—NET Rankings update: No. 17 (down one spot)
—Louisville is a 4-seed in the latest ESPN Bracketology from Joe Lunardi.
—Highlights from the Cards’ road stomping of Miami last night:
—NFL defenses have tried everything to stop Lamar Jackson this season, and pretty much none of it has worked. Even when a defense has called the perfect play, Lamar has proven he can beat it anyway.
—Louisville assistant Mike Pegues and Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey have a longtime bromance.
—The latest NBA mock draft from SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell has Jordan Nwora going with the final pick of the first round.
30. Boston Celtics - Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
Nwora has become one of the very best players in college basketball as a junior at Louisville. A 6’7, 225-pound wing, Nwora has hit 43.7 percent of his first 87 attempts from deep. Teams will wonder if he can hold up on the defensive end, but his combination of size, shooting ability, and productivity at the college level should make him a first-rounder.
—Six of college basketball’s most well-known streaks are in danger of coming to an end this season.
—The latest installment of Bracket Watch from The Athletic has Louisville as a five-seed taking on ETSU, my favorite mid/low major squad this season.
—After spending last year in Canada, Kevin Ware has inked a new deal with a professional team in Finland.
—Hoops Insights looks into the January switch that Chris Mack has made with Louisville’s backcourt, and how it’s worked out so far.
What Is Happening? One factor that is helping the Perry/Kimble pairing improve their results is that they are getting more time with UofL’s best players. Prior to January, that duo had played with Jordan Nwora in 71 of their 97 possessions. In January, they have played all 36 possessions alongside him. Nwora’s direct replacement is usually freshman Samuel Williamson, who offers less in terms of rebounding, defense, and outside shooting. Nwora has hit 6 of 7 three pointers in the last two games when playing alongside this duo, which is helping to inflate their 3 point percentage and overall results. That’s not likely to sustain, however, so lineups with Perry & Kimble will need to show an ability to force turnovers like they had earlier in the season if they are going to keep outscoring opponents. Lineups pairing Perry & Kimble have done exceptionally well in the last 2 games when they force opponents deep into the shot clock; FSU and Miami were a combined 0-11 on shots taken more than 20 seconds into the shot clock. Watching the film, it’s clear that they were effective in forcing opponents to create shots off of isolation late and didn’t allow many catch-and-shoot chances. That being said, they’re not going to continue holding opponents without a basket on long possessions. For the season they’ve been very good on defense in these situations, forcing a 39% eFG%, but they’re not quite as good as they have been recently.
Similarly, the Kimble/McMahon duo has gotten unlucky in the past couple games. First, opponents have shot very well in transition against them (4-5 overall, 2-2 on 2’s and 2-3 on 3’s). Prior to this run, however, opponents were putitng up an eFg% of only 28% in transition against them. The recent hot streak by opponents is not due to any clear defensive lapses, but rather opponents have hit some contested shots that normally they would miss. That’s likely to reverse somewhat. The Kimble/McMahon pairing has also been cold from 3 point range in the last 2 games, with McMahon going 0-3 with Kimble beside him. That’s not likely to continue, since McMahon was shooting 43% from 3 (12 for 28) when paired with Kimble earlier in the season.
What is more of a concern is how UofL has struggled recently in David Johnson’s minutes. Specifically, UofL’s defense has been quite poor; they’ve allowed opponents to shoot threes frequently and well. Watching the film, there are 2 things at play. First, David Johnson isn’t quite yet comfortable with UofL’s defensive system. There are numerous times where he and his teammates have to communicate openly about assignments and switches. Johnson also does not yet have great instincts about how to help but still recover to shooters. These mistakes frequently yield open three point shots. The second factor is that Johnson played a lot against Florida State, and UofL struggled as a team in that game. Johnson’s issues on defense are highlighted when playing against teams who have the athleticism to create off the dribble and draw help; in fact, UofL continually gave up good three point looks the the Seminoles when forced to help against a driver. Johnson’s not the only Cardinal who struggled in that game, but he didn’t help the issue. Florida State also had the length to get off shots even when UofL was trying to contest shots. So, while David Johnson isn’t at the level of UofL’s other guards yet defensively, his recent performance is made to look worse because Florida State was a tough matchup for UofL. UofL was a horrific -25 in his 32 possessions played in that game, but a more reasonable +3 in his 20 possessions against Miami.
The whole thing is worth a read if you have the time.
—The U of L swim and dive teams swept No. 25 Northwestern on Thursday.
—Jeff Greer (remember that douche?) is back to writing about sports sometimes. His latest for The Athletic focuses on Amar Sylla, an NBA prospect who was discovered at Gorgui Dieng’s camp in Senegal.
—90-10 seems decent.
Well, that's a fairly impressive stat - the Louisville women's basketball team is 90-10 in its last 100 games. https://t.co/pnUIXgTwxm— Jody Demling (@jdemling) January 10, 2020
—Louisville has offered a scholarship to class of 2021 offensive lineman Kenneth Bannister out of New Orleans.
—Cardinal fans in South Florida, there will be a game watch for Saturday afternoon’s tussle with Notre Dame at Stout Irish Bar and Grille in Fort Lauderdale.
—Charlotte Wilder of Sports Illustrated spent the fall going to some of college football’s most storied venues to try and figure out why the sport’s attendance is down across the country.
—Five weeks from today, the preseason No. 1 Louisville baseball team will begin its 2020 campaign.
—In what has the potential to be big news for next year’s Louisville basketball team, point guard recruit Zion Harmon is reportedly mulling over a reclassification from the 2021 class to the 2020 one. Harmon, who plays for Marshall County, visited Louisville, Maryland and Western Kentucky back in November, is visiting Seton Hall this weekend, and has another visit to Kansas scheduled for later this month.
—The LSU video department may have had itself an even better season than the actual team.
A Swag You Have Never Seen— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) January 9, 2020
This Is Our Time. pic.twitter.com/NuPaWdVM16
—Former U of L assistant Joe Whitt has been added to the Falcons coaching staff.
—Saturday afternoon’s game in South Bend marks the start of Louisville’s first extended road trip of the 2019-20 season.
—Russ Brown writes that Chris Mack is facing a serious dilemma when it comes to how to best utilize his freshmen.
The latest example came in U of L’s 74-58 win over Miami (Fla.) Tuesday night when, with Williamson and Johnson on the floor, the Cards’ lead dwindled from 20 points to 11.
“Sucks, doesn’t it?” Mack said on his post-game radio show.
And that’s not the only time the newcomers have disappointed their coach. In the season opener against Miami, four freshmen plus Perry were outscored 14-0 in the final three minutes of an 87-74 victory. Against Kentucky, Williamson somehow managed to commit three fouls in two minutes.
Williams and Johnson played a combined 21 minutes Tuesday, with six points, one rebound, four fouls and two turnovers apiece.
Mack is hoping for a better performance when No. 13 U of L (11-3, 3-1) tips off its three-game road swing at Notre Dame (10-5, 1-3) at Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.
“They have to be better and they are better than that,” Mack said. “They’re out here in ACC play for the first time and they have to take that experience and when we go to Notre Dame, instead of two turnovers out of them, each one. If they just sit on the bench they’re not gonna get a whole lot better. They’ve got to learn, when they get to practice that’s the thing coach is talking about — being stronger with the ball, coming to a jump stop, not being so antsy early in the shot clock. Defensively, not getting rejected on a ball screen. All the little things. Our older guys aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot more experienced and a lot more veteran savvy.”
—Streaking the Lawn has Louisville at No. 3 in its latest ACC power rankings.
—And finally, beat Notre Dame.