clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Monday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

New, 48 comments

CC Winter Tour rolls back to the Taj Mahal with Justin Reynolds.

—It appears the Louisville football team has not received an invitation to a bowl game. The full bowl lineup for 2018-19 can be found here.

—The U of L volleyball team wrapped up a successful 2018 season over the weekend with an NCAA tournament win over Dayton followed by a 4-set loss to national seed Illinois.

—Louisville gets some serious love in Seth Davis’ latest Hoop Thoughts column for The Athletic. There are also some great quotes from Chris Mack.

Louisville’s happy, scrappy week

I sent Louisville coach Chris Mack a text on Sunday asking if we could speak for a few minutes about his team. He replied that we could, and then he added: “Thanks for your prediction and quote yesterday. Used it with my team before the game.”

He was referring to my Saturday Specials column, which predicted that Seton Hall would cover a 3½-point spread because Mack’s Cardinals would be “emotionally spent after that crazy, gutsy overtime win over Michigan State.” The Cardinals proved me wrong by winning, 70-65. When we connected on the phone later, Mack told me he wrote those words on the whiteboard in his team’s locker room so he could address them before tipoff. “I’m often talking to our guys about, whose expectations are we playing for?” Mack said. “We didn’t let the disappointment of losing two games in New York upset our preparation for Michigan State. It would be a shame if we did a 180 and let the result of Michigan State ruin our preparation for Seton Hall.”

Besides my obvious first reaction – Thanks for subscribing! – my other takeaway is how that gesture spoke to the culture Mack is trying to build in his first season at Louisville. When he took the job last spring, this browbeaten program was down to seven scholarship players. It was too late for Mack to bring in elite high school seniors or uber-talented transfers, so he had to put extra emphasis on finding players with character and toughness, which were staples of his program at Xavier. The three graduate transfers he brought in fit that mold, but after those losses at the NIT Season Tip-off over Thanksgiving (to Tennessee by nine points, and to Marquette in OT), I had to wonder whether this team would soon get a crushing headache from crashing into a low talent ceiling.

That’s why last week was so important – not just the wins over Michigan State (in OT) and Seton Hall (on the road), but the way they happened. No program exemplifies toughness more than Tom Izzo’s Spartans, yet the Cardinals fought gamely in overtime even after blowing a lead they had owned for most of regulation. Four days later, they trailed Seton Hall by nine points with just under 14 minutes to play, but continued to chip away and took the lead for good with 3;39 to play. Just one Louisville player reached double figures in the win, but all 10 guys scored. Defensively, the Cardinals did a great job harassing Seton Hall’s high-scoring guard Myles Powell into a 2-of-12 performance from 3-point range.

When I asked Mack who his best player has been, he offered praise for leading scorer Jordan Nwora, a 6-8 sophomore forward from Buffalo, but his choice was the team’s sixth-leading scorer, 6-5 redshirt junior guard Dwayne Sutton, who transferred in two years ago from UNC Asheville. “He sort of embodies what this team has been all about,” Mack said. “Doesn’t really care if he gets any credit. He’s not elite in one area, other than playing hard. All he’s concerned about is winning.

Indeed, Mack explains that this Louisville team is “not elite in any one area, but I don’t think there’s any area that’s a glaring weakness, either.” That means the Cardinals can beat a lot of teams and also lose to a lot of teams. The difference from night to night will be in how hard they play, how smart they play, and how lucky they are. “I would like to think in time our execution will get better,” Mack said. “But the one thing we can figure out right now is how to play hard and how to play together.”

—Louisville’s win at Seton Hall helped the Cards rise from No. 70 to No. 38 in the updated NET Rankings. That’s one spot behind Villanova, and three spots behind Liberty.

—If you haven’t made it to a women’s basketball game this year, their new intro video is legit.

—Terry Rozier is now being sued over his use of the Scream mask on “Scary Terry” merchandise.

—Undefeated teams from non-power conferences have been getting hit with the same argument for 21 years now. The fact of the matter is, half the teams that play FBS college football begin every season with no chance to play for the sport’s biggest prize.

—Very cool moment here between Donovan Mitchell and Dwyane Wade.

—Yahoo ranks all the best bowl games from best to worst.

—Kyler Murray has pulled ahead of Tua Tagavailoa in ESPN’s final Heisman Watch.

—To be fair, I think about doing this every time I lose a minor dispute.

—City officials in Louisville now see more opportunity with an MLS franchise than an NBA one.

—After being fired by the Bulls today, expect Fred Hoiberg to be the top candidate for every major college basketball opening this spring.

—CFP odds from Bovada:

Odds to win the 2019 College Football Championship

Alabama 4/9

Clemson 2/1

Notre Dame 14/1

Oklahoma 14/1

College Football Playoff Lines

Notre Dame +11.5

Clemson -11.5

Over/Under 55

Oklahoma +14

Alabama -14

Over/Under 79

—Gonzaga is still No. 1 and Furman is now No. 25 in the new AP top 25 poll.

—For whatever reason, a handful of national writers have come out today and voiced their support for Neal Brown in Louisville’s coaching search.

Brown, for those who don’t remember, took some pretty serious shots at Louisville when he was a UK assistant back in 2014, and also played a fairly major role in the pregame fight that took place at midfield that year. He grew up in Boyle County, and was was also a player at Kentucky.

Here’s the thing: If Brown were heads and shoulders above the other candidates and the U of L fan base was beyond convinced that he would prosper here, I think we’d be willing to put the past bullshit aside. Since he isn’t — he has a losing head-to-head record against Scott Satterfield — we won’t. Nor should we.

I think Brown might very well end up as a successful coach of a power five program some day. I can also understand why a significant chunk of Louisville’s fan base — and apparently board of trustees — doesn’t want him here. The reaction would be rough, and so would the nine months that would follow.

—Shoutout to Ava on working all the Ls in during one trip.

—Samuell Williamson is putting up outrageous numbers in his final season before coming to U of L, and he just keeps getting better.

—Cian knows quarterbacking in the NFL as well as anyone, so this is high praise.

—The Piesman Trophy nominees are here.

—Three-star tight end Sam Snider has decommitted from Louisville. The Cards currently have just one scholarship tight end set to return for next season — redshirt junior Jordan Davis — and he was suspended for the Kentucky game.

—The Cards did receive a commitment from St. X linebacker Patrick Owen.

—Montrezl Harrell’s shoe game remains unrivaled.

—Forbes writes about Bill Murray being a Louisville basketball fan now.

—The Setonian breaks down the lessons Seton Hall learned from a “cruel” loss to Louisville.

—Your damn right he has.

—Major shoutouts to Central, Christian Academy and Male for winning state titles and also making Louisville the first city in the history of Kentucky high school football to produce three state champions in one season.

—Teddy Bridgewater wishing Stefan LeFors and CAL luck was pretty great.

—These videos remain the best.

Having my voice and Bill Raftery’s in the same highlight video is so wrong, but personally, it’s awesome.

—And finally, we’re back on the air from 3-6 today, once again providing updates from the coaching search and recapping a big basketball win. You can listen here.