clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

The 2021 Summer Tour hits The Netherlands.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

—Donovan Mitchell went off for 45 to lead the Jazz to a Game One win over the Clippers on Tuesday night.

—TNT cameras caught Donovan telling his teammates that the Clippers would fold in the fourth quarter, and then he went out and made it happen.

—Dwyane Wade says Mitchell is one of the biggest reasons he decided to get into ownership with the Utah Jazz.

How much did Donovan Mitchell play into all of this?

A lot. He played a lot into it. That’s my little brother. I’ve definitely taken a big brother role in his life. To have that relationship with him and to know it’s going to continue, it feels good. It feels right. It’s so cool, man. I get to continue to impart my knowledge of the game to him. He’s already 24 years old and he’s got a lot more growth to do and he’s already a critical player in our league. So, I’m excited about giving back whatever I’ve learned to him so his career will be greater than mine ever was. And that’s the goal, you’ve got to make sure the generations to come are greater. Right? That’s how the game moves forward.

Your love of Donny has made a few people upset, though. Bam Adebayo says you’ve been taking too long to answer his texts now.

[Laughs] Yeahhhh. He got on me hard about that. It’s just jokes. It’s all love. He did text me, and I didn’t text him back and that’s what he was on me about, but I didn’t even look at my texts at that time. It’s tough because I’m a mentor to a lot of guys, a teammate to a lot of guys, but I’m jumping into ownership. I’m gonna keep the relationship with certain guys, but I try not to cross that line. I want those guys to keep our relationship exactly how it was and never look at me as someone who’s in ownership, or someone trying to recruit or trying to do anything. That’s my little brother, Bam. Just like Don. I’m always gonna be there for any information I can pass along in the game of basketball or in business.

—New U of L grad transfer guard Jarrod West will meet with the media for a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon at 1.

—Chris Trepasso of CBS looks at what Lamar Jackson must do to regain his MVP form.

—I’ll never stop being bitter that we came out of this era with one NCAA tournament win and zero 10-win football seasons.

—Class of 2023 combo guard London Johnson will take an unofficial visit to U of L early next week.

—Louisville Report names the top Cardinal performers of 2020-21 in each sport.

—Decent list.

—The CJ hands out some superlatives for the 2020-21 U of L athletic season.

—The Athletic’s Matthew Gutierrez serves up a helping of offseason ACC basketball power rankings and has Louisville at No. 6.

6. Louisville

Potential starters: Malik Williams, Noah Locke (transfer), Samuell Williamson, Jarrod West (transfer), Dre Davis

Bench: Gabe Wiznitzer, Matt Cross (transfer), J.J. Traynor, Roosevelt Wheeler (freshman), Mike James (freshman), Elbert Ellis (transfer)

Like the majority of the ACC, Louisville has experienced significant roster turnover. But Chris Mack and company shouldn’t have to worry much about the bubble this year, with Malik Williams back, Marshall transfer Jarrod West inbound and former five-star recruit Samuell Williamson due for a potential breakout. West was a four-year starter at Marshall who averaged 12.5 points on 40.8 percent shooting from 3 last season.

The Cardinals struggled with offensive efficiency last season but won with team defense and rebounding. Both may improve with a larger frontcourt. The health of Williams will say a lot about how far this team goes, while top recruits Noah Locke and Elbert Ellis might compete for David Johnson’s spot in the backcourt.

Taken together, the Cardinals made good progress via the transfer portal and added two top-100 recruits. And despite having essentially all underclassmen a year ago, with no true big, the Cards went 13-7 and finished in the KenPom top 60. Not easy in this league. With some key returnees, Mack has a deep and versatile roster that should get this program back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in his tenure.

Seems like a mistake to not even mention Jae’Lyn Withers, but whatever.

—Nike has announced that this year’s EYBL will be held from July 13-19 in North Augusta, SC, and the Peach Jam Tournament will take place from July 20-25.

—Only eight Power Five programs have lost more transfers this offseason than Louisville.

—After a year off, the KHSAA Track and Field State Championships will return this week.

—Male High WR Vinny Anthony talks about his unofficial visit to U of L.

—A new beer fest is coming to the Frazier History Museum.

—There is a large part of me that wants to drive to Wyoming and ruin this guy’s year.

I don’t understand how you could search for and find my email without discovering that I’m not the long-haired dude from Genesis.

—The way to win in college basketball may now include (Athletic link) analytics, transfer portal experts and brand managers.

—ESPN’s Bill Connelly previews (Insider) the ACC Atlantic Division.

Louisville’s last four seasons: eight wins, then two, then eight, then four. It has been a roller coaster, but stats suggest third-year coach Scott Satterfield has the Cardinals on the right track.

2021 Projections

Projected SP+ rank: 47th

Projected win total: 7.0 (4.6 in the ACC)

Likely wins*: Eastern Kentucky (97%), Syracuse (84%), at Duke (80%), Boston College (66%)

Relative toss-ups: Virginia (62%), Kentucky (62%), at Wake Forest (56%), at Florida State (52%), UCF (50%), at NC State (43%)

Likely loss: vs. Ole Miss (34%), Clemson (14%)

The Cardinals’ close-games luck has bounced all over the place of late, and guess what: It appears there are lots more close games on the horizon this year!

What we learned about Louisville in 2020

The god of close games is finicky. In 2019, the Cardinals improved from 98th to 63rd in SP+ and from 1-9 to 5-5 in games decided by more than one score. In 2020, they jumped again, to 35th in SP+ and 4-3. Sounds great, right?

One extra detail: They were 4-0 in one-score games in 2019 and 0-3 last year. They “improved” but went from eight wins to four.

The Cardinals were quite a bit better than their record but were done in by terrible turnovers luck and, at times, shoddy special teams play. They have to replace more production than many in the ACC, but with even neutral close-games luck, they should have enough quality to bowl again.

What we didn’t learn about Louisville in 2020

What does the new skill corps have to offer? QB Malik Cunningham is dynamic with both his arm and legs, but receivers Dez Fitzpatrick and Tutu Atwell are gone, as is running back Javian Hawkins. They keyed one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and even with the luxury of an experienced O-line, UL could struggle without big-play bailout options. Can exciting youngsters like RB Jalen Mitchell and WR Jordan Watkins shoulder that burden?

Whether the defense will start picking up the slack at some point. Louisville improved to 75th in defensive SP+; that’s not great, but it was the Cards’ best ranking since 2017. The pass rush still needs major improvement — and could get it from Southern Miss transfer Jacques Turner — while the linebacking corps loses key playmakers, and corner Kei’Trei Clark is the only of the secondary’s top four players returning. New defensive coordinator Bryan Brown, Satterfield’s former DC at Appalachian State, will have to coax quality out of quite a few new starters.

—CBS reacts to the Luke McCaffrey transfer news.

—Practice videos back.

—The story of new Racing Louisville FC signee Nadia Nadim is extraordinary.

—Fresh Kimble is the latest former Cardinal to agree to play on the 3-Time Champs TBT squad.

—And finally, today’s Senate Commerce Committee on NIL and the NCAA made it painfully apparent that, at least for the time being, states are clearly in charge and the NCAA has no plan how to handle it.