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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Jonathan Lustig and his nephew, Brady, are ready to watch the Cards break the Virginia curse on Saturday.

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NET Rankings Update: No. 7.

—Florida State handed the Louisville women’s team its first ACC loss of the season Thursday night. The Cards were playing without Elizabeth Balogun, but Jeff Walz wasn’t making any excuses after the game.

—NBA scouts talk with The Athletic’s Danielle Lerner about the pro prospects on Chris Mack’s current roster.

Samuell Williamson, freshman wing, 6-foot-7

Williamson still needs more time and experience to develop, but scouts are already pegging him as a player to watch. The freshman had an uneven start to the season but has become a steady contributor in recent weeks, with one scout pointing out that going against opponents’ second units most likely has boosted Williamson’s confidence. There’s little doubt Williamson is going to be a pro-level talent. The question is, how soon?

Quotable

• “He’s an upside guy. I like his positional size and his length. He’s got a solid midrange game. He’s good in transition. I think he’s gonna be a capable defender because he’s long and athletic enough to switch and do some stuff. He’s a guy you really monitor strong.”

• “Stevie Wonder could see that kid’s good.”

• “Chris Mack and that staff have done a fabulous job with him. They eased him back in and I think he’s playing way, way more confident right now than he was. Much more sure of himself.”

—Louisville football is No. 13 in the country when it comes to returning production for 2020.

—At the moment, Louisville is living, not dying, with the three-pointer. The Cards are the fourth-best outside shooting team in American.

—U of L certainly could have used her Thursday night, but Elizabeth Balogun is balling for the Nigerian national team.

—Fresh Kimble says playing alongside shooters like Ryan McMahon and Jordan Nwora is a point guard’s dream.

—The U of L softball team opens its 2020 season today in Clearwater, Fla. The Cards will face No. 21 Ole Miss and then Baylor.

—Wayne Blackshear throwing it down for the Maine Red Claws of the G League:

—David Cobb of CBS looks at five ways that moving the three-point line back has affected college basketball this season.

—Brian Dohn of 247 Sports identifies Scott Satterfield’s 2020 recruiting class as “the sleeper class” of the ACC.

SLEEPER CLASS ... Louisville lost out on a December flip of four-star quarterback Chubba Purdy of Gilbert (Ariz.) Perry to Florida State but brought in Cartersville (Ga.) High’s Tee Webb and there is a ton of optimism in a class that gives coach Scott Satterfield much-needed depth. Louisville sits 40th nationally, which is a huge improvement from the 69th-rated class in 2019. Louisville signed 25 players, got more than half of them to enroll early. The class sits No. 7 in the ACC, and No. 42 in the nation.

Among the key signees are Milledgeville (Ga.) Georgia Military’s Trevor Reid and Fort Washington (Md.) National Christian’s Timothy Lawson. Both are long offensive tackles who need to develop, but also have high upsides.

The Cardinals flipped Appalachian State commit Marqui Lowery Jr. from Charlotte (N.C.) Vance on signing day. Louisville landed Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic defensive tackle Henry Bryant the day after the December period began.

—Louisville QB target Colten Gauthier talks about his recent visit to U of L.

—The Timberwolves and their fans were as sad to see Gorgui Dieng leave as we were seven years ago.

He leaves Minnesota ranked higher in several of the franchise’s all-time categories than I ever would have guessed.

—After 36 years of covering the ACC for the Daily Press, David Teel is stepping away.

—We now know why Michigan point guard Zavier Simpson was recently suspended for a game, and it’s a doozy. The senior captain was driving the car of the Michigan athletic director’s son, crashed into a pole at 3 in the morning, and then told police when they arrived that his name was “Jeff Jackson Simpson” and he had just stumbled upon the wrecked car.

Certainly nothing else to look into there.

—Yahoo’s Seerat Sohi writes about how Donovan Mitchell went from late bloomer to NBA All-Star.

