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Wednesday evening Cardinal news and notes

The 2020 Quarantine Tour arrives at Woody’s in San Antonio, which is forever representing for the Cards.

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—It was a tough day at U of L as Vince Tyra announced Wednesday afternoon that U of L athletics has placed 45 employees on a 60-day furlough and eliminated 40 other positions altogether.

—After 33 seasons and a pair of national titles, Muffet McGraw made the surprising announcement Wednesday afternoon that she is retiring from coaching at Notre Dame. I’ll choose to remember her for her losses to Louisville.

—The Cards are back.

—Rodger’s never wrong.

This story of Spalding shortstop Eric Meyer’s road from addiction to recovery to conference Player of the Year honors is really terrific.

—A dramatically re-shaped Louisville roster will have to learn (Athletic link) Chris Mack’s pack line defense on the fly.

Four new players — wing D’Andre Davis, forward J.J. Traynor and guards Carlik Jones and Charles Minlend Jr. — will inject size into the roster, especially in the backcourt. Jones (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) is the only player listed under 6-foot-4. Louisville’s 3-point percentage defense (30.1) ranked 33rd nationally in 2019-20, and the extra length on the perimeter should make that a strength again next season. Length will also be an asset if Louisville implements the 2-3 zone defense, which Mack used occasionally with relative success this season.

The two freshmen, Davis and Traynor, are physical, versatile players who can guard inside and out. Davis has drawn comparisons to Sutton for his hard-nosed style of play, while Traynor is surprisingly quick-footed with a 36-inch vertical. The most intriguing additions, however, are a pair of experienced grad transfers in Jones (Radford) and Minlend (San Francisco). Both guards can score in bunches, but they shouldn’t be ignored for the abilities and no-nonsense attitudes they exhibit on the other end of the floor.

“Just in talking to coaches that coached against them, and coaching staffs that battled against those guys for a number of years, they felt like both Charles and Carlik brought a lot of toughness to the table both mentally and physically,” Mack said last week. “The opportunities just weren’t there out of high school. Both of them carry a chip on their shoulder, and that’s one of the biggest things that you can have defensively, is a desire. I’ll also tell you that they’re both extremely smart and they’re excited about the challenge of playing here at the next level. It’s up from where they’ve been before. I’d like to think they’re going to bring that type of energy and that type of effort, which it takes on the defensive end. And a little bit of that spirit of like I said of feeling like they were overlooked.”

—U of L tight end target Gunnar Greenwald has elected to stay home and play for South Florida.

—Milt Wagner’s grandson has been crowned as the top freshman basketball player in the country.

—Eric Wood has little doubt that Mekhi Becton is NFL ready.

—Test your knowledge of the 2020 NFL draft class with this quiz.

—Mekhi Becton might become the highest NFL draft pick from Louisville ever tomorrow night, but the big guy wants more than that.

—Don’t forget that Mekhi could ball.

—A reminder that for the next podcast we’re going to be re-watching and then discussing Louisville’s 2003 win at Marquette. The full game is available here.

Props to those who are taking this work seriously.

—Three-star linebacker Damon Owens from Tennessee has Louisville in his final six.

—The Scripps National Spelling Bee has been canceled for the first time since World War II.

—This is perfect.

—Marshon Ford was so good in 2019.

—Pikeville WR Seth Pugh has committed to Louisville as a preferred walk-on.

—Nailed it.

—Brad Bigg’s final mock draft for the Chicago Times has Mekhi Becton going sixth overall.

—Class of 2021 WR Isaiah Brevard has Louisville in his final 10.

—The Japan Times writes about Norika Konno’s first season at Louisville. She rules.

“(Walz) was aware that I was losing my confidence and talked to me during and after practices,” Konno said. “And one day, I was told to come to his office. Our video coordinator was there, too. And they showed a highlight film of me from the season.

“The video coordinator had actually asked what my favorite Japanese music was. (The person) put the music in the highlight film. They did that so that I’d regain my confidence. It made me cry a lot and it did help me regain my confidence. I thought he was such a great coach and it made me think I had to work harder.”

Konno has always liked crooning songs, by the way. Her roommates and fellow freshman players Romani Parker, Nyah Green and three other teammates listed Konno as “best singer on the team” in the media guide.

“Really?” Konno reacted with a smile when she was told many of her teammates say she is good at singing. “I didn’t know that.”

Meanwhile, Konno actively made took steps to be a better player. In addition to practices and games keeping her busy, academics were also a challenge because of the language barrier.

Konno said she sometimes did not go back to her dormitory room and stayed at the gym so she could devote her spare time to practice. She would sometimes work on her shooting until late at night and sleep on a couch in the locker room before going to her classes the next day.

“Other players were like, ‘You’re staying here? Are you all right?’” Konno said. “But it takes me longer to finish my homework than others and it wasn’t easy for me to find the time (for practicing), so I was like, ‘Yeah, I am.’”

—A poll of all 130 FBS athletic directors reveals that 99 percent of them believe we will have college football season this year, but 75 percent believe the start of that season will be delayed.

—And finally, a Sacramento Kings site reminisces about its former obsession with Francisco Garcia.