—NET Rankings Update: No. 34 (up one).
Since its Covid pause started less than a week ago, Louisville has slowly risen seven spots in the NET. If the Cards can avoid playing for another month, they’ve got a good shot at being a top 5-seed on Selection Sunday.
—Dana Evans is the ACC women’s basketball player of the week for the second time this season. She’s the first player to earn the honor more than once in 2020-21.
—GoCards.com recaps the Louisville women’s team’s Sunday triumph over Notre Dame.
—Highlights from the win:
—The CJ’s Cameron Teague Robinson highlights five defensive players to watch as Louisville prepares to kick off spring practice.
—Louisville Report has five questions for the Cards as they start spring ball.
—Anonymous college hoops coaches give their real takes (Athletic link) on every team in the ACC, including Louisville.
Louisville: “They’re not beating you on the backboard or around the rim like they used to. They come at you a lot of different ways with their depth. Carlik Jones and David Johnson are the best guard tandem in the league. The bigs are just OK. They’re serviceable but not dynamic. They play hard defensively. They’re not gonna give you a lot of stuff at the basket. They’re really lucky to have Jones because they don’t have blue-blood talent. They need him to do a lot.”
—Lynn Family Stadium has been nominated for Stadium Database’s 2020 Stadium of the Year competition.
—WHAS-11’s Tyler Greever has a good read on how Wes Unseld paved the way for so many at U of L.
—Hailey Van Lith is right in the thick of the race (Athletic link) for national Freshman of the Year.
Hailey Van Lith, Louisville
12.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.1 APG
Van Lith’s shooting, playmaking and defensive abilities are a big reason Louisville was able to capture the No. 1 overall ranking for the first time in program history. But what might be her most valuable asset to the team is her rebounding. At 5-foot-7, Van Lith is third on the team in rebounds per game; Louisville’s leading and second-leading rebounders are 6-3 and 6-5, respectively. And unlike the other three players on this list, Van Lith isn’t the go-to player for her team. She has been asked to stand out while playing alongside a National Player of the Year candidate in Dana Evans. To some, that might be more challenging than remaining the unquestioned star.
“What blows me away about Van Lith is that her game is so complete as a freshman. She can score from all three levels. She’s a great shooter, but she also has an excellent mid-range game. She’s really shifty. She’s great with her head fakes. She has a nice fadeaway inside, as well. She can finish at the rim. She’s a good passer, but even more so, she’s an excellent rebounder. She’s just tenacious. I mean, she has a motor where she’s going to go get that ball. … She can get in there and grab rebounds, and Louisville needs that because they play a four-guard lineup. So she realizes, ‘Hey, we need some extra help rebounding, so I’m going to go do that.’ Very rarely do you see 5-foot-7 guards averaging over six boards per game, especially as a freshman, because the hardest thing to adjust to, in my opinion, is the physicality of the college game.” — Women’s basketball analyst
“I don’t think it’s easy to go in and play around the players that she’s around that have established their roles, and then here comes this freshman fitting in. If you watch Iowa, everybody knows it’s Caitlin’s team. But Hailey is playing on Dana Evans’ team. And she’s having to do something a little bit different every night and she has been so clutch.” — SEC head coach
And Jeff Walz is right at the heart of the national Coach of the Year convo.
Jeff Walz, Louisville
After Louisville endured its own COVID-19 pause, Walz took his team to the top spot in the AP poll for the first time in program history. The ability to guide any team through this season is impressive, but what separates Walz is how agile and creative he has been when it comes to Louisville’s scheduling. He was one of the first to “Twitter-schedule,” willing to adjust on the fly to find games and make it work. Oher coaches have said how Walz, behind the scenes, has even helped their teams find games — connecting coaches, passing along phone numbers and suggesting games based on schedule openings.
Every coach needs to have some level of organization to reach the top of the profession, but this season has thrown new challenges at them. And through it all, Walz has coached a team that has easily incorporated two freshmen into the starting lineup and produced Louisville’s highest-scoring and most-efficient offense over the past five seasons.
“The reality is that he has dealt with tremendous adversity and he has just kept moving forward. I think that’s the biggest thing as a coach that, as a peer, I look at and go, ‘Wow, they were positive. They found a way to pivot and make the most of their situation. They found a non-traditional way.’ Jeff has to go out on Twitter and find games — he’s an innovator. He’s a really great in-game tactician. He really puts his players in great positions to be successful. And I think he’s a relentless worker with a great basketball mind.” — Pac-12 head coach
—The latest Cardinal Sports Zone podcast is here.
—Facts & Bracks has Louisville as an 8-seed facing Loyola of Chicago in the first round of its latest mock bracket.
