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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

When you remember that Louisville’s already bowl eligible.

—Spread check: Virginia by 3.

—You can find the full schedule for the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic right here.

—With so much uncertainty still looming, Chris Mack has started practice this season with a pared-down playbook.

As Louisville’s football team reels from the effects of COVID-19, the Cardinals’ men’s basketball team enters its third full week of practice with a pared-down playbook and plans for keeping up to speed anyone who may contract the virus.

Coach Chris Mack already trimmed the team’s schemes heading into the pandemic-delayed season and won’t jump ahead of schedule in practice due to the possibility of illness. He said Monday the frequency of plays and concepts the staff introduces are based on players’ ability to absorb them, not the risk of missing anyone for a period of time to quarantine.

“If you put too much in and they can’t digest it, we’re going to have no ability to run whatever we’re trying to implement,” Mack said. “So if a guy happens to get sick, then we’re going to have to keep him up to speed through Zooms, through showing film over the Zooms. You never know when that could or couldn’t happen in terms of when a guy gets sick and gets put in isolation. I’m going to give the players X’s and O’s as I feel like they can digest them.”

—The CJ highlights three things Louisville needs to do on Saturday in order to have success against Virginia.

—The injury bug has already bitten Louisville a little bit this preseason. Samuell Wlliamson and Malik Williams are the notable victims.

—Freshman Olivia Cochran is already impressing the U of L women’s basketball staff.

—The Louisville basketball countdown series continues with Aidan Igiehon and Charles Minlend.

—This year’s Jimmy V. Classic is likely headed to Indianapolis.

—Louisville fans aren’t the only ones who have a hard time with ACC Network games.

—Hoops Insight takes an in-depth “rewind” look at Louisville’s ill-fated 2015-16 team.

Forgotten excellence, especially on defense

The postseason ban has made 2015-16 a bit of a lost season in Louisville basketball history, but this was a very strong team. They finished the season rated 7th in KenPom’s ranking system, and would likely have earned a top 3 seed. They finished the season 23-8, with all 8 losses coming to teams in the KenPom top 50 and 7 of the 8 coming on the road. The only team they lost to by more than 8 points was eventual #1 seed Virginia.

In true Rick Pitino style, this team made their hay on the defensive side of the ball. They ranked 2nd per KenPom in defensive efficiency, and specialized in making halfcourt possessions extremely difficult. They were 350th in length of opponent possession, forcing opponents deep into the shot clock. They allowed the 7th lowest percentage of opponent shots in transition, and were 10th in effective FG% allowed in non-transition opportunities. While this team had length around the rim (10th in block rate), they weren’t great at defending there; they ranked 113th in frequency of opponent shots there and 97th in opponent FG% at the rim. Instead, they clamped down on 2 point jumpers, with the 3rd lowest opponent FG% on these shots. Synergy rated the Cardinals in the 99th percentile on defense, and in the 100th percentile when playing man defense. The Cards were versatile, rating in the 95th percentile or better against transition, pick & roll ballhandlers, isolation, post-ups, and offensive rebounds.

The Cards were more pedestrian offensively, ranking 42nd in offensive efficiency per Kenpom. Their biggest weapon was offensive rebounding, where they ranked 8th; by comparison they were 77th in effective FG%, 110th in turnover rate, and a ghastly 294th in free throw rate. That offensive profile is a bit surprising when you consider that the Cards had 2 eventual NBA guards in Damion Lee and Donovan Mitchell, but neither of them drew free throws at a high rate.

I said at the time, I’ve said it every day since, and I’ll say it again now: The self-imposed ban was the wrong move. Even though it looked like the “smart” move for the program at the time, it was still wrong. That team should have been afforded the opportunity to play its season out.

—247 Sports plays know the foe with Virginia.

—College Hoops Watch has Louisville at No. 5 in its ACC preview.

5. Louisville – The Cardinals have the depth and versatility to win the league with David Johnson and Malik Williams combining for a solid one-two punch and last season’s Big South POY Carlik Jones joining the team. Jones was the Big South’s leading scorer a year ago at Radford as he averaged 20.0 ppg. Samuell Williamson looks like he is ready for a break-out season as well after working out judiciously during covid and changing the muscle mass of his body. San Francisco transfer Charles Minlend can also fill it up from the outside. Mack has many options and if this team can develop and maintain an aggressive mindset on both ends of the floor, they will play deep into March.

Ten takeaways from Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s pre-Louisville press conference.

—Virginia will be without one of its best defensive players on Saturday (and for the rest of the season).

Burney had 16 tackles and two sacks through the first five games of the season for UVA.

—Per Jon Rothstein, the ACC is expected to release its full basketball schedule next week.

—I don’t think there will be a better college basketball press release this season than the following one:

Two of the top men’s basketball programs in the New York metropolitan area will meet on the hardwood as Hofstra University and Iona College have inked a three-game series...with a twist.

The home site for the 2020-21 match-up on Wednesday, December 23, will be decided via a best of three series of “Rock Paper Scissors” between mascots from each school - Willie Pride of Hofstra and Killian of Iona. The battle of the mascots will occur on Wednesday, November 4 at 5 p.m.

The showdown will be broadcast on Zoom and media are invited to “attend”. It will also be broadcast live on the Hofstra Pride YouTube page and on the Iona Athletics Facebook page for fans of both schools to tune in.

The winner of the Rock Paper Scissors contest will host the game in 2020-21 and 2022-23, with the other institution hosting the game in 2021-22.

“I can’t wait to take on Killian in this epic battle of Rock Paper Scissors,” commented Willie Pride. “I know my paws have the power to win this and with Kate Pride’s support and the Hofstra community behind me I know we will prevail!”.

“There is no better way to decide home court than a truly righteous battle of Rock Paper Scissors. Willie Pride is a worthy opponent, but with Gael Nation behind me, there is no doubt the Maroon & Gold shall prevail,” mentioned Killian.

Hofstra Acting Head Coach Mike Farrelly and Iona Head Coach Rick Pitino will join their mascots for support and be available for questions from the media. Willie and Killian will also be available for questions following the Rock Paper Scissors-mandated 10-second cooling-off period.

Media wishing to “attend” the Rock Paper Scissors battle should contact Stephen Gorchov at Hofstra or Brian Beyrer at Iona.


—George Tinsley, business mogul and former high school teammate of one Glenn Rutherford, is the guest on the latest episode of Larry O’Bannon’s podcast.

—Nice to see Steven Enoch’s professional career off to a solid start.

—Class of 2023 shortstop Alex Alicea has committed to Louisville baseball.

—Jaraye Williams (T-Will’s son) is eager to get his Cardinal football career going.

—At best, Wisconsin is now down to six regular season games.

—The Louisville crystal ball predictions are flowing for class of 2021 big man Roosevelt Wheeler out of Richmond.

—Junior safety Trenell Troutman has joined Thurman Gaethers in opting out of the remainder of the 2020 season.

—Scott Davenport is very excited that Bellarmine will be playing its home games at Freedom Hall.

—Gobbler Country reviews Virginia Tech’s win over Louisville.

—And finally, the depth charts for both Louisville and Virginia for this weekend’s game are now out.