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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Oona Mae is ready to watch the Cards punch a ticket to the Sweet 16 tonight.

—Spread check: Louisville by 7.

—Here’s the GoCards.com recap of Louisville’s NCAA tournament-opening win over Marist. And its preview of tonight’s game against Northwestern.

—Louisville’s Michael Kirian has been named as the ACC’s Pitcher of the Week.

—Jeff Greer’s latest Floyd Street Tribune looks at what Louisville’s returning players need to focus on during the offseason.

Samuell Williamson

3-point shooting. By season’s end, no one had better production outside of Carlik Jones than Williamson. In fact, Williamson posted the best defensive rebounding percentage (23.1%) for a small forward since at least Rick Pitino’s first season, because that’s as far back as Ken Pomeroy’s data goes. Williamson ranked 100th in all of college basketball in that category. Beyond that, he put up the best offensive rebounding percentage (8.2%) for a Cards small forward since the 2003-04 season and shot the best 2-point field-goal percentage (55.5%) for his position since Kyle Kuric in the 2011-12 season. He averaged 10 points and nine rebounds vs. ACC opponents.

The last steps in Williamson’s game include improved ballhandling and, more importantly, 3-point shooting. We knew before Williamson’s arrival in college that 3-point shooting would be a work in progress, and he shot 9 of 36 this campaign. Evan Daniels told me in 2019 that Williamson, once he adds muscle to his frame and gains strength, should add range to his jump shooting. That’s what I expect after another full college offseason.

Jae’Lyn Withers

Quickness. As long as Louisville finds more center depth beyond Gabe Wiznitzer and incoming freshman Roosevelt Wheeler — maybe Malik Williams returns? — Withers can go back to what he does best. He slashes and attacks off the dribble while also stretching the floor as a frontcourt 3-point shooter. To get there, he’ll have to work on his body again, adding more quickness to play the stretch power forward spot.

—David Johnson highlights from the 2020-21 season are here (video).

—Ricky O’Donnell ranks the 16 teams remaining in the men’s NCAA tournament.

—Whether they were rooting for him or against him, a lot of eyeballs in Louisville were on Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels on Saturday.

—Jeff Walz is one of 10 finalists for the WBCA National Coach of the Year award.

—Sam Vecenie and Brian Bennett rank (Athletic link) the 35 best available players (potential transfers and unsigned recruits) in college basketball.

—Louisville Report previews tonight’s game between the Cards and Northwestern.

—Happy anniversary to a better time ... that I wasn’t alive for. I’m assuming it was very cool.

—Western Kentucky went through 10 pitchers in its loss to Louisville Tuesday night.

—The Bowling Green Daily News also recaps the game.

—U of L football has offered Texas safety Chace Biddle.

—Hailey Van Lith crashed the SportsCenter Top 10 on Tuesday.

—With their initial tournament jitters out of the way, Jeff Walz and his Louisville team have their sights set on advancing to another Sweet 16.

—The second-ranked Louisville field hockey team took down No. 20 Miami University in a shootout.

—Eric Crawford recounts the five best things Malik Williams said about returning to Louisville.

—Sheldon Rankins is happy to be a Jet.

—After being released from his letter of intent by Louisville over the weekend, Eric Van Der Heijden is now headed to Ole Miss.

—Louisville has offered class of 2023 defensive tackle William Spencer from Male High.

—Derby countdown season is officially here.

—For years, the NCAA has denied the women’s basketball tournament the use of the powerful “March Madness” brand, even though it’s trademarked for both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

—Matt McGavic looks at the three biggest transfer needs for Louisville basketball this offseason.

—Mark Emmert gets hammered (Athletic link) by Dana O’Neil.

The emperor walked through the concourse of Hinkle Fieldhouse, three suits walking feverishly in front of him, three more behind. People who couldn’t pick Mark Emmert out of a lineup at least got the message that this was a Very Important Person coming through. This, by the way, was on Friday afternoon, while Emmert’s kingdom burned.

At the time, a video showing the disparities between the weight rooms at the men’s and women’s tournaments already was two days old, and players in Indianapolis had started a hashtag — #NotNCAAProperty — requesting to speak with Emmert about name, image and likeness rights.

Since then Emmert has deflected, denied, blamed and punted. What he hasn’t done is lead, revealing himself once again to be little more than an ineffective piece of puffery when his organization needs him most. This is not new. In his tenure, Emmert has proven to be a vital commodity when one needs a windbag; not so much in a crisis.

In 2011, he proudly and defiantly threw the book at Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and then blinked when it turned out he didn’t have the authority to impose the sanctions. In 2013, as questions swirled about botched investigations involving Miami and Penn State, Emmert began his Final Four news conference with a 2,500 word salad that addressed nothing but achieved the task of shortening the Q&A with the media. A year later, with his organization facing a divisive crisis about possible Division I autonomy and player unions, he sat at the dais flanked by five others, deferring the first question to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. In 2018, as the FBI investigation into college basketball burned, he brought Dr. Eric Kaler, University of Minnesota president and NCAA Board of Directors chair, to help answer the tough questions. And last year he issued a statement to announce the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, and then disappeared.

So really anyone who is surprised at Emmert’s flailing foolishness and ineptitude this week hasn’t been paying attention. Looking important long has been his strong suit, not actually doing important things.

—And also by Pete Thamel on another front: The NCAA tournament’s flubbed television deal.

All those are going to pale in comparison to what promises to be Emmert’s defining legacy of incompetence at the NCAA, a mistake that’s going to likely cost the association more than $3.5 billion in upcoming years. In 2016, the NCAA had eight years left on its NCAA tournament television contract with CBS and Turner and decided not to take it to market.

Instead, the NCAA extended the deal until 2032 at a modest increase of less than 3% annually. At the time, Emmert took a victory lap in the media, saying that uncertainties in the “evolving media landscape” led to the extension.

Well, the landscape has evolved. And those who trade in the television business have declared it a failure of vision, destined to go down as one of the worst sports television deals in modern athletic history. History will remember CBS and Turner executives wearing a ski mask in those negotiations, as the deal is already considered a bargain with more than a decade remaining. By the time it expires in 2032, Emmert will be remembered as having left billions on the table.

“I think this is one of the biggest mistakes in sports media in recent history,” said a veteran of the TV rights space. “You can’t get free agent money without being an actual free agent. Why would the third or fourth most popular postseason sporting event need long-term security? It was a total mistake.”

So how much will the NCAA’s lack of leadership end up costing itself? Yahoo Sports spoke to multiple veterans of the television space who said it was reasonable to predict a 100% increase from the prior deal, which averaged $770 million per year.

Few major figures in sports have ever been worse at their job than Mark Emmert is at his.

And yet ... that just doesn’t seem to matter.

—ESPN’s Jeff Borzello updates the college basketball coaching carousel.

—Bobby Petrino is already making friends at the FCS level.

—El Ellis is ready to go.

—Jeff Walz sends a “postcard” from San Antonio.

—Malik Williams is hoping he won’t have to find a new roommate in 2021-22.

—After a fantastic first half, Bellarmine bowed out to Pepperdine in the semifinals of the CBI last night.

—Highlights from the Marist win:

—Louisville has been in contact with Marshall hooper Jarrod West, who entered the transfer portal on Tuesday.

—The Cards have also reached out to Indiana transfer Armaan Franklin.

—Dana Evans is a region finalist for 2021 WBCA NCAA Division I Coaches’ All-America.

—And finally, beat Northwestern.