—NET Rankings Update: No. 329 (up 6!).
—Highlights from last night’s win over Georgia Tech are here.
—The latest Floyd Street Tribune newsletter discusses the win over the Jackets and the development of next season’s roster.
Kaleb Glenn seems like a logical candidate to start next season, at least with the roster as it’s currently constructed. Mike James also seems like a sure-fire starter, and Kamari Lands can be a player in time. Curtis Williams and JJ Traynor are nice pieces in an eight- or nine-man rotation. That’s five rotation guys.
The questions I have revolve around the big men and the ballhandler(s).
El Ellis said on my podcast before the season that he anticipated this being his last year in school. I’d like to re-confirm that he and Sydney Curry could return for another season if they wanted, but I believe that is the case. After the past two seasons, no one would blame them for moving on to pursue professional opportunities. Roosevelt Wheeler, Jae’Lyn Withers and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield also have two more years of eligibility left after this season. I’d be curious about their future plans, too.
Nevertheless, even with the previous paragraph laying out several big questions, we’re right back where this thing started last spring: Louisville needs ballhandling, playmaking guards. Even if Ellis stuck around, the Cards need to get him some bona fide, high-level help. If he doesn’t, they need to find two handlers, but especially one who can start and make a major impact. If any of the bigs go, a major impact center is on the wish list, too.
The recruiting work on transfers has already begun across college basketball, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. We’ll see what kind of progress Louisville has made there — or with any potential late Class of 2023 options — very soon.
—Pitt beat North Carolina last night and the beef between the Capel brothers and UNC is officially off the charts.
—Rick Bozich and Tom Lane discuss (video) the Louisville men’s basketball team’s first win of 2023.
—WELL THEY DIDN’T.
‼ SQ UPSET ‼— ShotQuality Scores (@SQ_Scores) February 2, 2023
Actual Score: Georgia Tech 58-68 Louisville
ShotQuality Score: Georgia Tech 78-66 Louisville
Based on the quality of shots taken:
Georgia Tech wins 84% of the time
Louisville wins 16% of the time pic.twitter.com/J29A94tqUg
—Here’s a transcript of what Kenny Payne and a trio of Cardinal players had to say after the victory.
—The CBS college hoops crew discusses (video) Louisville’s win over Georgia Tech in the “battle of ACC cellar dwellers.”
—Clint Cosgrove from Rivals breaks down the game of new U of L football commit Woo Spencer.
WHAT LOUISVILLE IS GETTING...
Size, athleticism and versatility are what Spencer brings to the table, and as good as he may be at this sage of his career, he is only scratching the surface of what he can eventually become as a football player. There aren’t many 6-foot-5 lineman with Spencer’s level of twitch, physicality and position versatility. He has the ability to be a disruptive force on the defensive line and is equally capable of developing into a difference maker on the offensive line as well. His ability to play either side of the ball adds a ton of value to the Louisville roster and it will be interesting to see where he ends up playing in the long-term. Spencer is a high motor player who plays a physical brand of football and his love for the game shines through when watching his film.
WHY IT’S BIG FOR THE CARDINALS...
Big and athletic body types come at a premium the closer you get to the late signing period and the fact that the Louisville coaching staff was able to bring in one of the best available big men on the late signing day is pretty remarkable. Louisville has wow’d with their skill players on the field for years, and with today’s addition to their line, the Cardinals are now in position to match their skill talent with an equal caliber of talent in the trenches. This is the ultimate way for Louisville to close out the 2023 recruiting cycle and the Cardinal faithful have to be proud of the way this staff finished.
—For the last few years, almost all of the top athletes trained at Chris Vaughn’s Aspirations Gym have wound up going to Kentucky. Spencer’s commitment to Louisville could mark the beginning of the end of that trend.
—Dave Lackford says that Spencer’s commitment was one of the most back and forth battles he’s ever covered.
—BBN was awfully certain that Spencer was picking the Cats. Pierce Clarkson noticed.
—Woodford County standout Preston Stacy has committed to Louisville as a preferred walk-on.
—Travis Branham looks at the college basketball winners and losers from the month of January.
—Your dopamine helping for the day.
Show me something cuter than a 94 year-old woman waving to the victorious players as they leave the court pic.twitter.com/4genZsc3vV— Rachel (@snicklefritz35) February 2, 2023
—The Crunch Zone has a photo gallery from last night’s win over GT.
—Tim Sullivan writes for the LEO that Kenny Payne’s job is safe in the short-term, but that he needs to pick it up if he wants to be Louisville’s head man for a long time.
Wednesday’s win was Payne’s first in an Atlantic Coast Conference game (after 10 losses) and was made easier by the absence of Tech’s regular point guard, Deivon Smith. Still, it was a discernible step forward after so many setbacks, a ray of hope in a season of despair.
“I pray to God every day that we can get this back on track and I know that we will,” Payne said. “I know God didn’t take me through this journey to come back here and lose every game. So we’re going to be all right. We’re going to figure it out. We’re going to get this program back.”
Kenny Payne is going nowhere fast. At least not immediately. He deserves, and will surely get, at least another year to revive Louisville basketball.
“Next year will be better,” Payne promised. “I don’t know how it could be any worse.”
—Kenny Payne says his players “deserved” to finally taste victory in conference play.
—The best of the month that was in Cardinal athletics:
—It’s been an extremely busy first two months on the job for Jeff Brohm.
—Big Red Louie argues that despite this grim season, Louisville basketball is on the rise.
—Last night was probably the knockout blow to the Pastner era at Georgia Tech, which definitely makes me sad.
—Here’s the CJ recap of Louisville’s first ACC victory.
—The U of L men’s soccer team has announced three additions to its roster for the spring semester.
—Madden Sanker and Luke Burgess have been college students for like 20 days and they’re already cashing in on some local NIL deals.
—Malik Cunningham “struggled” during his first full Senior Bowl practice.
—Another observer of Wednesday’s practice says Cunningham “showed glimpses of the athleticism and playmaking ability we saw during the fall.”
—Love a good crossover episode.
—”Relief” finally came for the Cards Wednesday night.
—U of L volleyball coach Dani Busboom Kelly talks teamwork.
—And finally, a rare celebratory episode of the Mike Rutherford Show is coming your way from 3-6 this afternoon on 1450/96.1. You can stream the show here.