—Spread check (Music City Bowl): Mississippi State by 4.
—Louisville baseball’s Reid Detmers, Alex Binelas and Michael Kirian have been named preseason All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
—This is easily the best one of these yet.
—U of L men’s soccer standout Cherif Dieye has been named to the United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-South Region Second Team.
—The Athletic’s first “Bracket Watch” of the 2019-20 season has Louisville as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region.
—Michael Vick’s rushing mark isn’t the only record Lamar Jackson can shatter this season
—Speaking of Lamar, he won the Pro Bowl Fan Vote by a very wide margin.
I think that means he should get to take the trip for free but not have to play in the actual game.
—Jon Rothstein’s texts are even weirder than his tweets.
—Jody Demling has a Q&A with star U of L women’s basketball signee Hailey Van Lith.
—Louisville checks in at No. 4 in this week’s Three-Man-Weave power rankings.
4. Louisville (3)
To the Cardinals, I give consistent point guard play. Unfortunately, it’s not at all clear how that will come about, given that the Cards can’t seem to get even acceptable play from any of their options right now. The trio of Darius Perry, Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble, and David Johnson simply haven’t been producing in the way the team needs:
Offensive rating is by no means a be-all, end-all measurement, but it definitely captures how inefficient the group has been offensively for a sustained period of time.
A few weeks back in this space, I wrote about how well Perry was playing, but he has turned into the proverbial pumpkin since then — perhaps not coincidentally, right as the schedule stiffened. I was a vocal detractor of Kimble’s in the offseason; even when healthy at St. Joseph’s, which was rare, he wasn’t really that great, and he has struggled to integrate into Chris Mack’s system.
The true upside lies with Mr. Johnson, who is just getting into the swing of things following an injury to start the year. The 6’5, 210-pound combo guard oozes upside, especially on the defensive end, and if he can seize the primary creator role as the year wears on, that probably constitutes the highest-ceiling scenario for the Cardinals.
—Eric Crawford recaps his most memorable moments of the last decade of sports in the city of Louisville.
—Congratulations to the Louisville Chargers, a local youth football team that last weekend captured a national championship in the 10U division.
—I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a coach talk about an active player the way Jim Boeheim talked about Georgetown transfer James Akinjo after Syracuse’s loss to the undermanned Hoyas over the weekend.
“They got rid of a guy that wouldn’t pass the ball to anybody and just shot it every time, and that’s why they’re good now,” Boeheim said about the rush of recent transfers, apparently throwing shade at transferring lead guard James Akinjo. “Patrick [Ewing] can’t say that but I can. He lost two games for them by himself.”
Akinjo was Georgetown’s second-leading scorer and leading assist man at the time he left the team to transfer to another school, averaging 13.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. Since he and a trio of Hoyas announced they will transfer or leave the team, they’ve gone on a 3-0 run that has included road wins over Oklahoma Stateand SMU, and is now punctuated by a convincing win over Syracuse.
It’s hard to agree with Boeheim’s reasoning, given Akinjo’s talents and abilities. Still, the results are hard to argue with. And Boeheim, as backhanded a compliment as it was, is right about one thing.
”They’ve got a really good point guard [Mac McClung], he’s getting people the ball, and he’s settled into his position where he gets his shots and makes them,” Boeheim said. “They have good inside guys, they have good shooters, I think they have a really good team. I think, by far, this is the best team we’ve seen from Georgetown the last few years.”
The man is pushing the “I’m old and I’m just going to say whatever the hell I want to” thing about as far as it can go.
—What if USC had made Ed Orgeron its permanent head coach back in 2013?
—Jordan Watkins (Butler) and Josh Minkins (Ballard) will be signing with Louisville together on Wednesday.
After consideration we thought it was best for us to sign our NLI to the University of Louisville together. It will still be the same place and time as before, everyone is still welcomed! Come out and support us, it would be appreciated. @jordantwatkins pic.twitter.com/3DdgHUR2bQ— Josh Minkins Jr (@JoshMinkins) December 16, 2019
—Louisville still sits atop ACCSports.com’s weekly hoops power rankings.
—College basketball is wide open and poised to stay that way for the next three months.
—Quentin Snider is faring just fine abroad.
—Dana Evans has been named the College Sports Madness ACC Player of the Week.
—The Forecastle Festival has signed a deal to remain in Louisville through 2025.
—Deep, dark mid-December secret: The ACC has had a pretty bad showing in non-conference play.
Duke, Louisville, Virginia, Florida State, NC State, and Virginia Tech have a combined record of 43-10.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 17, 2019
The other nine ACC teams?
Will be very interesting see how many bids this conference gets in the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
13 of last season's Top 20 scorers are gone.
—The CJ serves up a scouting report for Louisville’s Wednesday game against Miami (OH).
—Big Red Louie says Mekhi Becton made the right decision to skip the Music City Bowl.
—Congrats to the Super Bowl MVP on his latest life achievement. Deion is the best.
This will always be bigger than the Super Bowl rings and the MVP trophy. Thank you to everyone that has ever supported me during this journey. God is good! #Degree #College #Education #Louisville #Cardsnation pic.twitter.com/Zjv8bfqwyo— Deion Branch #83 #84 (@deionbranch84) December 14, 2019
—Florida State RB Cam Akers will be turning pro and skipping FSU’s bowl game.
—Mississippi State star RB Kylin Hill is also turning pro, but will be playing against Louisville in the Music City Bowl.
Montrezl Harrell is the first Clipper in franchise history to have 30-plus points and 3-plus blocks off the bench.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) December 15, 2019
—Cameron Teague of the CJ writes about Mekhi Becton’s decision to leave Louisville for the NFL.
—The Utah hoops staff hasn’t had much of a problem calling out Kentucky this week for not playing true road games.
Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said last week they kicked the tires on trying to get Kentucky to the Huntsman Center this season, but he knew better. If Utah wanted to play Kentucky on this side of the country, it was going to have to be a higher-profile situation than Salt Lake City.
“In regards to Kentucky, they’re not going to play you in the Huntsman Center,” Krystkowiak said. “They don’t play anybody other than Kansas or Duke in one of those things. They don’t put themselves at a high risk to lose a road game. That’s an opportunity. A few years back (in 2015), we played Duke at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s a good test. Vegas, we’re certainly going to have plenty of Kentucky fans. I’m not sure we’re going to know it’s a neutral-site game, but that’s what we sign up for. We’ve talked about that. As a coaching staff and players, you want an opportunity. I know you can’t beat Kentucky on a neutral-site court if you don’t play them, and those are some things that have proven important to the NCAA Tournament selection committee, so we’ll see where we are.”
Utes assistant coach Andy Hill, who handles the non-conference schedule each season, echoed Krystkowiak’s take.
“First off, you’d like to try and get a home-and-home, but they don’t really do that,” Hill said. “Our fanbase wanted some bigger-name games, so the best we could do was get them as close as possible and that was Vegas. I feel like throughout the years, if you look at the Pac-12 Tournament and other stuff, we’ve been able to get a good fan showing in Vegas. That was as close as we could get them.”
—ACC hoops tonight:
North Florida at No. 19 Florida State (8:30 p.m./ACC Network)
Miami vs. Temple (9:30 p.m./ESPNU)
—The official Louisville fan party on the night before the Music City Bowl is going down at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are now available for purchase.
—And finally, on the eve of Early Signing Day, Louisville is one of the schools on “flip watch.”