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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Here’s hoping the salty Marches are behind us for a while.

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—Louisville sits at No. 20 in the latest Directors Cup standings.

—Last night’s Louisville-Kentucky softball game was postponed by weather.

—Sydney Curry showing off the benefits of getting that Jeep bag.

—Former Louisville hoops commit Bryce Hopkins is transferring from Kentucky after one season.

—Sam Vecenie of The Athletic updates his list of the best available players in college basketball.

—If you missed this video a couple of months ago, now is a good time to check it out.

—Wes Unseld Jr. talks about his father’s legacy, his path to becoming an NBA head coach, and the lessons he learned in his first season with the Wizards.

—The latest SB Nation WNBA Mock draft has Emily Engstler going No. 5 overall and Kianna Smith going 18th.

—It appears Mike Pegues is on the verge of landing on Patrick Ewing’s staff at Georgetown.

—Former U of L women’s basketball standout Becky Burke has accepted a gig as the new women’s head basketball coach at Buffalo.

—Major League Baseball is officially back today, and seven former Cardinals are on Big League rosters.

—Jeff Greer’s latest U of L hoops newsletter focuses on the importance of bringing in Nolan Smith.

Smith comes to Louisville with big responsibility, which is why U of L is “breaking the bank” to hire him, as my colleague Jeff Goodman reported. (I’ve heard estimates of a salary around $1 million, but we’ll find out soon enough.) He will be Payne’s right-hand man as associate head coach, with the former point guard’s hoops smarts, relationship-building and recruiting chops all being key attributes for the job. And it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that he would be joining a staff as the young gun with the 55-year-old Payne and the 59-year-old Wagner. That’s a critical element.

Now that the season is over, Louisville should be close to a place where it can announce the whole staff. Smith and Wagner joining the ranks means Payne has one more assistant spot to fill on his senior staff, plus the director of basketball operations job, strength training coach and any other additional support staff roles he might want to have. I’m fascinated to see how Payne lays out his organization.

As I wrote in previous newsletters, the structure — and composition — of Payne’s staff was an important part of his conversations with alumni, boosters and interim AD Josh Heird. The stakeholders in the coaching search wanted to ensure Payne had the resources and the backing to start on solid ground — and that Payne had a solid plan in place for hiring a staff.

Hiring Nolan Smith is a really good sign that Payne’s foundation is already quite strong.

—Less than one-quarter of the nation’s wealthiest college athletic departments say they have a plan in place to maximize the amount of money they can give to athletes this year by providing cash rewards for getting good grades.

—The Max Out Mindset podcast has a great interview with Louisville head volleyball coach Dani Busboom Kelly.

—Another great cartoon from the great Marc Murphy.

—Former UK commit Skyy Clark will make his college decision today at halftime of the 5:30 p.m. game of the State Champions Invitational on ESPNU. Clark is down to Illinois, Louisville, Tennessee, USC, Maryland, and Washington, but it would be a stunner if he picked anyone other than the Illini.

—The latest NCAA tournament projection from D1Baseball.com has Louisville as a top seed hosting a regional.

—Decent early list of potential suitors for Noah Locke.

—Louisville Report serves up an evaluation of new Cardinal football commit Jamari Johnson.

—Emily Engstler has signed on with SIG Sports agency.

—The U of L men’s tennis team rallied to defeat Notre Dame on Wednesday.

—Iona and Rick Pitino are headed to Albuquerque to take on New Mexico and Richard Pitino on December 18.

This will be Rick’s first game at The Pit since the Elite 8 comeback against West Virginia in 2005.

—It’s almost mid-April and there could be snow in Louisville this weekend.

—Louisville City moved into the third round of the U.S. Open Cup with a 1-0 win over Chattanooga on Wednesday night.

—And finally, class of 2023 RB Javin Simpkins has Louisville in his top five.