—The U of L women’s basketball team’s game against North Carolina — which was originally scheduled for Dec. 13 and then Jan. 1 — will now be played on Jan. 5. The team’s scheduled game against Virginia on Jan. 3 has been postponed.
—The CJ’s Cameron Teague Robinson examines how Louisville’s current football offense compares to years past.
—A very happy birthday to Chris Mack.
—Cardinal athletes new and old have had a week to remember.
—Arizona announced a self-imposed postseason ban yesterday. Pat Forde writes that nobody is buying it.
The new page in the playbook: take a ban with a team that is below the school’s usual standard, in a season that is a mess, and then expect credit for it when it’s time for an infractions hearing. Arizona is 7–1 but lost its only game away from home and has a No. 38 Ken Pomeroy ranking, after being in the top 20 six of the previous eight seasons. Auburn is 6–2 and No. 65 in the Pomeroy Ratings, its lowest ranking in four seasons, and star freshman recruit Sharife Cooper has not played due to an eligibility inquiry. And LSU’s bowl ban is particularly hilarious, given the Tigers’ 5–5 record (3–5 at the time) and high number of player opt-outs.
This is yet another loophole in the NCAA crime-and-punishment process that schools and their legal counsel are happy to exploit when it suits them. If punishment is inevitable, administer some of it yourself at a time and manner of your choosing. Then act like you’re taking the whole thing verrrry seriously.
“Every time a school self-imposes, the cynicism level rises in the sport,” said ESPN analyst and former college coach Fran Fraschilla.
“Don’t think you’re getting over on all of us here,” said fellow ESPN analyst Dan Dakich, another former college coach. “If I were the NCAA, I would say, ‘It’s great that you did that. We’re not going to take any of it into consideration. That’s your year [ban]. Now here come our years.’ “
—Based on votes from 110 of the state’s coaches, here are the 25 best boys high school basketball players in the state of Kentucky for this season, a list headlined by WKU signee Zion Harmon.
—No top 25 team in college basketball currently has a freshman leading it in scoring. And only two top 25 teams have a freshman as their second-leading scorer. Experience has ruled so far in 2020-21.
—Jaire Alexander is a remarkably good football player.
Jaire Alexander has only allowed 1 catch go for more than 25 yards in coverage this season pic.twitter.com/d7pfVtG1YA— PFF (@PFF) December 29, 2020
—Chris Mack will hold his pre-Boston College virtual press conference Thursday at 1:50 p.m.
—Louisville is a 7-seed in The Athletic’s latest mock bracket.
—Not shocking that even in the middle of a pandemic where TV ratings for sporting events are down across the board, Louisville-Kentucky drew massive numbers locally.
UK Basketball at U of L Saturday got a 22/44 rating share on ESPN. Monster numbers for cable game, reminding us why Louisville is the number one tv market for the sport. @wlky @LouisvilleMBB @UKBasketbalI— Fred Cowgill WLKY (@FredCowgillWLKY) December 30, 2020
—Louisville assistant Dino Gaudio is the guest on the latest episode of Jeff Greer’s podcast.
—State of Louisville has a nine-step plan to fix Louisville football.
—Trinity quarterback Nathan McElroy has committed to Louisville as a preferred walk-on. McElroy had previously been committed to Butler.
—Louisville DL Ryheem Craig is poised to excel in college, at least according to his future position coach.
—Jeff Walz hoped on with Packer and Durham Wednesday morning to talk about all the frustration of the last few weeks. You can find a clip here.
—As you’d expect, New Year’s Eve celebrations all across Louisville have been scaled back this year.
—Eric Crawford writes about the women’s basketball team’s desire to get back on the court.
Walz’s team often scrimmages against men’s players and works against them during practice sets. When they don’t, he’s deep enough to go 5-on-5 in scrimmages, in which players will face teammates who could start for many of the teams Louisville plays. He said he’s not concerned about his team being in “game shape,” because they practice at the same speed in which they play.
“The kids are great,” Walz said. “They all have aspirations of playing after college. Sure, they want to be playing games. But they also know that they’re getting better every day. They come to practice, we have fun, they compete and work hard. So they’re doing great. I’m really proud of them and I told them that. Basketball is what they do. You can’t go out and do a whole bunch during this pandemic. I’ve had staff members ask if we should give them a day off, and I say, ‘To do what?’ We have to take our mandatory days off. But to add more to it, they’ve said, ‘No. We don’t want to take days off.’”
Walz said the team has had “a few cases” of COVID-19. He’s not allowed to specify who or how many. But the team is free of the virus now, and has been working toward its return to the court.
The team practiced once after traveling to Duke, on Dec. 10, then didn’t practice again as a group until it returned the day after Christmas, though players who didn’t have the virus were allowed to work out and play and condition on their own.
“Will we look as good as we did those first five games?” Walz said. “It might be a little shaky to start, but I’m not concerned about that. We’ve been practicing extremely well. Our chemistry looks good, our timing is getting better, so I’m not concerned about that.”
—Cardinal Authority identifies the in-state football recruits from the class of 2022 to keep an eye on.
—And finally, offense is the focus for the Louisville basketball team as it turns its full attention to the ACC season.