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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Still not over ‘99. Eat it, Army.

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—Because of bad weather entering the area this afternoon/evening, first pitch for tonight’s series opener between Louisville and Virginia has been moved up from 6 p.m. to 4 p.m. Here’s a preview of the monster three days ahead for the Cardinal Nine.

—The latest NCAA tournament projection from D1baseball.com has the Cards as the tournament’s No. 8 overall seed.

—Nick Saban vs. Jimbo Fisher has become one of the more incredible offseason feuds I’ve seen in sports.

Shot:

Chaser:

Best tweet:

‘Bama hosts Tecas A&M on Oct. 8.

—In a stunning turn of events, the NCAA has recently announced some smart decisions that figure to enhance the college football product.

—U of L has been selected as the host site of the 2023 ACC Indoor Track Championships.

—BetOnline’s first week 1 college football odds have Louisville as a 4-point road favorite over Syracuse.

—There are still some spots to fill, but both Sydney Curry and El Ellis feel good about Louisville’s roster at the present moment.

—Ellis is also the guest on the latest episode of Jeff Greer’s podcast.

—Would you like to watch a video of every game-winning shot/buzzer from the 2021-22 men’s college basketball season? If the answer is yes, you can make that happen now.

—This summer’s “The Basketball Tournament” will feature a game at Rucker Park.

—The Athletic tackles the biggest sports story of the day: How Happy Gilmore became a generational staple of comedy and comfort.

—An official in Japan mistakenly wired a rural town’s entire Covid relief budget, nearly $360,000, to a single man. After promising to return the cash, the man instead gambled it away in online casinos.

Look, you’re either hot or you’re due. I get it.

—Happy birthday, king.

—The Louisville men’s golf team ended its season with a seventh-place finish Wednesday at the Norman Regional. The top five teams from the regional advance to the NCAA Championships. The Cards will return seven players next season, including All-ACC performer Jiri Zuska.

—Ricky O’Donnell makes the case for Paolo Banchero as the No. 1 pick in this June’s NBA draft.

—Racing Louisville gave easily its best performance of the young season Wednesday night, taking down previously unbeaten San Diego.

—The game’s lone goal landed on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays this morning.

—Congrats to U of L rugby’s Dan Hanson and Angelo Eklou on being named First Team All-MAC. The Cards (a club team at U of L) will begin their play in Nationals on Saturday, May 25th at 1:50pm against Iowa State. The game will be carried live on CBS Sports Network.

—The Football Writers Association of America has named Louisville one of its 11 schools with the best SID teams in the country for the 2021 season.

—Cardinal field hockey has added Malachi Mahan as an assistant coach.

—We are officially 100 days out from the start of the 2022 college football season. To celebrate, 247 Sports names the 100 biggest impact true freshman for the season. Louisville’s Popeye Williams makes the cut.

Popeye Williams, EDGE, Louisville

247Sports Composite: No. 177

The Cardinals return one of the ACC’s best in Yasir Abdullah at ‘Dog’ linebacker (stand-up, edge rusher). But the rest of the Cardinals’ linebackers are unproven, which provides Popeye Williams a runway to see immediate playing time. And Williams has the skill set to force that to occur. Williams plays with a high level of effort and showed a quick-twitch explosiveness in high school that should allow him to contribute as a pass rusher the moment he steps on campus.

—Racing Louisville star Nadia Nadim is the guest on the latest episode of The Women’s Game podcast.

—Duke’s Joey Baker is in the transfer portal.

—RIP to a Louisville legend.

—Marc Weinberg breaks down the storm situation for this afternoon/evening.

—Jeff Greer’s latest newsletter looks heavily at Louisville’s current (very tall) roster as well as El Ellis’ enhanced role for next season.

What about the other quote? A few days after I wrote about what Ellis’s role would be for Louisville and why cementing that will have a big impact on how the rest of the backcourt is built, he detailed to me on this week’s Floyd Street’s Finest what his conversation with Payne was like. Louisville’s new coaching staff wants the ball in his hands — much more than he had last season.

“They’re going to be depending on me,” Ellis told me. “I’m going to have to be that leader. I’m going to have to be that point guard who is an extension of the coach on the floor. That’s what I wanted to hear. I didn’t hear that coming in. I just came here off the strength of it being Louisville. It was in the ACC, a big-time program. … I’m going to be that guy, have the ball in my hands.”

We could unpack a lot there, but let’s focus on the role Ellis discussed with Payne. Ellis expects to play point guard, but he also likes the idea of having another ballhandler sharing the backcourt with him. That’s why I keep going back to Malachi Smith, who to me is the best fit of the transfer options. Tyrese Hunter is a really good player, but he’ll need the ball in his hands to be the facilitator and penetrator he would need to be because he is not a good enough shooter to impact the game as much off the ball. Smith can play both guard spots, facilitate, score and guard bigger opposing guards. Plus, he is an elite rebounder for his position and a better shooter than Hunter. Hunter, though, is a fantastic defender. Maybe that out-front defensive tenacity outweighs the other stuff. Maybe it’s not either/or. We’ll find out.

In the meantime, we got some answers to last week’s column question. Ellis expects to be the lead guard, the guy facilitating, the guy running the show. That helps us a lot in figuring out how this team will be made up.

Another good note from Ellis during our talk: He has two years of eligibility left. So does Sydney Curry, then. I changed their statuses on the scholarships chart. If all goes well for them this coming season, I don’t think they’ll return to school, but it helps to know what their options are.

—Cardinal Authority previews this weekend’s series on the diamond against Virginia.

—Michael Bush is now officially a Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

—Seems pretty good.

—A fresh look at the current Louisville women’s basketball roster.

—Kenny Payne thinks a fully focused and dedicated Sydney Curry could be a beast for the Cards next winter.

—Props to Kory and the whole team here, who continue to do tremendous work on the video side.

Here’s hoping the product on the court can start living up to their excellence.

—Cavaliers Now says this week’s series at Jim Patterson is “pivotal” for both teams.

—Kenny Payne’s recent comments about Kentucky and John Calipari certainly support the notion that we are entering a gentler, friendlier era of the rivalry ... at least between the coaches.

—Just win the game.

—The Louisville Bats dropped a 7-4 decision to the Nashville Sound Wednesday night.

—And finally, Louisville Report’s Matt McGavic will join me in studio for today’s Mike Rutherford Show from 3-6 on 1450 The Big X. Text your show questions to the Thornton’s Text Line at 502-414-1450. You can stream the show here.