—Spread check: Louisville by 11.
—Your game day GIF is here.
—Congrats to Christi Mack and Patrick McSweeney on being among those inducted into the Louisville Catholic Sports Hall of Fame.
—Sports Illustrated’s college hoops writers debate which first-year head coach has had the most success so far this season, and Chris Mack expectedly gets some love.
WHICH JOB BY A FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACH HAVE YOU BEEN MOST IMPRESSED WITH SO FAR?
Greene: Chris Mack at Louisville. With all the tumult in that athletic department, there was no guarantee even a coach with his bona fides would succeed out of the gate. While Louisville has already lost three times, two of those defeats were by one possession away from home against quality teams (Marquette and Indiana) and the third was on a neutral floor to now-No. 3 Tennessee. Meanwhile among the Cards’ wins are an upset of Michigan State and a true road win at Seton Hall. That’s a pretty darn good showing for a challenging early schedule in a transition season. This looks like a team that will be in the at-large mix come March. Also, an honorable mention should be made of Dan Hurley’s quality start with a UConn program that slid off the rails last season.
Woo: Dan Hurley has UConn at a respectable 7–3, and has taken in essence the same group that went 14–18 last season and injected a huge dose of identity. That’s commendable, and watching the Huskies’ transformation from a lackluster team into a group that looks fully bought-in has been fun—their win over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden was a nice statement, and they look like a team that can hang near the top of the AAC as the conference slate approaches. They’ll blitz you defensively and try to create chaos, and have gotten results, playing Arizona and Florida State close this month. Jalen Adams isn’t a great pro prospect, but he’s a solid leading man for them, and having Alterique Gilbert healthy has been a huge boost. Once Hurley begins to cycle recruits in, expect the Huskies to return to national relevance sooner than later. The NCAA tournament may be within reach for this group.
Meyer: Utah State has gone from starting the season ranked No. 168 on kenpom.com to currently residing at No. 58. First-year head coach Craig Smith has greatly improved the speed the Aggies have been playing at, shooting up to 62nd in adjusted tempo after not going higher than 238th in the three years under Tim Duryea. This program is already markedly improved in Smith’s initial campaign at the helm, and the Aggies have emerged as the best bet to hand Nevada a loss.
Geary: I’ll also go with Utah State’s Craig Smith, as I’m not overly surprised that Chris Mack and Dan Hurley already have things pointing in the right direction at their respective schools. Smith inherited a team that lost two of its top four scorers, but signed JUCO guard John Knight III in May and brought in Portuguese center Neemias Queta in late August. Those two additions are paying dividends right now behind returning duo Sam Merrill and Dwayne Brown Jr., and Utah State currently boasts the best defensive rebounding rate in the country, with Queta leading the way there. The Aggies may not be able to challenge Nevada for the top spot in the Mountain West, but the program, which hasn’t won 20 games since 2012–13, is definitely ahead of schedule.
Shapiro: Romeo Langford and Indiana took down Louisville 68–67 on Saturday, but that hasn’t clouded my judgment of Chris Mack’s early results with the Cardinals. Louisville was picked to finish 11th in the ACC in the preseason. It now sits at 6–3, with an impressive win over Michigan State on Nov. 27. The Cardinal looked competitive vs. Tennessee and beat Seton Hall. They’ll have a smooth three games before a matinee matchup against Kentucky on Dec. 29. Conference play projects to be grueling, but Mack’s rebuild at Louisville is thus far ahead of schedule.
Caron: Jeff Capel at Pittsburgh. Capel left Duke to take over a terrible Pitt program that Kevin Stallings did no favors for. This is not to say the Panthers look good—by any means—but they still look significantly better than last season. After a hot start, Pitt has lost three of its last four games, although two of those losses came by one point each. There’s clearly still a ton of work to be done to turn things around, but we also have to give Capel some time to bring in his own recruits and really rebuild the program. There’s simply a lack of talent on the team right now and the fact that Pitt, after going 8–24 and 0–18 in ACC play last season, is already at 7–3 in 2018–19 is a nod to what Capel is capable of even given the situation he inherited.
—U of L signee Josh Nickelberry remains the leading scorer in the state of North Carolina after a 32-point performance Tuesday night.
—Many coaches loathe the grad transfer rule, but college basketball’s hottest trend isn’t going anywhere.
—The Ken Lolla appreciation tweets have been rolling in for the last 24 hours.
To the man that believed in me from the very beginning and never stopped pushing me to become better. Thank you for changing my life and being more than just a coach. I learned so much from you and will never forget all that you’ve done for @UofLmenssoccer Wish you all the best pic.twitter.com/IPms1dTGCD— Tate Schmitt (@TateSchmitt) December 11, 2018
Thanks @KenLolla for all you have done for the University of Louisville and all of the lives you have impacted! I appreciate your leadership and all of the great book suggestions you have given me. Can't wait to see what God has planned for you next!— Eric Wood (@EWood70) December 11, 2018
Thank you @KenLolla for the success that we’ve enjoyed with @UofLmenssoccer under your leadership. We will keep building on that success in pursuit of more ACC titles and the ultimate goal of a NCAA crown. L’s Up— Vince Tyra (@vincetyra) December 12, 2018
I met Ken Lolla on his first day on campus after his press conference 13 years ago. We have been close friends ever since. I am a better coach, husband and father because of him. #L1C4 @KenLolla pic.twitter.com/fquoBGpz7t— Rex Ecarma (@Rx11) December 12, 2018
—Former U of L player and tight ends coach Richard Owens will coach the tight ends at Western Kentucky.
