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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

The Renck kids know their bye week reading material.

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—We have updated game times and TV assignments for the 2021-22 Louisville men’s basketball team, including the knowledge that the Michigan State ACC-Big 10 Challenge contest will be a 7:15 tip on ESPN2. The Nov. 9 season-opener against Southern will tip-off at 9 p.m.

—The annual coaches salary database is out, and Scott Satterfield is the 48th highest-paid coach in college football, and the 10th highest-paid coach in the ACC.

—Matt Norlander of CBS wraps up his preseason countdown of all 358 teams in college basketball and has Louisville at No. 30. He added on Twitter that the Cards were one of the most difficult teams in the country to rank.

30. Louisville: If there’s a guy in the ACC who is going to make a substantial statistical jump for an NCAA tourney-level team, I’ll put a tab on Malik Williams to be that guy. He averaged 5.0 points and 6.0 rebounds but he might be a top-five defender in the conference. Williams is who gives the Cards a chance at being top-30 good. Samuell Williamson has enticing elements to his game and will be the MVP on some nights, but the most talented player on the roster is Jae’Lyn Withers, a 6-8 forward who will need to become more assertive. U of L got some setback news in October when freshman guard/forward Mike James tore his left Achilles. He was the best high school player in Florida last year. This program again has had a lot of noise around it in the offseason (extortion attempts and what-have-you), but it’s not known if the forthcoming IARP case will impact this season. I tend to think it will not.

The top five: Gonzaga, Purdue, Villanova, Kansas, Michigan.

—It’s a big weekend in local high school football action, with a solid slate of games actually being played tonight. The CJ staff makes their picks.

—The art of trolling is at an all-time high among college football social accounts this season. This is a fun story.

—Shoutout to Louisville men’s tennis for pulling in a 5-star recruit.

—We’ve got one week to go until the U of L hoops Tip-Off Luncheon. Tickets are still available.

—Virginia football’s escape acts these last two weeks have Cavalier fans feeling like it’s 2007.

—A reloaded Louisville women’s basketball team is ready to face a loaded ACC in 2021-22.

But in this stacked season in ACC women’s basketball, whether the Cardinals will be favored to win the league after the departure of two-time ACC player of the year Dana Evans — or even to have the league preseason player of the year — is a matter of debate.

It’s not that the program has taken a step back at all. It’s that a good league returns a great many of its better players and teams, including an N.C. State team that finished last season ranked No. 3 in the nation and which returns nearly its entire team, as will Florida State and Georgia Tech. Traditional power Notre Dame expects to be strong.

If ACC men’s basketball is in a season of transition, ACC women’s basketball is as good as it has ever been.

But so, it appears, is Louisville. Jeff Walz begins his 15th season as coach not knowing exactly who will be his next ACC player of the year candidate. But he has more candidates on his roster, perhaps, than he’s had since his 2018 Final Four team had three players who either had won — or would eventually win — the honor.

Two of them, Kianna Smith and Hailey Van Lith, traveled with Walz on Wednesday to ACC Women’s Basketball Media Day in Charlotte. But Walz has a roster stacked with five former McDonald’s All-Americans, some highly-touted freshmen and a couple of transfer portal arrivals who should provide minutes and leadership right away.

“We have more candidates for sure,” Walz said. “This could be a year, when you finish and look at our games, where we could have seven or eight different leading scorers in different games. It’s not your traditional, ‘That’s your 19-points-a-game scorer.’ I think any night we have eight or nine ... who could get 18 to 20.”

—The second-ranked and undefeated Louisville volleyball team is on the road this weekend to face Virginia Tech (Friday) and Wake Forest (Sunday). Here’s a preview of the weekend ahead.

—Jae’Lyn Withers is the guest on the latest episode of Jeff Greer’s podcast.

—Big shoutout to the readers of LEO Weekly for voting Card Chronicle Best Twitter Account and second Best Blog. Also a big congrats to our friends over at Cardinal Sports Zone and State of Louisville for placing in the Best Website category.

—Love you, Larry.

—The fourth-ranked Louisville field hockey is traveling north to face No. 12 Boston College and Northeastern this weekend.

—The U of L men’s soccer team will play host to North Carolina Friday night.

—Tickets for Louisville football’s Homecoming game against Boston College are still available ... but I don’t think I needed to tell you that.

—Jeff Greer’s latest U of L basketball newsletter is heavy on reaction to what he saw at practice earlier this week.

-Sam Williamson on Wednesday looked like a player ready for a big season. There is an edge to him. He tried on multiple occasions to dunk on his teammates. He was again dogged in the pursuit of rebounds. You can see the work he put in on his 3-pointer — getting his clip into the 30s would make him a much more dangerous offensive weapon.

-As for Cross, he ran the break on a few occasions, got into the mix on the glass and made some nice passes and drives. Still has some defensive progress to make. He may play both forward spots.

-Don’t be surprised if you see Dre Davis in post-ups or as the screener in pick-and-rolls. His versatility makes him really interesting in this group.

-Still didn’t get to see Faulkner in live, physical action, just drills, but he moves like a veteran. Jarrod West spent a lot of time pushing Faulkner and talking him through a few Louisville-specific principles and situations — Faulkner arrived late this summer and has some catching up to do there.

-JJ Traynor is such a tantalizing prospect. He needs to add weight to his frame and keep working to be more consistent, but the flashes are easy to like. He turned a two-dribble baseline drive into a thunderous dunk that prompted a gym-wide “ooh.”

—Tuesday night’s loss to Memphis dropped Lou City down to second place in its division.

—Kentucky is the worst state in America for older workers according to this study.

—Been saying for years that what the Highlands has been missing is a gigantic toilet and gigantic hand giving the middle finger.

—Sydney Curry is “ready to roll” at U of L.

—Tickets to the NWSL championship — which was moved to Louisville earlier this week — will go on sale Friday.

—The Athletic dives into the future of ACC basketball after Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski.

Even if Virginia and FSU are roughly as good as they were a season ago (which is to say top-20 teams, but not top-10), who else will fill in the top half of this league? Louisville? Speaking of the departure of coaching icons: Rick Pitino’s tenure may have ended in scandal and disgrace, but he was also extremely good at coaching basketball players, particularly in the art of playing defense. Louisville under Pitino was a reliable high single-digit seed, pretty much always played top-10 efficiency defense, and in just three years in the league (before Pitino’s ouster) established itself as yet another championship-contending member of the league’s elite.

Replacing Pitino with Chris Mack assuaged Louisville fans’ status anxiety — Mack is also a really good coach — but going from the ninth-best team in the country (in adjusted efficiency margin) in 2019-20 to 59th last season must have been at least slightly disconcerting. Or was that just COVID-related weirdness? Louisville got blown out twice after long pauses; otherwise, it had an OK year. Besides, this team is almost entirely new: seven new faces, including three immediately eligible transfers (including Noah Locke from Florida) and the kind of junior college stars (particularly ball-dominant guard Elbert Ellis) that feel like the perfect conceptual replacement for departing star Carlik Jones. If Louisville, despite the program’s endless ability to embarrass itself off the floor, can get back on track on it, the ACC will start to look a lot tougher right away.

—Louisville Report has three keys to the second half of the season for the Cardinal football team.

—And finally, the Mike Rutherford Show is back from 3-6 this afternoon on 1450AM/96.1FM. Matt Willinger of U of L will join at 3:30 to preview next week’s Homecoming events. Chaos will reign supreme before and after that segment.

You can stream the show here and text into the show on the Thornton’s Text Line at 502-414-1450.