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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Salde says he’s been ready for this news and notes debut his whole life.

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—Spread check: Louisville by 2.5.

—When it faces Louisville on Saturday, Pitt will be without its starting left tackle.

—The Panthers will also be without WR Jaden Bradley, who abruptly announced Tuesday afternoon that he was entering the transfer portal. The Redshirt freshman is currently Pitt’s leader in touchdown receptions.

—The Athletic ranks all 131 FBS teams at the season’s midway point. Louisville is No. 83, sandwiched in between Georgia Tech and Louisiana.

—The Athletic’s Brian Hamilton has a good deep dive on the start of the Kenny Payne era at Louisville.

Likewise, former five-star prospect Brandon Huntley-Hatfield hopped in a car with Payne to head to dinner during an official visit. Huntley-Hatfield’s freshman year at Tennessee had been fraught with uncertain play, low confidence and poor results. Before they left the parking lot, Payne turned to his passenger. Be real, Payne said. Tell me what you want.

Huntley-Hatfield rattled off a list comprising a one-year layover at Louisville during which he’d be one of the best players in the country, followed by a spot in the NBA Draft lottery.

Let’s do it, Payne replied.

“After Tennessee, it was pretty hard for me to trust anybody,” Huntley-Hatfield says. “I felt he was being genuine. He’s put me in position to play to my strengths. He’s never told me what I can’t do.”

It’s maybe the first true test of Payne’s touch, to turn a 6-10, 250-pound specimen who looks the part into the genuine article. And it revolves around the concept of confidence. “If you can conquer yourself,” Payne says, “the opponent doesn’t matter.” He stops Wednesday’s practice an hour and a half in, bringing the group to midcourt to single out junior forward JJ Traynor. He asks everyone how far Traynor has come, and the consensus is: pretty far. Payne notes some people wanted him to cut Traynor loose. Not dedicated, they told him. Payne told them he’d make Traynor dedicated.

“You’re going to prove a lot of people wrong,” Payne tells Traynor. “Or I’m going to ride your ass like never before.”

Still, anything that happens this year is not an endgame. Heird wants Louisville men’s basketball to be among the top operations in the country. He’s also cognizant this may not occur by April. “For me, it’s about really putting a program together,” Heird says. “Not a good year.”

The work has only just begun.

“All I’m asking you to do is fight with all you got,” Payne says. “And when you get to that barrier, I’m creating another one. Knock that one down, I’m creating another one. Knock that one down, I’m creating another one. And then when you realize what has happened, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world. May not happen this year. Hope it does. May not. But I gotta have faith that it’s going to happen. And I believe that it’s going to happen. Actually, I know it’s going to happen.”

—Four-star U of L commit DeAndre Moore says he owes it to himself to at least consider Georgia and Texas, which is ... not comforting.

—Ken Pomeroy’s preseason ratings for the upcoming college basketball season have been set. Louisville checks in at No. 91, easily its lowest preseason ranking of the Pomeroy era.

—The Cards are ready to be back under the lights at Cardinal Stadium.

—The 11th-ranked U of L men’s soccer team played East Tennessee State to a 1-1 draw Tuesday night. The Cards will play their final home game of the regular season Friday night at 7 against reigning national champion Clemson.

—Evan Miyakawa’s preseason college hoops rankings have Louisville at No. 87.

—Saturday storylines from the Pitt’s game notes:

The Panthers play their first road game in more than a month when they face Louisville in Cardinal Stadium for an ACC Network primetime telecast.

Pitt has won seven consecutive away games dating back to the 2020 season, its longest road winning streak since the Dan Marino-led teams of 1980-82 won 13 consecutive away contests.

The Panthers boast the nation’s second-longest active road game winning streak, trailing only Georgia’s nine consecutive road wins.

Pitt last visited Louisville in 2011, when both teams were members of the Big East. The Panthers won that contest, 21-14.

The Panthers have defeated Louisville in six of the last seven encounters overall.

√ Since 2015, Pat Narduzzi has directed Pitt to 37 victories in ACC play, the third-highest win total during that span. The Panthers trail only Clemson (57) and Miami (38).

The Panthers are 11-3 over their last 14 ACC contests dating back to the 2020 season.

Israel Abanikanda leads the entire country with an average of 186.17 all-purpose yards per contest.

In his last outing, the All-America and Doak Walker Award candidate rushed for a Pitt-record 320 yards and six TDs against Virginia Tech.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Abanikanda joins LaDainian Tomlinson and Ricky Williams as the only players from current Power 5 programs to rush for 300 yards and score six rush touchdowns in a game over the last 25 seasons.

—Brett McMurphy’s latest bowl projections have Louisville taking on old rival Cincinnati in the Military Bowl.

—U of L volleyball coach Dani Busboom-Kelly met with the media on Tuesday before Scott Satterfield’s presser. You can check it out here.

—It wasn’t all bad for Will Smith last week.

—You can watch Pat Narduzzi’s pre-Louisville press conference here.

—Louisville will be squaring off against arguably the best defensive lineman in the ACC on Saturday when it faces Pitt’s Calijah Kancey. Kancey was named a Midseason All-American by CBS earlier this week. ESPN did the same.

—The Athletic has both Kancey and Pitt safety Erick Hallett II on its Midseason All-American squad.

—Let’s recapture that “bridge year” energy.

—Former Louisville WR Tyler Harrell still has yet to see the field for Alabama this season.

