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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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It's a mid-May Friday and the living's easy.

I_medium Your must-read of the day comes from CNN, which profiles U of L football manager Ryan Dant's remarkable story. I won't say anymore, just read it.

I_medium Because of weather, first pitch for today's first game of the mammoth series between Louisville and Clemson has been bumped up to 1 p.m. Here's your series preview.

I_medium College Football News previews Louisville and asks if the Cardinals are "college football's sugar rush."

Yeah, the Cardinals at least won a share of the ACC Atlantic crown, but no one's wearing a t-shirt hyping that up.

But even though the you-are-what-your-record-is final outcome might not have been exactly what UofL fans might have liked after the way everything started, at least it proved that the program has the ability to still be a major factor. Even in a season when Florida State was loaded with elite recruiting superstars, and Clemson was good enough to win the national title, the Cardinals still owned a great deal of the spotlight.

Bobby Petrino -€” going back to his first stint as the head coach of the program from 2003 to 2006 -€” has won nine games or more in six of his seven years at Louisville, and now he's doing it with a style and flair that could take things to a whole other level once the next wave of talent comes through.

But was that it? With Florida State loaded and Clemson terrific again, can the Cardinals possibly recreate the same magic, but sustain it this time for a full season?

I_medium The Louisville softball team's run at the ACC tournament was a short one. The second-seeded Cards were upset 5-2 by NC State Thursday night.

I_medium The Cardinal lacrosse team opens play in the NCAA tournament tonight at 5 against James Madison. A preview and a link to the live stream of the game are here.

I_medium Best football player in the country? Check. Best baseball player in the country? Check. Best STUDENT ROCKET SCIENTISTS in the country? Check.

I_medium Congratulations to Louisville women's golfer Lauren Hartlage on being named the ACC's Freshman of the Year.

I_medium We need Russ Smith on the infractions committee.

"I don't think there's concern," Smith said. "I'm not worried about it. I feel like it'll all pass. ... I feel like the 2013 banner is here to stay. I have no worries of that ever coming down. I have a strong feeling."

Smith, who averaged 18.7 points per game for the title team, explained his reasoning behind such confidence. His understanding, he said, is that the violations primarily involved recruits "that weren't on that team."

The NCAA's notice of allegations, released in October, accused former director of basketball operations Andre McGee of providing impermissible inducements to at least 17 prospective or then-current student-athletes at U of L, in addition to a friend of an athlete and two non-scholastic coaches.

The names in that report, however, were redacted.

...

"There wasn't anybody on that team that did anything to deserve the banner being brought down," Smith said. " ... That had nothing to do with anything basketball-wise. That was a totally different situation."

I_medium More discussion about whether or not the Twins will take Brendan McKay at No. 1 overall, here.

I_medium SB Nation's Bud Elliott says you can expect the ACC to look a lot like the SEC in 2017.

Aside from Jackson, how many returning ACC quarterbacks can you name? Deondre Francoiswas promising for a redshirt freshman, but a completion percentage of 47.2 against five ranked teams shows he has a long way to go. Other than Francois, you're probably going to have to cheat with Google.

Seven of the league's top 10 receivers (and 13 of the top 20) are also gone, including names like Mike WilliamsDavid NjokuRyan SwitzerIsaiah FordBucky Hodges, and Stacy Coley.

Also gone are the league's top four running backs in Dalvin CookJames ConnerWayne Gallman, and Matt Dayes.

That's just so much firepower lost. And pair that with all of the elite defensive talent coming back.

Florida State's defense, led by the return of Derwin James, figures to be nasty. So does Clemson's, which could have three future first-round picks on the defensive line alone. And Miami could have the league's best front seven. Same goes for NC State and Boston College. And Pitt's defense could be in for a turnaround.

In fact, SB Nation's way-too-early mock draft for 2018 has an incredible eight (8!) defensive players from the ACC projected in the first round, but just two on the offensive side of the ball.

If this goes the way it looks like it might, the next question will be: Is this bad offense, as it is usually labeled, or great defense, as it is described by SEC observers?

I_medium ESPN's David Hale says that while it's true that defense may dominate, offense is still likely to determine who wins the league.

I_medium Appreciate all the podcast suggestions yesterday. Your task for today: I'm going to Ireland at the end of the month (pumped), and could use any last minute suggestions about what to do/what not to do from anyone who's made the trip themselves. Thank you in advance.

I_medium Why did football players in the 1980s look 42?

I_medium Donovan Mitchell is all the way up to No. 12 in the latest mock draft from Draft Express.

I_medium South Oldham's Jo Griffin has officially signed on as a preferred walk-on at U of L.

I_medium You don't want any, kids.

I_medium Cincinnati and UCLA have agreed to a home and home basketball series that will start this December.

I_medium Donovan Mitchell talks about his comments after the Michigan game and how hard it was to tell Rick Pitino he wasn't coming back.

"It took me a while to get over the loss, to be honest," Mitchell said. "I know right after the game, I said, ‘I'm coming back to win a national championship,' because that's just the competitive nature I have inside of me. It took me a while to make a decision. I was really going to miss Louisville, the fans, the coaches, everything about it. But, you know, at the same time you have to think about what's best for yourself. And I'd say, probably around a week or so after school was out, I decided, ‘You know what? I'm ready.'"

Mitchell said he was encouraged to make the jump by several friends who have been successful in the NBA, and input from various places. He said he consulted with Pitino, who has supported his decision.

Still, breaking the news to Pitino wasn't easy, he said.

"Oh man, I was avoiding that phone call all day. It was tough," Mitchell said. "I love Coach P, love everything about Coach P. And I thanked him a million times for what he has done for me the past two years. He said he supports me 100 percent. He completely understands why I made my decision, and he said if I need anything, just give him a call. And the fact that you have that support from him is amazing. It was definitely a tough decision. I talk to the guys on the team every day, still. It's going to be tough not being around Ray (Spalding's) jokes and Deng (Adel), but it's the right decision for me."

I_medium Frank Jackson is the third Dukie from the 2016-17 Blue Devil team to announce that he is one-and-done.

I_medium This year's U of L football women's clinic is set for June 3.

I_medium Evander Holyfield's championship boxing series is coming to Freedom Hall.

I_medium And finally, Brendan McKay and Devin Hairston have both been named semifinalists for national awards.