calls for plays, Sirmon has simplified the approach to get the most out of his players.

Units often take on the personalities of their coaches. In this case, how the defense morphs to fit what Sirmon wants to do will be telling as the offseason progresses. So far, there is no way to get an accurate gauge because players are being asked to learn new terminology, play new roles and get to know their new leader all at once.

"They know what we want them to do. Now, we need to see the execution of it," Sirmon said. "They can sit here and tell you I should have done this, but now we need to see once we go fast that we can actually execute what they know they're supposed to do."

A few days ago, cornerback Jaire Alexander tried to explain the challenge to local reporters with a fruit metaphor: Does calling a banana a new name make it a different fruit? No. Does calling a play a new name make it a different play? No. You just have to remember to use the new name.

Alexander sheepishly admitted that teammates started leaving oranges in his locker for his creative attempt at an explanation.

"All in all, I like the switch," Alexander said. "With the new staff, it helps us realize we really have to come together as a unit, especially since there's a new playbook. We have to come together and work on this together. You only get one chance to play with everybody on that team at that time, so might as well make the most of it."

I_medium The NFL and Amazon recently reached a streaming deal worth a reported $50 million. Expect this to be the next big thing for college conferences.

I_medium Ter gon' Ter.

I_medium Luke Winn is the best basketball writer on the planet, and his take on Gonzaga's run to the national title game is worth your time.

I_medium ESPN lays out the reason why every football team in the ACC won't win the conference.

Louisville Cardinals

Have you seen the play against Houston where Louisville's left guard rocks back before the snap in preparation for the pass rush, then simply tumbles backward? That about sums up where the Cardinals' starting point on the O-line is. Lamar Jackson is a magician, but even Houdini couldn't find his way out from behind that mess of a line.

I_medium Athlon ranks every non-conference schedule in the ACC for the 2017 football season, and says Louisville has the second easiest.

I_medium Louisville enjoys college basketball, exhibit 8 billion.

I_medium Louisville commit Courtney Ramey was a top performer last weekend at the NY2LA Swish N Dish.

I_medium Dan McDonnell is quoted in this story about why the modern youth baseball player can't throw straight or play catch.

I_medium Enjoyed this entirely too much.

I_medium The NCAA conducted a pre-hearing conference with Rick Pitino on the same day Louisville played at North Carolina. That might explain why Pitino was so fired up and so easily agitated on that night.

I_medium Athlon ranks the last 33 college basketball national champions, and has Louisville's 2013 team at No. 24, and its '86 squad at 29. Those are both too low. Especially the second one.

I_medium And finally, the CCBM did its thing at the Final Four in Phoenix:

I really thought Dicie V was flicking the mask off at first glance. I guess we're cool.