—Spread check: Louisville by 13.5.
—Despite the last two weeks, ESPN’s Kyle Soppe that Louisville still fits the profile of a Final Four team.
—Miami knows it needs to step up its defensive effort if it’s going to have a better result in its second shot at Louisville.
“We’ve got to lock in defensively,” junior forward Sam Waardenburg said. “I think in the past we’ve made a few mistakes and we haven’t really fixed them. That’s something we really have to focus on in fixing those little mistakes out there on the floor and rebound the ball. We’ve got to rebound the hell out of the ball because (against Duke) we got out-rebounded by 17, which is crazy.”
Miami (9-4, 1-2 ACC) is coming off a 95-62 loss to No. 2 Duke, suffering their most lopsided home loss in Larranaga’s nine seasons at Miami.
“They ran through us like a hot knife through butter,” head coach Jim Larranaga said. “They played really, really well. I was very, very impressed with them from start to finish.”
It was the third loss of 20 points or more this season after entering the year with only four such losses in the previous four years combined.
“Whatever mistakes there were, we’ve just got to get past it and onto the next game,” junior center Rodney Miller said. “We’ve got a big game against Louisville coming up and we played them to open the season up so we have an idea of what they do. It’s tough playing on the road. It’s always hard to get a road win. We’ve just got to regroup and be ready for Louisville.”
—In addition to a better defensive effort, Miami needs a monster performance from its talented backcourt to have a shot at knocking off Louisville.
—It appears the Cards will be back in their traditional home white uniforms tonight, which they’re 7-0 in this season.
—Louisville has fallen out of the Three-Man-Weave power rankings.
—The top 15 U of L men’s and women’s diving teams are back in action this week against nationally ranked Northwestern.
—Happy birthday to our son.
Lamar Jackson turns 23 today.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 7, 2020
His resume so far is the stuff of legend.
▫️2x ACC POTY
▫️QB season rushing record
▫️Youngest QB with perfect passer rating
▫️Youngest QB with playoff start
▫️Likely youngest MVP since Jim Brown pic.twitter.com/bZOUpLV8f2
—Louisville is a 5-seed in the first Bracketology from SB Nation’s Chris Dobbertean.
—A former AAU coach secretly recorded calls with numerous Nike execs. Will a federal judge allow the potentially explosive conversations unsealed? We should find out soon.
Will this be the straw that breaks Nike’s back in this whole deal? No ... no it won’t be.
—The Ringer looks at how Lamar Jackson became the center of the NFL universe.
Jackson’s brilliance can pop up at any moment, and his teammates have a pretty important job to do on each play blocking for him. They typically don’t get a chance to see his most famous plays; instead they have to exchange stories on the sidelines about what exactly happened on the field.
“As soon as he gets out of the pocket, he’s probably going to make the first guy miss so I have to go get the second guy. Sometimes I get to see it but usually I’m trying to throw an extra block,” wide receiver Willie Snead said. “The one in Cincinnati, I didn’t even know he hit the guy with the spin move. I get to the sideline and everyone is talking about it and I find out he hit buddy with the spin move. Dang. Bro is elite,” Snead said. The most impressive play Snead saw live was Jackson’s juke against San Francisco. “He dead-legged him,” Snead said. “I’m thinking, ‘Dude, I’m having flashbacks to high school.’”
The first time his teammates see the full extent of the damage Jackson inflicted on the defense is after the game on social media or, at the latest, in team meetings. “The Bengals, I kind of saw it,” Andrews said, referring to Jackson’s 47-yard TD run Week 10. “But it wasn’t until I saw it on Twitter right after the game that I was like, ‘Man, he really did that.’” He’s just insane.”
This delay leads to some raucous film sessions: “Guys get to wow over those plays in the meeting room,” guard Marshal Yanda said. Of course, it’s a good thing that Jackson’s teammates are otherwise engaged. Fullback Patrick Ricard raved about the wide receivers’ blocking ability, and Mark Ingram told me the tight ends are the “heroes” for finishing opponents downfield on blocks. “It’s 11 people—tight ends, receivers, Patrick Ricard, offensive line,” Ingram said. “You cannot break long runs without 11 people.”
Jackson’s ability to spring a big run on any play can surprise even his teammates. “On one of the Seattle runs, I was on their sideline, and he’d broken the pocket and I see him running full speed at me and it was kind of an ‘Oh, shit’ moment,” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “I turned around and I said, ‘I guess I better start blocking,’ so I blocked a guy, got him a little bit off-balance, and Lamar took off past me like 30 or 40 yards. He’s able to break the pocket and you have to keep your head on a swivel because it happens when you least expect it.”
