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Tuesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Nathan Richardson is beyond thrilled that basketball is back.

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—Spread check: Syracuse by 21.

—It’s opening night for the 5th-ranked Louisville women’s basketball team, which faces Western Kentucky in Bowling Green at 8 p.m.

—The Louisville men’s team doesn’t hit the court until Thursday, but Tuesday’s slate of opening night games is still pretty awesome. Here’s a look at the 10 best.

—Malik Williams is the first Louisville player to earn the coveted gold jersey for a second time this season.

—Can Louisville find a niche for Williams? Jeff Greer explores.

“Last year when Malik got here, he couldn’t make a post move,” says Enoch, grinning. “He’s worked hard on his inside game, because that’s where we need him to be effective. He’s gotten better every day. He’s gotten way stronger. He’s a beast down there. Last year, I wouldn’t call him a beast.”

Williams agreed that the added strength makes a big difference. It helped him in workouts against Enoch and graduate transfer Akoy Agau, who should help in the post but is being eased into action after coming off of multiple surgeries over the past few seasons. Williams also closely worked with graduate assistant Jason Love, a 6-9, 265-pound former Xavier post who was an All-Atlantic 10 selection as a senior and played eight seasons overseas.

“Last year I was a totally different Malik,” Williams says. “Now I’m stronger and I’m able to hold my post position, and that does build trust with my teammates. They don’t want to throw it in there and have me lose my seal and my position, and they get a turnover.”

It hasn’t always been rosy progress. Mack says Williams “told on himself a little bit” when he tallied 11 points and six rebounds in the team’s scrimmage on Oct. 21. Williams’ work in the previous practices wasn’t up to snuff, Mack adds, saying it was inconsistent at best. That criticism is similar to what held Williams back last season as a freshman.

—John Harbaugh is mulling over the idea of letting Lamar Jackson play a full series.

—Gary Parrish has 68 thoughts about the college hoops season ahead.

—247 Sports predicts Jordan Nwora will be one of the ACC’s breakout players this season.

—Say it with me: The Cards are back.

—Cardinal Nick Albiero has been named the ACC Swimmer of the Week.

—Not to be outdone, U of L volleyball’s Claire Chaussee has been named ACC Volleyball Freshman of the Week.

—Former U of L offensive lineman Jake Smith weighs in on the current disaster that is Louisville football.

“Most (former players) I’ve spoken to — 10 or 15 guys — have said this is a poorly coached team,” said Smith, an offensive lineman who captained Petrino’s 2014 team. “It’s kind of a consensus. We have good players. We have good-looking players. (But) they don’t use their hands. For a defensive lineman, you’re not going to stop an offensive lineman unless you get your hands in his chest.”

Smith, a four-year starter at U of L, made pointed criticisms of the current team last month on the condition of anonymity. But after watching the Clemson debacle, he agreed to share his frustrations for the record.

“Pursuit is an issue, and pursuit is coachable,” he said. “I have a hard time speaking to the technique of a corner. But you don’t have a hard time watching effort. It’s just obvious that coaching could be better.”

—Baseball America re-ranks the top recruiting classes of 2014 and has Louisville’s at No. 1.

—Evan Daniels makes his preseason predictions for the college basketball season.

—It would seem as though Kelly Bryant is no longer considering Louisville as a potential transfer destination.

—You’re just getting back into form, Derrick, this is not a problem you want.

—Kentucky fans, like Clemson fans, have an almost astonishing inability to recognize sarcasm.

—Lamelo Ball is returning to high school. Sort of.

—Myself and David Padgett will be two of the panelists at Friday’s YP Unite Summit hosted by YPAL. There’s more information on the event here.

— has Louisville at No. 9 in its preseason conference power rankings.

No. 9 Louisville

Chris Mack arrives and instantly establishes a new culture for Louisville. Over his final five seasons at Xavier, Mack and the Musketeers won 21+ games each season and posted top-50 offenses. That’s a good thing. The roster is interesting — no obvious stars but plenty of talent. After a summer playing for the Nigerian national team, is Jordan Nwora ready for an elevated role?

—Clemson Sports Talk reacts to Saturday’s demolition in South Carolina.

—Louisville’s 2018 season is now being referred to by some as “The Bobby Petrino Farewell Tour.” Shades of 2009.

—Despite being heavily favored, there’s no way that Syracuse is going to overlook Louisville on Friday night.

Babers used a chunk of the team’s weekly Sunday meeting to ensure that his players won’t look past a dismal Cardinals team toward a high-profile matchup with No. 3 Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium on Nov. 17.

”We were in here yesterday and I put up the score of the 2017 game,” Babers said. “And then I started asking guys, ‘How many people in here have beaten the Louisville Cardinals?’ And then I started putting up the yardage from those games.”

SU hasn’t beaten Louisville in any of its four ACC matchups and all of those losses have come in embarrassing fashion -- from the last two Lamar Jackson-led blowouts to a 2015 game that Dungey was left in too long and suffered a season-ending injury to the 2014 game that featured a host of cringeworthy moments.

That contest included quarterback Terrel Hunt fracturing his fibula, offensive woes that led to George McDonald’s demotion from offensive coordinator and Scott Shafer’s postgame presser in which he brought up ISIS beheading people.

This year’s matchup shapes up to go in the opposite direction as the Orange opened as a 21.5-point favorite.

—We’re on the verge of setting a new Louisville record for the most rainfall in one year. There’s a joke to be made involving tears and Cardinal fans, but I don’t have the heart to go there.

—I discovered last night that Ron Cooper was younger than I am when he was first hired as Louisville’s head football coach. The revelation makes that entire period of Cardinal football seem even stranger to me, which is saying something.

—Awesome to have Eric back to near full strength.

—Jeff Walz’s current crop of freshmen have one major thing in common: They’re all from the state of Kentucky.

—There are a limited amount of tickets still available for Thursday’s USL Cup final.

—And finally, we’re on the radio from 3-6 today discussing the start of basketball and more madness out of the Louisville football program. You can listen here if you are so inclined.