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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Zack Bickel brings the fall tour to the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.

—Spread check: Boston College by 13.5.

—Matt Norlander has a great recap of Wednesday’s college hoops trial events, which included former Adidas “fixer” T.J. Gassnola admitting on the stand that he helped make payments to five players: Brian Bown, Silvio DeSousa (Kansas), DeAndre Ayton (Arizona), Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State) and Billy Preston (Kansas).

—Gassnola was back on the stand this morning/afternoon (and is still on the stand as of the time I’m typing this) to give details on his payments to players.

As far as Brian Bowen is concerned, Gassnola claims that Rick Pitino didn’t know anything about the 100K deal with Bowen Sr., but believes Kenny Johnson did. However, Gassnola also stated that Christian Dawkins believed Johnson did not know about the deal.

I just want to talk about Nicholls State.

—The 22nd-ranked U of L volleyball team moved to 7-0 in ACC play with a five-set win over Notre Dame Wednesday night.

—This is dumb.

—Also dumb.

—Panini America has a new Donovan Mitchell trading card to go with its Louisville collection.

—Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News says it’s time to kill any “death penalty for Louisville” talk.

The NCAA also would need to be careful about engendering another legal fight were it to assess another season-long or multi-season ban. Not only does defending against lawsuits cost money, as we learned this week in the case of former Southern California football assistant Todd McNair, losing can undermine the organization’s authority.

A Los Angeles County judge ruled just this week that the NCAA’s “show-cause” penalty against McNair violated California law, declaring it represented an “unlawful restraint” that hindered him from gaining employment in college coaching.

The assessment of the death penalty has the potential to interfere with many businesses related to college athletics, directly and tangentially, and it is likely the NCAA would have to defend itself against multiple cases were it to order Louisville to cease fielding a men’s basketball team for a year or more. There are broadcasts contracts in which U of L is engaged, and there may be deals arranged for outside tournaments and events. There is the commitment to play home games at the city’s KFC Yum! Center, an arena that already has fiscal issues even with roughly 20 dates a year from its primary tenant.

The NCAA has enough trouble to manage without inviting this upon itself.

—The Utah Jazz have have exercised their third-year team option on Donovan Mitchell for the 2019-20 season.

—Shoutout to my guys the Louisville Chargers, an undefeated local team currently ranked in the top 15 nationally.

Special shouts to my dude Ja’Hyde “JaHeisman” Brown, who used to sit in front of me at U of L football home games.

He could probably start for the Cards right now.

—Louisville sits at No. 114 in the FEI rankings from Football Outsiders. Who is No. 115, you ask? That would be Rutgers.

—I’m interested to see if this becomes a trend.

For the first time ever in Division I men’s college basketball, teams competing at the 2018 Hall of Fame Classic Powered by ShotTracker will have access to ShotTracker’s live stats and analytics on the benches during game play.

The NCAA has granted a waiver that will allow coaches for Missouri State, Nebraska, Texas Tech and USC to utilize the ShotTracker Team app on iPads for coaching purposes during the Hall of Fame Classic championship round games.

The use of technology on team benches during competition is currently not permitted by NCAA men’s basketball playing rules. The NCAA waiver will make the Hall of Fame Classic the first set of games in Division I history where coaches will have access to real-time advanced analytics on a handheld device during live competition.

“We’re thrilled to bring ShotTracker’s game-enhancing technology to NCAA Division I games for the first time at the Hall of Fame Classic,” said Davyeon Ross, co-founder and COO of ShotTracker. “ShotTracker is proud to drive this next stage of growth in college basketball, and we are excited to take this major step in bringing the extraordinary power of live analytics to the NCAA level. The power and applications of this technology will have a significant impact on college basketball.”

ShotTracker is a revolutionary sensor-based system that automatically captures and delivers live stats and analytics for an entire team in real-time. All four teams will be equipped with an iPad for use at the Hall of Fame Classic, along with a dedicated ShotTracker team liaison to educate coaches on how to best utilize the collected data. Following the games, event operators will compile feedback from coaches for the NCAA as it continues to evaluate the use of bench technology.

