clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Born on Aug. 28, Mollie Grace Lawhorn has been waiting her whole life for this CC debut.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

—Spread check: Louisville by 23.

—Western Kentucky’s defense is spending this week preparing for both Puma Pass and Malik Cunningham.

—A very happy 40th birthday to Christi Mack.

—ESPN’s three ACC football writers pick this weekend’s (and tonight’s) conference games. All three expect Louisville to take care of business against Western Kentucky.

—Louisville’s Mason King has been named the Ray Guy Punter of the Week. There’s a good and a bad there as far as the entire team’s concerned, but congrats to Mason. Keep killing it.

—Here’s a great read from Ricky O’Donnell on why the NCAA’s war on grassroots basketball is misguided.

“I think it’s wrong,” Lewis says. “There’s a wide range of players that went through grassroots that became great players. LeBron James played grassroots basketball. JR Smith played AAU basketball. Kobe even played so I don’t know what he’s talking about. I think it’s very beneficial.”

The AAU of today looks different than it did in Kobe’s day. Since the dawn of the decade, Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas have run leagues that feel professional in their approach. Nike’s EYBL featured four spring “sessions” all over the country this year leading up to Peach Jam in July, which is essentially the league playoffs. Adidas and Under Armour copied similar models, complete with advanced stats and scoutable video.

At its core, though, grassroots ball has always been about exposure.

David Roddy will never have the same profile as Lewis. As a three-star recruit from Minnesota playing on Nike’s EYBL circuit, Roddy has used grassroots ball to get the attention of college coaches. After a standout summer for club team Howard Pulley, he now holds offers from multiple Big Ten schools, including Nebraska, Northwestern and his hometown Golden Gophers.

“The EYBL has been the best thing for me,” Roddy says. “Definitely for recruiting. Every single coach is here. I see Coach K and Calipari and Coach Roy Williams basically every weekend. It’s definitely very beneficial for student-athletes.

Roddy describes the relationship between grassroots and high school ball as “the best of both worlds.” He can get exposure and measure up against the top players in the country on the EYBL. Then he can go back to his high school with a new list of things to practice.

Not everyone who plays grassroots ball is a future NBA player like Lewis. For those like Roddy, grassroots isn’t a source of corruption, it’s an opportunity to raise your profile and achieve your dream of getting a scholarship to play college basketball.

—DJ K-Dogg’s tailgate mix for Western Kentucky is here.

—A quick reminder that David Padgett is still the best.

If you can’t laugh at yourself ...

Someone hire that man.

—Sports Illustrated’s annual list of the 100 best players in the NBA is out.

Donovan Mitchell is No. 34.

His game has drawn endless comparisons to Dwyane Wade and his marketability is straight from the Damian Lillard playbook, but the recent star that Mitchell (20.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.7 APG) most embodied down the stretch was a young Derrick Rose. The unadulterated calm and confidence. The willingness to sacrifice life and limb to get to the rim. The savior scoring role on a roster built for defense. The ability to get veteran teammates to buy in—fully and eagerly—to everything he was selling. The measured responses to stunning triumphs. The euphoric embrace from his home crowd.

Such lofty comparisons are appropriate for Mitchell, who became just the third rookie guard to average 20+ PPG since 1990. The 22-year-old guard kept raising the bar as he led Utah past Oklahoma City in the first round: 28 points in Game 2 to steal homecourt advantage, 33 points in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead, and then 38 points in Game 6 to send Russell Westbrook packing. While the Rockets were able to dissect the Jazz in round two, Mitchell’s postseason debut made it clear that he’s set up for major success. His next steps—improving as a three-point shooter, getting to the line more frequently, and growing as a facilitator—are refinements rather than quantum leaps. If Rose was Chicago’s first superstar of the post-Jordan era, Mitchell might very well become Utah’s most beloved and decorated player since Stockton and Malone. — BG

Terry Rozier is No. 82.

Few players enhanced their reputations during the 2018 playoffs as much as Rozier (11.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.9 APG), who stepped in for the injured Kyrie Irving and guided the Celtics to within one game of the Finals. There were two keys driving the 24-year-old guard’s postseason success. First, a supreme self-confidence. Despite never starting in his first two seasons and being known primarily as a defensive pest, Rozier sent Milwaukee packing from the first round, nailed seven threes in Game 1 against Philadelphia to set the tone in the conference semis, and held tough when LeBron James cranked it up in the East finals. Rather than freeze on the big stage, he tormented Eric Bledsoe, carried himself like a star on the postgame podium, and donned “Scary Terry” t-shirts bearing his own likeness on off days. This was a textbook case of being ready—physically and psychologically—when called upon.

The second element of Rozier’s success was easy to miss amid the swagger and hoopla: He played with exceptional control, posting a 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the postseason. While Rozier suffered bouts of streakiness and famously ran cold in Game 7 against the Cavaliers, his careful stewardship throughout the playoffs was crucial to Boston’s efforts to muster enough scoring and to prevail in close games. Going forward, Rozier is an obvious trade chip: He’s equipped to become a full-time starter because he’s trustworthy with the ball, he’s improved his three-point shot, he’s tenacious on defense, and he’s gotten a good taste of the limelight. — BG

—SI also has a feature highlighting the 10 biggest college basketball upsets of the last decade. UMBC over Virginia is the obvious No. 1, but I was surprised to see the Louisville women’s team’s toppling of Baylor not crack the list.

—This is crazy.

I miss Adam.

—In today’s piece of Michigan State news that makes you want to give up all hope, a new lawsuit alleges that MSU officials were made aware of a videotaped rape of an underage girl by Dr. Larry Nassar but covered it up, told a coach who reported it to resign, and stripped the victim of a scholarship.

—Jeff Goodman ranks the NIT Season Tip-Off — featuring Louisville, Kansas, Tennessee and Marquette — as the third best event in college basketball for 2018-19. The Maui Invitational is No. 1, followed by the Champions Classic.

—Loving the video work this year.

—Brian Bowen is making “all the right adjustments” ahead of his first season as a pro in Australia’s NBL.

—Louisville RB commit Aidan Robbins has been instrumental in helping Manual get off to a 2-1 start despite the Crimsons losing their quarterback right before the beginning of the season.

—Deng Adel is on the move to Toronto, where it looks like the Raptors have offered him a partially guaranteed contract.

Congrats to him.

These stories about Burt Reynolds’ time as a football player at Florida State are terrific.

—From the Rumble Seat (Georgia Tech) has Louisville at No. 10 in its ACC power rankings.

—Malik Cunningham is one of your U of L student athletes of the week.

—Despite having two commits spurn college after being taken in the top 32 picks of MLB draft, Louisville baseball still wound up with the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class. That’s the highest-rated class in program history.

—I talked Louisville-WKU, Pitino vs. Papa, and where the second Petrino era turned in this podcast with Billy Rutledge.

—Some short video of Donovan Mitchell and Trey Lewis putting in work at the little Yum last weekend.

—Major shoutout to Dae Williams, who is being nationally recognized for his community service.

—Louisville is holding a “redout” for tomorrow night’s volleyball match against Kentucky.

—NewsOK says Louisville is on “upset alert” and is “not very good,” but then picks the Cards to beat Western Kentucky.

—And finally, we’re back at the Sports & Social Club from 3-6, getting you ready for The Bobby Petrino Coaches Show at 6. You can listen to both here.