“It’s just one of those things, you know? It’s only my third year, so I’m still trying to figure things out as well,” Mitchell told reporters after the game, shrugging his shoulders and tilting his head, looking for answers to questions that have perplexed Utah. “I’m looking to my vets and sometimes we all go through things we don’t really have an answer for. The biggest thing is to stick with it and trust it.”

There was no other way to slice it. Mitchell and the Jazz were in a rut. He could have headed back to the arena or stopped by the practice facility for a late-night sparring session against the rim. He went with an off-court sanctuary instead: his drum set. For two and a half hours, Mitchell escaped into a series of different playlists, forgetting he shot 36 percent from the floor over the course of a five-game road trip with only one win. He got lost and found himself rejuvenated. Only his shot was broken. Not his drumsticks.

”I think it just helps clear your mind,” he said. “I think it allows you to just go out there and just play free and not really stress about the games prior and stuff that may have happened, a bad game you may have had individually. You can go out there and just hoop.”

—Brentwood Academy DE Yirayah LaNier has committed to Louisville as a preferred walk-on.

—Lauren Brownlow and Caroline Darney talk a little Louisville-Virginia and a little Duke-UNC on the latest episode of An ACC Podcast.

—This is how you parent.

—The LEO gives you five things to do in Louisville this weekend.

—This year’s Pegasus Pin will feature the Louisville skyline.

—Friday Irrelevance, triple helping:

—The only ACC loss for both the U of L men’s and women’s teams has come at the hands of Florida State.

—247 Sports identifies members of the 2020 recruiting class who could make a big impact immediately as true freshmen, and Louisville signee Luka Gandra gets a mention.

Luke Kandra, OG, Louisville

247Sports Composite: No. 625

Kandra is a prospect the Top247 ranks well ahead of the composite (No. 207), and he’ll quickly be in contention for playing time at Louisville. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Ohio native is athletic, physical and technically sound coming out of Elder High School, one of the top programs in a talent-rich state. Louisville lost both of its starting tackles this offseason. Don’t be surprised if Cardinal o-line coach Dwayne Ledford gets creative to get Kandra on the field. Louisville needs the help, too. The Cardinal finished 120th nationally in sacks allowed per game, and that’s with potential first-round tackle Mekhi Becton anchoring the left side of the line.

—More and more mock brackets seem to have Louisville facing UC Irvine in what would be a rematch of 2015’s heart-stopper.

—Episode 12 of the Card Chronicle podcast is still fresh. Episode 13 will be out late tonight.

—Ignorant UK trolls on Twitter will be bodybagged by Jeff Walz.

—Alex Binelas and Reid Detmers have both been hit with yet another preseason All-Americn honor.

—The Marty Blazer story is the best synopsis to date of the ridiculous nature of the FBI’s probe into college basketball.

Marty Blazer is a crook, a con man, a thief. As a financial planner in Pittsburgh he stole $2.3 million from his clients, some of them former professional football players. If you tally up all the crimes he pleaded guilty to, he was facing 67 years.

He’s so shameless that at his sentencing hearing Thursday he even dared to argue for leniency by noting the two movies and the country music deal he funded with the stolen money all tanked. So it’s not like he benefited all that much.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos wasn’t sold on that argument but it hardly mattered.

Ramos gave Blazer probation, a $2.35 million forfeiture judgement and an order to pay back his clients some $1.56 million. How the 49-year-old pays that is anyone’s guess.

Whatever. On Thursday morning, Marty Blazer walked right out of Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse, the deal of a lifetime.

...

The NCAA pretended to be concerned, but neither its president, nor its senior staff, nor any conference commissioners or athletic directors ever showed up at any of the trials to hear firsthand how “amateurism” works in the real world. Two-and-a-half years later its enforcement department is backloaded with almost nothing done.

The NCAA even wrote a letter in support of Blazer, noting how helpful he’s been in pursuing NCAA rule violations.

Of course. Of course it did.