—The Los Angeles Rams have activated former Card Trevon Young from their practice roster.
—Xavier signee and University Heights standout KyKy Tandy had to get stitches after cutting his chin on the rim during this dunk over a 7’2 center.
When you bust your chin on the rim I’d say it’s @espn top 10...when it’s on a 7’2 defender it’s got be #1 @TandyDekeyvan @CoachLo270 @BleacherReport @tdixonKNE @coachadler @SportsCenter pic.twitter.com/1NuDpfeDp9— Dedra Kay Adler (@DedraAdler) December 12, 2018
—Single game tickets for a number of men’s basketball games home games, including Kentucky, are now available.
—Speaking of Kentucky, UK announced Wednesday that Quade Green is transferring. It’ll be interesting to see if he can have the same type of impact somewhere else (Washington and Syracuse seem to be the front-runners) that a guy like Charles Matthews has had at Michigan.
—We need more bizarre Christmas specials.
The He-Man Christmas Special was a real thing that happened in the 80s. As you can see here... it’s pic.twitter.com/MRhcV67k6t— Joe Sonka (@joesonka) December 12, 2018
—Franklin-Simpson head football coach Doug Preston — whose Twitter profile indicates that he’s a fairly large Kentucky fan — ripped into new U of L head coach Scott Satterfield on Tuesday. Franklin-Simpson’s Jack Randolph had his scholarship offer pulled by the new staff earlier this week.
—Very cool move by the Bengals’ Geno Atkins and his wife, Kristen, who surprised 50 families in the Cincinnati area for Christmas by paying house and medical bills, adoption funds, tuition assistance and shopping sprees.
—Sunday was a tremendous environment.
—Villanova’s enigmatic start to 2018-19 continued last night as the Wildcats saw their record 25-game win streak in the “Big 5” come to an end via a 78-75 loss to Penn.
—Five-star freshman point guard Jahvon Quinerly, who decommitted from Arizona and signed with Villanova following the FBI mess, appears to be frustrated with his lack of playing time.
lmao Jahvon Quinerly wants out pic.twitter.com/fAcKAS8d3a— ryan bowman (@itsryanbowman) December 12, 2018
Quinerly saw the floor for just one minute in the loss to Penn.
—Former U of L great Kelsi Dahlia took down her own 200m fly record from 2014 by over a second on Tuesday.
—The U of L Foundation has received a credit outlook upgrade.
—Cardinal soccer standout Tate Schmitt has been named a First Team Scholar All-American.
—An 8-team playoff could be coming to college football as soon as 2020 (Athletic link). That’s if the sport uses some semblance of common sense, which is a major if.
Using Neinas’ preferred template, players on teams that reach the national championship would still play the same number of games in a season that they do now, and the season would end at the same time, on a Monday night about a week into January. There are other proposals and tweaks that could be worth discussing, too, multiple sources said; this is a relatively simple format that can serve as a jumping-off point.
“I do notice, though, that playoffs, generally, in other sports, in the professional sports, are determined on the field, and this is different than that,” Ohio State president Michael Drake told The Athletic.
As one Power 5 athletic director put it, an eight-team Playoff format is not rocket science. It makes sense for many parties. “This sport doesn’t do logical well,” he said.
—The Louisville Cardinal relives the U of L women’s team’s win over Kentucky.
—Lonne Galloway is joining Mack Brown’s staff at North Carolina.
—For the hard to shop for Chronicloid on your list:
—Eric Crawford writes about Ken Lolla and his calling to “do something different.”
—Louisville is No. 8 in Streaking the Lawn’s ACC power rankings.
—247 Sports has the Cards at No. 10, which I would argue is probably two spots too low and without question at least one spot too low. There’s no way to justify having Boston College ahead of Louisville right now.
—If you’re heading to the Yum Center tonight and are able to bring a toy, the annual “Kyle’s Korner for Kids” toy collection is going to be this evening.
✔️ Toy Drive for the Family Scholar House at last Sunday’s @UofLWBB— Louisville Athletics (@GoCards) December 11, 2018
Toy Drive for Kyle’s Korner for Kids at this Wednesday’s @LouisvilleMBB
Join our student-athletes in supporting a great cause and bring a to the game!#CardsCARE pic.twitter.com/PofWGO0Yqs
—Former Louisville quarterback Justin Burke will call South Florida’s plays in the Gasparilla Bowl.
—The Bowling Green Daily News says that beating Louisville looks like a much different task for Kentucky than it did a month ago. Reminder, the Cats play North Carolina in 10 days, and the U of L game isn’t for 17 days.
This state is insane.
—This viral video ...
USF player ends up the baseline seats and grabs some popcorn, announcer goes nuts pic.twitter.com/YA6s7yfBE4— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 6, 2018
... has resulted in San Francisco offering free popcorn to everyone who attends its game Sunday night. The player eating the popcorn in the video is Frankie Ferrari, who has to have the coolest name in all of college basketball.
—Rick Bozich writes that all parties involved were winners in the Louisville-Indiana series, and that it needs to be renewed.
—Louisville signee David Johnson tallied 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in Trinity’s win over Bardstown Tuesday night.
—And finally, beat Lipscomb.