—The fourth-ranked U of L women’s team has to take care of Clemson Wednesday night before it can turn its attention to Monday night’s showdown with top-ranked Connecticut. Here’s a preview of tonight’s game.
—CBS’ Jerry Palm offers hope for three bubble teams, including Louisville.
Record: 16-8 Overall | 6-5 ACC (8th)
Strength of Schedule: 22
The Cardinals are newcomers to the bubble after a rough stretch that has seen them lose four of their last five games, including the last two at home to Florida State and Syracuse. The biggest problem with their tournament resume is a lack of quality wins. Fortunately for them, they are in the ACC and their last five games will give them ample opportunity to fix that problem. If Louisville can win four of its last seven, which includes home games with North Carolina and potential top seed Virginia, the Cards should feel pretty good entering the ACC Tournament.
Look, it seems like we’re going to be going through this for the next few weeks so I’m just going to go ahead and put it out there: Anyone who uses the phrase “historically weak bubble” on here is gonna get hit with an automatic ban.
—Since it’s National Signing Day, Jason Kirk has a beautiful breakdown of the 16 people you’re sure to see in the mentions of any football recruit. Don’t tweet at recruits.
—Lamar gets some hometown love.
I would like to thank the District 7 of Palm Beach County Commissioners for recognizing me of this day February 6th 2018 ‼️ pic.twitter.com/RGnYvWtdSt— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) February 6, 2018
—RPI update: Louisville’s loss to Syracuse dropped the Cardinals a whopping 16 spots down all the way to No. 42. That’s an issue.
—Adidas terminated its contract with Terry Rozier because he wore Nikes during a shootaround last summer.
Adidas’s treatment of Rose is especially perplexing given how closely the company has held other players to the letter of their contracts. On Jan. 18, 2016, Celtics guard Terry Rozier signed a deal that, according to documents provided to SI, guaranteed him $300,000 over three seasons.
During the 2017 Eastern Conference finals, Rozier wore Nikes during a pregame shootaround. He changed into Adidas shoes for the game, but his public appearance in a rival brand did not escape notice. In a letter delivered by FedEx last May 26, Adidas’s legal counsel Monique Hawthorne notified Rozier, “Adidas is terminating your Agreement effective immediately.” (According to Rozier’s representatives, they plan to arbitrate Adidas’s decision.)
This looks like a dumb move now.
This is also the controversy that was reportedly at the center of the text messages between Rick Pitino and Jim Gatto that Pitino’s attorney made public last fall.
—I wrote about how Washington lost the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, fired a beloved coach, and somehow got way, way better this season.
—Matt Norlander of CBS looks at 19 major conference coaches who have work to do in order to have their same job this time next season. Although his situation is vastly different than the other 18 coaches, David Padgett is on the list.
Interim coach: David Padgett
Obviously not a firing situation here; just a potential opening. And what a huge opening it would be. This is a domino-inducing job situation. Louisville’s leadership infrastructure is going through wholesale changes, so it’s extremely hard to gauge how good of a chance Padgett has at being promoted from interim coach to full-time. The Cardinals are 16-8; the forecast is murky. Conventional thought has been that Padgett would need to get a solid seed and make the second weekend of the NCAAs in order to lock up the gig. Right now, Louisville’s slipping fast in the NCAA field. Bottom line, if Padgett’s for sure going to be the guy, Louisville’s going to need to wrangle a four-game winning streak between now and the ACC tournament in order to position itself at a second-weekend tourney run. Short of that, a new head coach would bring a lot of big names and then put speed under the carousel.
—U of L baseball is ranked No. 14 in the preseason poll from the National College Baseball Writers Association.
—The Cards will host three scrimmages at Jim Patterson Stadium this weekend that are all free and open to the public.
—Some relevant football news.
—Tai Wynyard has been suspended from all Kentucky basketball activities because apparently he had an armed friend going around with him to sorority and fraternity parties to “protect him.” Very odd story here.
—By the way the Wildcats lost last night in front of a home crowd that may have been even worse than ours was Monday night. I think Tennessee might be good.
—Jeff Greer looks at the situation U of L finds itself in after losing three straight and four of its last five.
The rest of the room was empty, and the typically buoyant back room, where celebrating players can often be heard laughing, shouting and singing, was silent.
”They’re down,” Padgett said. “They’re as frustrated as I am, just because we haven’t been playing well. We were playing well a couple of weeks ago, and all the sudden we hit a rut.”
Before this recent skid, Louisville’s coaches and players cited the team’s 29-point rout at the hands of archrival Kentucky as a key point in the campaign. That loss wasn’t just a loss — it was an embarrassment for everyone in Louisville’s program. The players questioned their concentration and fight, and the coaching staff was jolted into a sense of urgency.
Louisville wasn’t necessarily desperate after the Kentucky loss, but it was getting there.
After Monday’s loss, it feels like the Cardinals arrived at a very similar spot.
”It’s about the same, yeah,” McMahon said. “We’ve lost four of the last five, all games that we feel like we had a very good chance to win, some against better teams and some against teams that we feel like we should’ve taken care of. Nonetheless, a loss is a loss. We’ve got our backs against the wall; we’ve got to see how we respond.”
—A radio show host predicting the exact time and player who would strip Tom Brady and lock up a Super Bowl win for the Eagles is downright eerie.
—Ranking all 50 states by their blue chip football talent. Kentucky has three such players.
—Draft Wire profiles Jaire Alexander.
—Myisha Hines-Allen wants another packed house tonight.
—Never Nervous shares the 10 best things about Louisville native and professional wrestlign legend Jim Cornette.
—Pat Forde’s Forde Yard Dash looks what’s missing in college basketball this season.
No Rick Pitino (3). When Louisville abruptly (and quite justifiably) fired the giant energy source that was Pitino last fall, it left a vacuum at a power program that hasn’t been filled. Without the lightning-rod figure on the sideline, the Cardinals (16-8 and unranked) aren’t quite as good and aren’t quite as interesting. That’s no fault of 32-year-old interim coach David Padgett, who is doing the best he can in a thankless position, but in a sport where coaches are huge figures, Louisville’s stature has shrunk.
No blue-blood domination (5). There are eight programs that have won three or more national titles: UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Connecticut and Louisville. Only one of them (Duke) is in the current Ken Pomeroy top 10 — and the Blue Devils are coming off a loss to the worst team in the Big East, St. John’s. As for the rest: UCLA (16-7) is a bubble team; Kentucky (17-6) is arguably at its lowest ebb since the 2013 NIT team; North Carolina (17-7) is 1-4 on the road in the ACC, and that one win was by a point over injury-depleted Notre Dame; Indiana (13-12) has been blown out by Indiana State and Fort Wayne, among other indignities; Kansas (18-5) has stunningly lost three times in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, where it had lost just once in the previous three seasons; Connecticut (11-12) is tied for ninth in the American Athletic Conference and may need to fire the coach who won the 2014 national title, Kevin Ollie; and Louisville, as previously mentioned, is just kind of sitting there on the fringe of relevance. Important to note: There’s nothing wrong with new blood at the top. Unless you’re a CBS exec worried about selling the NCAA tournament to casual fans.
—U of L pitcher Sam Bordner is a preseason All-American.
—Athlon re-ranks the football recruiting class of 2015 and has Lamar Jackson at No. 1.
—This is pretty awesome.
—USA Today has nominated 20 attractions as their “Favorite Sports-centric Attractions” in the U.S. The only city with multiple nominees? Louisville, which actually has three. You can vote for your favorites here.
—And finally, John and I are at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to talk to the football staff and celebrate National Signing Day. Listen here.