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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Cardinal kids are ready to stay up past their bedtimes and root for a win tonight in Boston.

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—Spread check: Boston College by 9.5.

—Brandon Huntley-Hatfield is “doubtful” to return to the court soon for the Cards.

—Louisville freshman QB Pierce Clarkson has been named the CIF Southern Section Offensive Player of the Year for the 2022 season.

—A.J. Black of 247 Sports likes BC to take care of the Cards by five tonight.

—”Is this bad?” part 8,567.

—The U of L women’s basketball team’s game against Clemson on Sunday, Feb. 12 has been moved from a 6 p.m. start to a 2 p.m. start.

—The ACCDN breaks down (video) the ACC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year race, which features Hailey Van Lith.

—Pat Forde dives into the woes of basketball in the Bluegrass State this season.

To have plummeted from No. 1 to No. 296 in 37 months is almost inconceivable. The cloud of scandal and threat of crushing sanctions likely played a factor in recruiting misses, but other programs ensnared in the FBI scandal (notably Arizona and Kansas) did just fine during that time. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are trying to dig a passage out of rock bottom.

First-time head coach Kenny Payne, a likable former Louisville player who replaced Mack and has become an unwitting lightning rod for a divided fan base, got the job primarily for the following reasons: his reputation as a recruiting force while working for nemesis John Calipari at Kentucky; his ties to the program’s glory days under Denny Crum; and the glaring fact that an urban program with a proud Black heritage on the court and within the fan base had nothing but white coaches throughout its existence.

Heeding a groundswell of support from the Black community and former players, athletic director Josh Heird hired Payne and hoped his lack of head-coaching inexperience was surmountable. To date, it is not. Payne has so far failed to demonstrate any strategic or motivational command, raising questions about how much actual coaching he did in 10 years under Calipari. After inheriting a mess of a roster, he was unable to work a rapid makeover (unlike, say, fellow first-year coach Jerome Tang at Kansas State). The Cardinals have hit the grand slam of dysfunction: poor coaching, poor talent, poor chemistry, poor effort.

“It’s not even a scrappy group that fights hard,” Caroline Deeley says.

As the Cardinals submitted rather meekly against Pitt, the fans followed suit. Down 14 with 8:55 to play, a few began quietly filing out before the exodus started in earnest at the 5:00 mark. There were more shrugs than boos, a once-fiery fan base now seemingly resigned.

—The Louisville men’s track and field team is No. 18 in the USTFCCCA National Team Rankings

—Four decades in, Bill Raftery is still grinding (Athletic link).

—Louisville is getting 40/1 preseason odds from BetOnline to win the 2023 College World Series.

—Emoni Bates went off for 43 last night in a loss to Toledo. His team stinks (4-16), but Bates has still become one of the better stories of the college basketball season.

—The Takeover Sports Network discusses ACC storylines, including whether or not Kenny Payne should get a second season at U of L.

—Brooks Holton of the Courier Journal tells the story of how Emmanuel Okorafor came to be a Louisville Cardinal.

Payne and assistant coach Nolan Smith got a chance to scout Okorafor in person when NBA Academy Africa traveled to Las Vegas in December to participate in the Tarkanian Classic and the NBA G League’s Winter Showcase.

Was there any thought of targeting a guard to add depth on the perimeter? Payne acknowledged the glaring need but said Okorafor was “the guy that was available that could come and do this.”

“We watched a bunch of film on a bunch of different guys, and he came across the best and as somebody that could help us right away, someone that could come into school right away and start his clock,” he said. “It was intriguing, and I did a bunch of homework on him — talked to a bunch of different people.”

Payne wasn’t alone.

“A lot of schools were interested in Emmanuel, but he wasn’t really focused on it,” Traore told The Courier Journal. “He was just focused on getting better and not being distracted by all the attention. I can’t really name a lot of the schools that were interested in him, but we know he had a lot of options on the table.”

So, what made Louisville stand out? Okorafor told ESPN’s Leonard Solms on Jan. 20 he was inspired to follow in the footsteps of Jordan Nwora, who hails from Buffalo, New York, but is of Nigerian descent.

“He left a big legacy there in Louisville,” said Okorafor, who is the 17th NBA Academy Africa prospect to commit to a Division I program. “Him being a Nigerian makes me realize that I can do great things at Louisville.”

—Trinity freshman Jayden Johnson is already drawing significant interest from both Kenny Payne and John Calipari.

—Jeff Brohm has offered three-star athlete Tysean Griffin (2024) from Morgan Park in Chicago, the same high school that produced Wayne Blackshear (and Dean Portman from Mighty Ducks 2).

—It appears as though Josh Minkins underwent successful surgery at the beginning of the week.

—The CJ takes a closer look at Jeff Brohm’s first full U of L coaching staff.

—The construction on the entrance to Jim Patterson Stadium appears to be coming along nicely.

—You won’t see either of these bad boys outside of the dugout this season, as home run props have been banned on the field by the NCAA starting this season. Dumb.

—Rick Bozich writes about Louisville’s passing woes.

—There are lots of local dogs and puppies who need good homes. Here’s how you can help.

—The latest episode of the From the Pink Seats podcast is here.

—There are a lot of graphs and charts about Louisville basketball that are floating around at the moment. This might be the most jarring.

—Trinity punter Carter Schwartz is eyeing an opportunity with Louisville.

—Former Male High and Wake Forest star Chris Barclay is happy to be back home as a part of Jeff Brohm’s first U of L staff.

—This clip from Jeff Greer’s latest podcast has made the rounds over the last 48 hours or so.

I’d love nothing more than to be able to disagree with Jeff on every point, but I can’t.

—Louisville is the latest school to offer highly-touted Florida RB Jordan Lyle.

—BC Interruption previews tonight’s game in Chestnut Hill.

—And finally, beat Boston College.