—Lance Tayor said Tuesday that Louisville’s offensive coaching staff is “starting to gel” and that it showed in the win over Virginia.

—Louisville field hockey is up to No. 4 in the latest coaches poll.

—Probably going to be a Broncos game.

—Seth Davis shares his preseason top 25 for the upcoming men’s college hoops season.

—”Raise Some L,” U of L’s day of giving, is off and running.

—The latest school test scores showed that Kentucky is lagging far behind most of the rest of the country, and that far too many of the state’s children don’t know how to read.

—Interesting stat.

—After a roller coaster first half of the season, Scott Satterfield and company are looking for more stability in the six weeks ahead.

—The Louisville football pass rush defense is on pace to be one of the best in school history, says State of Louisville.

—Good story from here on Dani Busboom Kelly’s status as a leader, a mom, and (potentially) the first woman coach to become a D-I volleyball national champion.

Meanwhile, the coach is beginning to appreciate her own role in her sport. Here’s the thing about NCAA women’s volleyball history: All the national champions have gone to male coaches. All 41. And another item. Louisville has had a quality women’s sports program but never a team national champion in anything.

So there are barriers to break. Busboom Kelly does not take that possibility lightly. Indeed, it has grown in her consciousness, and one reason is the baby boy at daycare this very morning.

“I would have said before that I was not against all that female hype but I wasn’t nearly as appreciative of it,” she says. “But now that I have a son it does mean a lot more to me to be a female that’s making headway in our sport, to show other women they can do it and you can have a family and be successful as a coach and work in this athletics world. So that’s changed a little bit. This year I think about it a lot more.

“The volleyball piece isn’t even that big of a deal to me. It’s more athletic department wide. Women’s athletics at Louisville have been so good for so long it’s crazy that we haven’t had a (team) national champion.”

Seven hours later, the house is nearly full at L&N Federal Credit Union Arena. Virginia Tech is in town and as the match nears, the music blares out the bugle you hear at the track calling the horses to the post. Well, Churchill Downs is less than two miles away.

Busboom Kelly’s coaching style is unusual. She is the CEO directing things from her chair. Long-time assistant Dan Meske is the action figure, always up and standing and calling out instructions. The Cardinals zip through two sets, drop a third, then put away the Hokies in the fourth. For Louisville, it pushes the record to 16-1 and is ACC win No. 36 in a row, but the coach is not happy.

“I’d rank that pretty low. Probably our worst game of the game,” she says. “We’ve talked a lot about just not taking any opponent for granted, every point matters and that didn’t show tonight. Maybe it’s a wake-up call.

“I hate playing this way, especially at home. You just lose a little bit of that momentum (drawing the home folks) any time you don’t put on a great show.”

She’s the best.

—David Teel writes that any significant expansion of the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments would be a huge mistake.

—Sydney Curry says he has more confidence heading into his second season as a Cardinal.

—This makes me very happy.

—As the 2022-23 NBA season begins, six former Cardinals are on league rosters.

—U of L OL commit Luke Burgess will be in for a visit this weekend.

—Scott County’s Buddy Collins, a sophomore who is already one of the top players in the state, will also be in town this weekend.

—This would be a major boost to the 2023 class.

—Deion Sanders says he has interest in coaching at a Power 5 program.

—U of L guard Chrislyn Carr has been named to the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is given to the top point guard in D1 women’s college basketball.

—Eric Crawford writes about what 5-star big man Aaron Bradshaw’s commitment to Kentucky means for Louisville.

—Get to know Hercy Miller:

— looks at the big storylines from around the ACC after week 7.

—Congrats to Louisville goalkeeper Sasha Elliott, who was named the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I National Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.

—Yasir rules.

—It’s been two years since their last ACC loss, and Louisville volleyball is still striving for perfection.

—Louisville has offered class of 2026 hoops standout Tyran Stokes. Stokes lives in California, but is a native of Louisville.

—Louisville guard Morgan Jones, a transfer from Florida State, is one of 20 watch list candidates for the 2023 Cheryl Miller Award.

—The AP’s Gary Graves writes about the challenges Kenny Payne is facing in his first year on the job at Louisville.

As if being a rookie head coach wasn’t challenging enough, Kenny Payne must rebuild a Louisville program where he was part of its storied past while learning the ropes.

It would be one thing if his task was limited to the court, where Payne must blend his few returning Cardinals with transfers and underclassmen. But he must also lead his team from the cloud of several scandals, with an independent panel deciding punishment for the latest allegations.

Reconnecting with a Louisville fan base tired of the drama is another part of the mission for Payne, who seems emboldened to restore his alma mater’s luster on all fronts. In due time.

“I want to establish a culture,” Payne said. “If I don’t establish a culture this year and I make this about wins and losses, I’m cheating the process. The culture is uncompromised and if it means that we lose, we lose.

“Then the next year we’ll be a little bit better, then the next year we’ll be a lot better, then the next year we’ll be ridiculous. I can’t let the pressure of sitting in this seat, being the head coach with everybody watching at a great institution with the pressure of winning, I can’t let it overcome me.”

—The CJ has three things to know ahead of Saturday’s Louisville-Pitt game.

—The latest bowl projections from College Sports Madness have Louisville taking on Jeff Brohm and Purdue in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

—El Ellis, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and JJ Traynor will be the three participants in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest at Louisville Live.

—And finally, the Mike Rutherford Show returns for another Weird Wednesday episode this afternoon from 3-6 on 1450/96.1. You can stream it here.