—Brett McMurphy says Tua Tagovailoa has already won the Heisman Trophy, and that the only remaining drama surrounds the issue of who is going to join him in New York.

—We’ve got scandal in the Pac-12, where a Yahoo report shows that an untrained “third party” overturned a targeting call that likely cost Washington State a win over USC earlier this season.

—Another preseason top 10 national ranking for U of L women’s basketball.

—The 11th-ranked U of L men’s soccer team will host No. 24 Syracuse on Friday. Here’s a preview.

—U of L QB commit Jaden Johnson says he’s still “100 percent committed” to the Cards despite the way the 2018 season has gone.

—Star point guards seem to be becoming a thing of the past in college basketball.

—Athlon likes Boston College over Louisville with relative ease on Saturday.

Final Analysis

Whether or not AJ Dillon is ready to go on Saturday will go a long way toward determining Louisville’s upset chances, but either way, the Cardinals have their work cut out for them. Pass has made significant strides in the last couple weeks, but at the same time, the Louisville defense seems to be heading in the opposite direction. Boston College has lost two of its last three but played well late last week to build some momentum for Saturday’s contest. Regardless of whether Dillon plays, the Cardinals have way more weaknesses for the Eagles to exploit. This one also happens to take place at Alumni Stadium.

Prediction: Boston College 38, Louisville 20

—The fourth-ranked U of L women’s swim and dive team will be taking on a handful of fellow nationally-ranked foes at the SMU Classic.

—Attendance for Louisville football home games is dropping, but you already knew that.

—This is mesmerizing.

—The advanced stats say the same thing as the normal stats: Georgia Tech whipped Louisville’s ass in every conceivable way.

—With Louisville now involved, don’t rule out the NCAA vacating the Arab Peace Initiative.

“Paying parents of recruits, having strippers in dorms, killing and dismembering Turkish officials .... WAKEY LEAKS. When will the repugnant behavior end?”

—Four-star Ballard High School linebacker Jared Casey will announce his college decision this afternoon. Though he’s picking between Louisville, Kentucky, Oregon and Wisconsin, most expect Casey to choose either UK or the Ducks. Awesome.

—Sports Illustrated looks at the first-year college basketball coaches who are best positioned for success in 2018-19.


Last season: 22–14, ninth in ACC

Mack’s name popped up in nearly every blue-blood job vacancy during the latter part of his tenure at Xavier, and he finally leapt at an opportunity to rebuild Louisville’s program. The shadow of the Rick Pitino era (and the ongoing Brian Bowen fallout) may still hang over this season, but the Cardinals should have enough returning talent to stay competitive. Four of last year’s five leading scorers (Deng Adel, Ray Spalding, Quentin Snider and Anas Mahmoud) are off to the pros, meaning there will be plenty of opportunity to experiment and get the best out of the roster. Whether that’s enough to match last year’s 9–9 conference record is yet to be seen, but for better or worse, this is an in-between year. The Cardinals presently have four four-star recruits inbound for 2019, and whatever positive results and player development take place this season is ultimately about setting a long-term foundation.

Perennial underachiever V.J. King will likely be the key to this team approaching its ceiling—the junior wing has never quite tapped into his talent, but has always possessed the tools to be the best player on the roster. Sophomore bigs Malik Williams and Jordan Nwora are both capable floor spacers, and will be due for major upticks in minutes and shots. Graduate transfers Christen Cunningham (Samford) and Khwan Fore (Richmond) will help prop up the backcourt, and sophomore Darius Perry will get his first crack at a big role. Compared to the rest of the conference, it’s an unproven group, but there’s enough talent and athleticism on the roster that Louisville could conceivably grind out some results. At the very least, Mack should reasonably be expected to reorient the program in the right direction.

—The CJ makes its local high school football picks for week nine.

—BC Interruption talks a little about the Eagles’ loss to NC State before looking ahead to Saturday’s game against Louisville.

—And finally, R&R is live from the Sports & Social Club at Fourth Street Live this afternoon from 3-6. As always, you can listen to the show here.