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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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That March feeling.

NET Rankings Update: No. 50 (down one).

—The CJ’s Shannon Russell looks at what’s at stake for Louisville on Saturday against Virginia.

—Louisville Report looks at the points of emphasis for Louisville vs. UVA.

—The shot chart from the Duke game looks much, much better than some of the ones we’ve seen in recent weeks.

—For a number of reasons, college recruiting appears to be on the brink of chaos.

—Luke McCaffrey has officially been added to the U of L football roster.

—The U of L softball team will host the Cardinal Classic this weekend.

—Jim Boeheim remains the angriest calm person in America.

—Four Louisville track and field athletes have qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

—After seeming to have one of the more secure jobs in the country, the heat is turning up on Mike Brey in South Bend.

Until the end, when a chant that likely wasn’t on the cheer card commenced. With a fourth straight lackluster effort of a loss about 20 seconds and counting away — 80-69 to North Carolina State — the section of students did something that it never before has done. It turned on the head coach. It turned on Mike Brey.

Thus, the weighted words from Section 115.

“Fire...Brey!”

“Fire...Brey!”

Had students not been allowed in Wednesday, Brey and the Irish (9-14 overall; 6-11 ACC) would’ve walked off the floor to only the hum of the generic crowd noise piped through the arena speakers. Had this been a normal home game in a normal world with close to the 9,149 capacity in the blue seats, that chant would’ve been drowned out by the band and other catcalls from the remaining crowd. Heck, had this been a normal game in a normal time, the students would’ve long ago left, likely when the Irish deficit hit 19 in the second half.

Instead, they stayed and their chant was a whole lot loud and a whole lot uncomfortable. Anyone who insists they didn’t hear it or couldn’t tell what the students were saying wasn’t there. Or listening. The fans heard it. The players heard it. The media heard it. Brey heard it.

“Fire...Brey!”

“That was well-warranted by our students,” Brey said with his usual candor. “That was a poor performance. They should have been on me.”

What happens beyond this season, which cannot end soon enough, likely won’t be for Brey to decide. Finish the next two weeks, and then what? Another year? Or time to live the good life? Parachute to Florida first, and then to a television gig?

“I’m committed here,” Brey said. “Certainly, committed to this group, how it finishes for us this year.”

But what about next year? What about the remaining years on his contract, which runs through 2024-25? Last spring, when the pandemic was just beginning, the 61-year-old Brey insisted he had every intention of finishing out his current deal, and maybe coaching beyond that. Here or elsewhere.

—Forecastle Festival has been canceled for a second straight year.

—Bobby Miller pitching to Will Smith last night was pretty cool.

—The U of L men’s tennis team will face No. 1 North Carolina on Friday and Duke on Sunday.

—Scott Davenport was somehow not named the Atlantic Sun’s Coach of the Year despite taking the team that was picked to finish last in the league and getting them within one win of a regular season conference title in the program’s first year as a Division-I member. That award instead went to Liberty’s Ritchie McKay, the coach of the team everyone expected to win the league, and the coach of a program with an athletic budget more than double Bellarmine’s.

Absurd.

—The Knights did, however, get some national TV love Wednesday night.

BU plays its first Atlantic Sun tournament game tonight at 7 against Stetson.

—U of L baseball kicks off ACC play with a three-game set this weekend against Georgia Tech.

—Louisville has offered a running back from Bilal Powell’s alma mater.

—The latest installment of Jeff Greer’s Floyd Street Tribune is out.

The Jae’Lyn Withers we saw for a few minutes at North Carolina, plus a full game against Notre Dame and a large chunk at Duke — that’s the Jae’Lyn Withers I grew to expect after watching him as a high school prospect.

Withers is 6-9 with long arms and a skillset that perfectly fits the modern power forward. He can step out to the 3-point line, where he is a respectable 6 of 17 this season. He can face up and drive on defenders as a capable ballhandler. He can create for teammates. This is all in addition to being an active rebounder and effective scorer around the rim.

Yet tasked with packing muscle onto his frame and playing center instead of power forward with Malik Williams out, Withers put on inconsistent performances — some games he was really dialed in, some games he looked downright uncomfortable. When Williams, the more experienced center, returned for Louisville for those two and a half games, Withers flourished. He moved back to power forward and showed off his athleticism and face-up skillset. He looked confident, relieved to not have to prowl the baseline, automatically run to the blocks or set the majority of screens in the pick-and-roll. In the two fully competitive games with Williams back, Withers scored 28 points and grabbed 22 rebounds, making 3 of 5 from 3-point range.

There is no question Williams re-injuring his foot leaves Louisville with a huge hole from the leadership standpoint. Williams’s skillset, especially on defense, changed the entire complexion of the Cardinals, too. But the negative impact extends to Withers, who is now tasked with playing center again. It’s up to Chris Mack to figure out how to continue to get Withers the opportunities he had with Williams in the lineup … with Williams now out of the lineup.

The challenge going forward — the same challenge Louisville had prior to Williams returning — is finding a way to get Withers in situations like the two clips below while also generating post-ups and interior scoring threats to balance the floor. Perhaps we’ll see some of Withers and JJ Traynor together, a pairing Mack likely hasn’t used much out of fear of foul trouble for his two primary centers.

—Pat Forde puts his life on the line by writing about John Calipari vs. the state of Kentucky.

—Carlik Jones did not make the latest cut for the Naismith Award.

—Louisville volleyball’s scheduled match against Virginia Tech on Friday has been postponed. The Cards will now host Wake Forest on March 6 at 2 p.m. and March 7 at 2 p.m.

—Not awesome.

—Ethan the rescue dog has found his permanent home.

A proposal from the Baltimore Ravens to the NFL could totally how the league handles overtime.

—Love a good March magic story off the court.

Big shoutout to Jerrod.

—Three former Cards have been invited to the 2021 NFL combine.

—The Augusta Free Press uses the dreaded “must-win” language when talking about Louisville’s situation this weekend.

—Yet another paying basketball league for teenagers has popped up.

We’ll see if this one fares better than its predecessors.

—The Athletic has a feature on Louisvillian Kiyaunta Goodwin, who has become one of the most sought after offensive line recruits in the country.

—Four-star WR and elite track and field star Isaiah Sategna out of Arkansas has received an offer from U of L.

—Love this.

—Pete Thamel looks at the college basketball coaching carousel that lies ahead.

—Last night in the ACC:

No. 11 Florida State 93, Boston College 64
Syracuse 64, Clemson 54
NC State 80, Notre Dame 69

No games on the slate for tonight.

—If Louisville beats Virginia on Saturday, they will almost certainly be the No. 3 seed for the ACC tournament. If they lose, they’re likely to be the 6 or 7. Either way, we’re probably going to be in the night window.

—Unlike Louisville, Virginia appears to be pretty much locked into the No. 2 seed regardless of what happens on Saturday.

—Donovan Mitchell and Montrezl Harrell both had some issues with the NBA officiating Wednesday night.

—And finally, beat Wake Forest.