Of course no one at the NCAA considered what a ridiculous idea it would be to cape up for an admitted felon who stole from their former players (some of whom he says he recruited as clients by trying to pay them while still in school) because he decided to defend their precious rules in an effort to save his own tail.

With the NCAA, it’s anything for that rule book. Truly anything.

This is the same man who testified under oath that he helped pay football players at virtually every blueblood program in American, and no one cared at all.

—Matt Norlander’s Court Report feature is always a great summary of the current state of college hoops.

—The U of L men’s tennis squad has three matches set for this weekend.

—Louisville is No. 5 in the Three-Man-Weave’s latest power rankings.

5. Louisville

The Cardinals played with fire on Wednesday night, surviving a horrific first half in which they allowed Wake Forest to rack up 46 points while shooting 60% from the field, got outrebounded 17-12 by the Demon Deacons, and turned the ball over nine times. They cleaned things up considerably in the second half, winning that stanza by 22 points, so there’s obviously zero long-term damage done. But it’s still a slight cause for alarm against a clearly inferior team, something the Cardinals had largely done well to avoid recently in wins against NC State, BC, and Clemson.

Of course, every team has poor performances, and the important thing is that Louisville won. I’m sure Chris Mack is more than okay with having some material to work on in practice, as well.

—The Washington Post’s latest Bracketology has Louisville as a 2-seed.

—A reminder that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will be revealing its current top 16 teams Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on CBS.

—The latest victory video is here:

—Dana Evans is the 31st U of L women’s basketball player to surpass the 1,000-point mark for her career.

—Jay Scrubb says that at the moment, the decision between Louisville and the NBA is “50-50.”

“I’m just going to see where I am at the end of the season,” Scrubb said. “I don’t have to rush.

“I feel like right now it’s 50-50. Of course, every time I see my name on a draft board I get excited. But the Louisville thing would be great for me. It’s the hometown and I really like what they’re doing at Louisville.”

Scrubb said he watched Louisville all the time and would be “very excited” to play for Chris Mack. It would also be a reunion with current U of L freshman, David Johnson after the two played together for two seasons at Trinity.

“I see my guy, David Johnson, stepping up into a new role now,” Scrubb said. “I am excited to be able to bring the backcourt back.

“I watch Louisville all the time and see where I can fit in with them.”

If you’re saying it’s 50-50 right now, to me, that indicates that it’s more likely than not that you’re leaning NBA. I’ve thought since last summer that Scrubb making the jump is the slight leader in this race, but we shall see.

—The newcomers on Louisville’s defensive line should “bring something special” to the program.

—Jordan Sperber of Hoop Vision notes that the emergence of David Johnson has brought with it the return of the ball screen offense for Louisville.

#2 [Louisville] Ball screen offense

Chris Mack and Louisville entered the season with a fairly clear change in offensive philosophy from the 2018-19 season.

Last year’s offense was primarily functioned around ball screens, especially for grad transfer Christen Cunningham. This year’s offense started the season primarily functioned around off-ball screens, with players moving and cutting away from the ball.

With the emergence of freshman David Johnson — who had a breakout game against Duke — the overall offensive identity, even now in February, is still somewhat to be determined.

Play type data indicates that Louisville’s ball screen usage is increasing with Johnson. Senior point guard Fresh Kimble has used one ball screen every 4.0 minutes while on the court this season. Johnson, on the other hand, has used one ball screen every 2.4 minutes.

It’s strange that a 10-1 ACC team is still determining their offensive identity this late in the season, but that seems to be the case with Louisville. Considering the amount of talent on the roster and that Louisville is fourth in the country in 3P% (39.7%), I think the ceiling is still quite high for Chris Mack’s offense.

The Hoop Vision newsletter also notes that Louisville-Virginia is projected to be the lowest-scoring game in all of college basketball this weekend.

—Streaking the Lawn has Louisville at No. 1 in its ACC power rankings.

—And finally, beat Virginia.