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Monday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

The Cardinal kids never lost the faith.

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—Spread checK (football): Clemson by 7.

—It’s opening night for the U of L women’s basketball team, which will face Cincinnati at 5 p.m. on the ACC Network. Here’s a preview.

—The 5 p.m. start time might not be ideal, but it’s pretty cool that the ladies are kicking off an opening night triple header that also included the two ACC men’s teams (Duke and North Carolina) that made the Final Four last season.

—Every single men’s basketball team in the preseason AP top 25 poll is in action on opening day/night. None of them are less than a double-digit favorite.

—There are some $10 tickets available for Wednesday night’s men’s basketball season-opener against Bellarmine.

—Hailey Van Lith is using her elevated platform to promote women’s sports, philanthropy and basketball.

—Explosive plays are the new name of the game.

—Brett McMurphy’s latest bowl projections have Louisville taking on Oregon State in the Sun Bowl.

—Isaac Trotter of 247 Sports predicts Kamari Lands to be an All-ACC freshman at season’s end.

—Class of 2024 DL Deyvid Palepale was impressed by the environment and the coaches during his visit to U of L.

—Despite a disappointing final stretch of the regular season, the Louisville field hockey team is headed to the NCAA tournament.

The Cards will take on Penn State Friday afternoon at 2:30. You can view the full tournament bracket here.

—The Athletic’s men’s college hoops staff make their predictions on who will win the national championship this season. The leading vote getter? Houston.

—BucketHatism is back with a recap of the win over James Madison.

—According to Wrestling-World, Kentucky is the second-most professional wrestling obsessed state in the country.

—Jeff Greer’s latest U of L hoops newsletter is reacting to the IARP news from last week.

All that freedom will make it a lot easier for U of L to rebuild. But that’s a key word: This is a rebuild. Louisville has a reputation to repair, especially on the recruiting trail, where the Cards don’t have recent success to point to and, until yesterday, didn’t even know if they would — for sure — be postseason eligible in the near future. Louisville also has work to do with its own community, something that became clear during the coaching search, when doubts about money, support and even interest lingered in some corners. The five years of uncertainty — five years of questions about how clean the program is — dogged U of L’s booster base and dirtied its reputation. Some of that is quantifiable, much of it isn’t.

Everything fed everything else. The FBI announcement put the university in a tough spot with Rick Pitino, ultimately resulting in his dismissal. The off-court drama regularly hurt team morale. The lack of success led to fewer fans at games. Relationships fractured. A new coach came in without fully realizing just how much murky water there was, then he did himself no favors in navigating it all, leading to his own departure and even more drama.

Now comes the heavy lifting. Heird and Payne both seem crystal clear on that need for healing, evidenced by their consistent efforts the past few months to get in front of as many people as possible to talk about repairing relationships, building a strong foundation, enhancing trust through action, etc. Those are difficult but necessary conversations, prompted in no small part by five years of doubt and uncertainty. As Payne said Thursday night after his team’s narrow exhibition win over Chaminade, he can now move on from asking parents and recruits to trust his word that everything will be OK … to actually having hard evidence that Louisville is in the clear.

Time served is time lost. That’s a painful truth, especially in the rapid-moving world of college sports and, in particular, college basketball. Decay can build. Just ask my alma mater, which went from a regular contender for Big East titles to an ACC afterthought in just seven years.

The good news, however, is that Louisville isn’t starting from scratch, with the resources and capable leaders in place to build back, a community largely invested in helping and the history of success and pride to draw from. And it has a player directly connected to very core of the program’s tradition working on returning the team to its powerful perch in college basketball. Payne may not get the Cards there. Or he may just need a while. Either way, the weight is off his shoulders, and Louisville men’s basketball is fighting with two hands again.

—Preston Brown is the guest on the latest episode of the Cardinal Sports Zone podcast.

—The 5th-ranked U of L volleyball team took care of both NC State and North Carolina over the weekend.

—Your weekly helping of Rueben Owens highlights.

—U of L WR commit DeAndre Moore spent the weekend on an official visit to Georgia.

—ESPN’s FPI have Louisville football at No. 23 this week. The Sagarin Ratings have the Cards at No. 22.

—Louisville Report looks at the points of emphasis for Wednesday night’s hoops opener against Bellarmine.

—Carter Bryant seemed to enjoy his official visit to U of L.

—The CJ wonders outloud what “success” would mean in Kenny Payne’s first season with the Cards.

—All Clemson of the Fansided network has five storylines for the Tigers heading into Louisville week.

—Swish Appeal previews the women’s basketball season in the ACC.

—If you haven’t heard of ZaKiyah Johnson yet, you will soon.

—Matt McGavic serves up his final thoughts on the James Madison win.

—James Madison players share their thoughts on the loss to the Cards.

—And finally, beat Cincinnati.