Teammates have to use context clues to figure out what marvelous thing Jackson has done. “If I’m running to the right, and all of the sudden my guy just stops, I know he ran left,” Ricard said. “Sometimes you hear the crowd erupt, which probably means a broken tackle. In the Buffalo game, I didn’t know he juked out the linebacker, 58, until we got on the bus and you see it and said, ‘Wow, he did that?’ You have to gas him up. We all have a good time.”
—Matt Rhule is leaving Baylor to take over as the new head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
—Ballard product and former Louisville signee Jo Adell is on the cover of the latest issue of Baseball America.
—Duke freshman Wendell Moore Jr. is expected to miss “significant time” after breaking a bone in his hand. Moore is currently averaging 7.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
—The Warriors have completed a deal to keep Damion Lee on their 15-man roster.
—Traveon Samuel thanks both Louisville and Memphis State as he wraps up his college career.
—Tua Tagovailoa is headed to the NFL and could be the perfect QB to throw bombs to DeVante Parker in Miami.
—I can’t imagine the boulder that’s going to be on this young man’s shoulder when Louisville comes to Death Valley next fall.
—Chris Mack continues to look for resiliency from his team.
—A man from Lancaster, Ky called the cops on himself and showed said officers all of his drugs so that he could join his girlfriend in prison. It’s really the greatest love story of our time.
—Six months ago, Marshon Ford was a walk-on. What a year for the Ballard product.
Ford finished the year as the ACC leader in touchdown catches by a tight end.— Keith Wynne (@Keith_Wynne) January 6, 2020
He is also tied for 10th overall in the ACC in touchdown catches with 7. https://t.co/epLs5WI6fI
—The CJ previews Louisville-Miami.
—Jordan Nwora received a couple of votes, but it’s Dayton’s Obi Toppin who is The Athletic’s midseason POY.
Six players received at least one first-place vote, while 13 guys earned at least a top-three selection. Here are the results of our poll:
1. Obi Toppin, Dayton: 25 total points (7 first-place votes)
2. Vernon Carey, Duke: 21 points (2 first-place votes)
3. Payton Pritchard, Oregon: 19 points (3 first-place votes)
4. Cassius Winston, Michigan State: 10 points (3 first-place votes)
5. Markus Howard, Marquette: 9 points (1 first-place vote)
6. Myles Powell, Seton Hall: 3 points
7. Devon Dotson, Kansas: 4 points
8. Luka Garza, Iowa: 3 points (1 first-place vote)
9. Jordan Nwora, Louisville: 2 points
T-10. Tre Jones, Duke: 2 points
T-10. Isaiah Stewart, Washington: 2 points
T-12. Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State: 1 point
T-12. Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga: 1 point
Now let’s hear from some of our voters:
Brian Hamilton: This season of predictable unpredictability seems to demand a player of the year choice to match. So while it makes no sense to move away from the criteria I’d use in any other year — an exceptional player who is immensely valuable to a team that wins at a pretty high rate — Toppin is the guy that conforms while not conforming. A POY from … Dayton? Well, yeah, when he’s in or just outside the top 10 nationally in Win Shares and Player Efficiency Rating and Box Score Plus-Minus. Toppin was even good in the two games Dayton lost, and it’s hard to imagine the Flyers cracking the country’s consciousness this way without the singular talents of the 6-9 sophomore. Pritchard is right there too, as the highly productive, never-leaves-the-floor linchpin for a strong Oregon team. It wouldn’t surprise me if a strong showing in Pac-12 play enhances the senior guard’s case even more.
—Jeff Goodman also polled 11 college hoops writers to get their national POY picks. Obi Toppin topped that list as well, with Jordan Nwora checking in at No. 6.
—Sometimes all you can do is appreciate Ja Morant.
Lou Will was like “go ahead, you earned that” lmao pic.twitter.com/zcpxEaTK3W— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) January 4, 2020
—Lamar Jackson beer from Hysteria Brewing in Maryland has arrived.
—This is awesome.
✔️ UofL Cheerleader (1941-43)— Louisville Athletics (@GoCards) January 7, 2020
✔️ Graduated from UofL (1943)
✔️ US Navy Wave Meteorologist (1944-46)
✔️ 97 years young & still cheering on the Cards
We all strive to be like Edith.#GoCards pic.twitter.com/MSRUi2lpmk
—And finally, beat Miami.