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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

The Cards are coming for the Middies this hoops season.

—Both Dominique Yates and Cam Teague believe Malik Cunningham is the most important player for Louisville in 2021.

—CBS lists Ole Miss as one of the most undervalued teams in college football for 2021.

—Hoops Insight takes a deep dive into Mason Faulkner (do we still do phrasing?).

He’s put up numbers, but not against quality teams

Faulkner began his career at Northern Kentucky and transferred to Western Carolina for his junior and senior years. I am honestly not certain how his status as a former transfer impacts his ability to play this season, or if he would qualify as a grad transfer. The NCAA had set a deadline of July 1 for players to announce their intentions to transfer and be eligible immediately this season. Technically Faulkner did that (to transfer to Colorado) and then reopened his options. For the purposes of this article, I’ll assume he picks UofL and is approved to play immediately this season, although I honestly have no idea what the NCAA rules are around that or if they even enforce anything anymore.

After transferring to Western Carolina, Faulkner blossomed. He averaged over 17 points per game and 5.5 assists per game as a Catamount, with a solid 49% effective FG% with a usage rate of over 27%. His teams didn’t have a lot of success, but Faulkner assisted on over 30% of his teammates baskets and drew a ton of fouls. Last season he even hit 36% of his threes and 51% of his twos, so on the surface he seems to bring a lot to the table. But looking more carefully, I noticed a troubling trend.

Faulkner really struggled overall the past 2 seasons when playing quality teams. His numbers took a big hit in some key areas.

Faulkner’s teams were bad (ranked 156th and 241st in KenPom the last 2 seasons), so it could be the case that teams just loaded up to stop him. It’s also certainly not a crime for a player to play worse against better teams, although his performance against top 100 teams is a pretty steep dropoff. The biggest red flag to me is that Louisville is going to play a ton of games against top 100 teams, and it seems based on these numbers that he might struggle with the adjustment.

When I see data like this, it makes me want to inquire as to 1) what was happening in these games, and 2) how useful it actually is to look at these splits for transfer guards. So, let’s do that!

—Manual High basketball star Damone King was on U of L’s campus on Thursday.

—Louisville Report identifies five breakout candidates for the 2021 Louisville football season.

—The CJ also lists five breakout candidates.

—U of L checks in at No. 23 here.

—Hailey Van Lith has signed an NIL representation deal with Octagon.

—Sacred Heart’s Carrie Beckman was named the national high school girls tennis player of the year at last night’s USA Today High School Sports Awards.

—Former Cardinal soccer star and No. 1 MLS draft pick Andrew Farrell is still getting it done for the New England Revolution.

—The ACC Digital Network ranks Hassan Hall as the league’s best return man.

—There are new Cardinal football jerseys available on the U of L auction site.

—Making the Madness is already out with its list of the 100 best players in college basketball for 2021-22. No Louisville players make the list.

—Jordan Sperber showing Scotty D some love here.

—College hoops writer Jordan Majewski previews the MAAC and says Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels are the unquestioned team to beat.

—Fifteen Spirit Airlines flights have been canceled in Louisville over the past two days, and officials with the company say more could be coming this weekend.

—Lake day 2021 is in the books for the Louisville men’s basketball team.

—Both U of L and UK have announced that they will require masks for all indoor activities at the start of their fall semesters.

—The sold out Railbird Music Festival in Lexington will now require attendees to show either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test from the last 72 hours.

—Friday Irrelevance:

—State of Louisville gets to know class of 2022 Louisville women’s basketball commit Alexia Mobley.

—Tim Sullivan writes that time serves should count for something whenever Louisville finally receives its punishment from the NCAA.

“Sitting in purgatory is tough on everyone involved with the universities,” U of L athletic director Vince Tyra said Thursday. “Especially those head coaches that have to recruit for years under the shadow of what may or may not happen. Not to mention the financial burden of that same shadow.”

The longer it lasts, the more ruinous the ripples.

In announcing changes to the IARP Wednesday, the NCAA acknowledged that the Complex Case Unit’s duplication of enforcement staff efforts was largely responsible for the delays. Henceforth, the Complex Case Unit will accept the enforcement staff’s findings rather than re-investigate cases unless it can “demonstrate a compelling reason why additional investigation is required.”

The NCAA expects streamlining the process in this way will serve to speed it up. After almost four years of waiting, it’s about time.

—Lou City will face Sporting KC II for the third time in five weeks on Saturday night.

—And finally, happy one-month until kickoff day. Enjoy the weekend.