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Tuesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

My guy Charlie Brown is ready for the return of college hoops to the Ville.

—Spread check: Virginia by 3.

—The latest NBA draft big board from Sports Illustrated has Jordan Nwora at No. 43 and Jay Scrubb at No. 73.

—The U of L women’s basketball team is No. 5 in the preseason AP poll, which was released at noon on Tuesday.

The Cards will travel to face No. 3 UConn in December.

—Bronco Mendenhall discusses how Virginia spent its “mini bye-week.”

—Rob Dauster has David Johnson as one of 12 college basketball players who will be considered breakout stars by the time the NCAA tournament rolls around.


I’m all aboard the David Johnson bandwagon.

A 6-foot-5 lead guard that is a terrific passer and a plus-defender, Johnson really came on down the stretch of the 2019-20 season after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He averaged nine points, four boards and four assists in his final 15 games, including a 19-point, seven-assist outburst in a win at Duke in January. He can make every pass a point guard needs to be able to make. He’s a stud in ball-screens. He would be more or less everything that an NBA team could ever ask for in a lead guard …

… except he can’t shoot.

The question that you need to ask is if those shooting issues were a result of being a bad shooter, or having reconstructive surgery on his shoulder. The answer, truthfully, is probably both, but I’m willing to bet on shooting to come around in most instances. I’ll be doing just that here.

Now, if there is a concern here, it’s that all the buzz coming out of Louisville this offseason has been about Carlik Jones. That might cut into some of Johnson’s counting stats and take some of this time on the ball away. But it doesn’t change the way that I view Johnson as a player.

—Duke will begin the 2020-21 basketball season not allowing fans to attend home games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

—The Sporting News has an oral history of the last Saturday of the 2019-20 college basketball, which wound up being the only real taste of March Madness that we got in 2020.

—The choice for ACC Preseason Player of the Year was a no-brainer.

—Tom Izzo has tested positive for Covid-19.

As has Arkansas head football coach Sam Pittman.

—Mid-Major Madness previews Cardinal opponent UNC Greensboro as part of its preseason “the other top 25” series.

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the Spartans have posted a record of 120-52, which is the best five-year run in program history. Just like conference rival Furman, the window of opportunity is now. Like Furman’s Bob Richey, UNCG’s Wes Miller is likely going to be a candidate for bigger jobs at the end of the season, and it will also be the final time around for Isaiah Miller, who is one of the best players to come through the SoCon in a long time.

The Spartans have continued their defensive trend over the past few seasons, and that has a lot to do with having the reigning two-time league defensive player of the year in Miller. He is on pace to set the SoCon’s all-time career steals record, sitting just 94 short of Keith Jennings’ all-time mark.

That would be quite a feat for the talented, athletic senior guard. Miller has 241 thefts in his outstanding career, including 104 takeaways in his sophomore season, giving him the second-best in a single season in SoCon history.

In terms of scoring defense, the Spartans finished tied for first in the SoCon last season, surrendering just 63.1 points per game. UNCG forced opponents to turn the ball over on 24.5% of their possessions last season.

While defense has been the mantra with Miller leading the way, there will be a massive hole to be filled in the middle of that vaunted matchup zone defense the Spartans utilize so effectively, with the graduation of rim protector James Dickey. Filling that void may have already been answered earlier this summer.

—The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman writes that Clemson-Notre Dame was the Game of the Year, both in that it was the best game that will be played this regular season, and in that the best player in the sport was out with Covid and the winning team had to dodge its own fans to avoid virus spread.

—Louisville has spiked in popularity for Americans moving away from the country’s most populated cities.

—The tee times for the first two rounds of this week’s Masters tournament (still feels weird to type) are out.

—Our first co-gold jersey winners of 2020-21.

—Like Louisville, Pitt is planning to allow a limited number of fans to attend home basketball games this winter. The Panthers’ first home game will be its Dec. 22 tilt against U of L.

—Here’s a look at how former Louisville players now in the NFL fared in week nine.

—The little guy doesn’t go down easy.

—U of L Health has signed on to be the title sponsor for the city’s new arena football team, the Louisville Xtreme.

—And finally, Eric Crawford reacts to the release of the Louisville men’s basketball schedule.