—U of L football has made the hiring of new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. official.
—This is pretty nuts.
Each of the 10 schools with the most total AP Poll appearances all-time are not ranked in this week’s AP Poll:
928 North Carolina
476 Michigan State
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) February 8, 2021
Only nine of the 81 NCAA men’s basketball championships are represented in today’s AP Top 25 — Villanova (3 times), Oklahoma State (twice), Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia, and Wisconsin.https://t.co/nLZiHVx3ty
— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) February 8, 2021
—The U of L men’s tennis team topped Auburn over the weekend.
—ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel names Mykasa Robinson as one of the 12 best defenders in women’s college basketball.
Mykasa Robinson, Louisville: She has started just seven games this season but makes this list as the quintessential “do the little things” player whose calling card is defense. Louisville star Dana Evans credits Robinson with bringing scrappiness to what is perennially one of the ACC’s top defenses. Robinson has played 35 and 32 minutes in Louisville’s past two games, getting eight rebounds in each.
—Louisville is No. 33 in Andy Katz’s latest Power 36 rankings.
—Two-time Final Four official Ron Groover talks about the challenges of self-testing for Covid and isolating from family during this strange college basketball season.
—If you’re looking for an easy way to spread some extra love this week, here you go:
—ACCSports.com goes in-depth into what makes Jay Huff such a weapon for Virginia.
—It was reported over the weekend that Charlotte TE coach Cody Woodiel would be joining the U of L staff. Instead, Woodiel is joining Mario Cristobal’s staff at Oregon.
—ShaDon Brown says his farewell to Louisville:
—The 12th-ranked Louisville volleyball team returned to the court with an exhibition win over Dayton over the weekend.
—Picked to finish last in their first year as a D-I member of the Atlantic Sun, Bellarmine has now won eight straight and sits atop the league standings.
—That win streak isn’t enough to get the Knights ahead of Liberty in these A-Sun power rankings.
—Brandon Marcello of 247 Sports reviews the 2020 ACC football season and serves up a very early preview of 2021.
2020 review: Coaches can have sophomore slumps, too. Scott Satterfield surprised the ACC with an eight-win mark in his first season, but that all came crashing down in 2020 with a disappointing four-win record. Two games seemed unwinnable (Miami and Notre Dame), and one was absolutely baffling: a 46-27 loss at lowly Georgia Tech. The Cardinals lost their first four ACC games, but somehow was within one possession of knocking off eventual playoff contender Notre Dame on the road. Go figure.
2021 outlook: Eight players declared for the NFL Draft, including the best offensive player (receiver Tutu Atwell) and a couple of coaching moves on offense have occurred in the offseason. Quarterback Malik Cunningham is back after an up-and-down season that was ultimately 40 points (quarterback rating) worse through the air than 2019, and in the end that might have been the difference in a few games that could have tilted the season toward a .500 finish in 2020. All five starters along the offensive line return. The defense was a head-scratcher last season. Busted assignments and confusion reigned during that four-game losing streak, but many of those players leave the team as a bunch of youngsters Satterfield discovered on the recruiting trail try to fill their shoes. The linebackers and secondary will be the story of the offseason.
Recruiting ranking: No. 38 nationally; No. 9 ACC
—Texas-Rio Grande Valley head coach Lew Hill died suddenly just hours after coaching a game on Sunday. He’s the second D-I head coach to pass suddenly this season.
—Your ACC basketball dunks of the week (video).
—The Fagoat is making a position move.
Spring practice starts today, so catching up on some things.
In its spring practice roster, Louisville has Jack Fagot listed at OLB. Believe Louisville is going to try moving him from safety to the CARD linebacker spot this year.
— Cameron Teague (@cj_teague) February 8, 2021
—If you’re looking for a way to keep up with former Cardinals who are now in the professional ranks, check out Stats Last Night. Just pick your school, and you’ll receive daily updates on all the Cards in the NBA, NFL, MLB, PGA Tour, MLS, etc.
—A number of college hoops coaches who are very familiar to Louisville fans seem to be at odds with their fan bases. Pat Forde breaks down all these contentious situations.
—Wade Houston is the first subject of U of L’s new “Cardinal Conversations” series.
—The second-ranked Baylor Bears have now postponed their next three games due to Covid issues.
—Big Monday lineup:
Miami at North Carolina (7 p.m./ESPN)
No. 4 Ohio State at Maryland (9 p.m./FS1)
No. 23 Oklahoma State at Kansas (9 p.m./ESPN)
No. 1 Gonzaga at BYU (9 p.m./ESPN)
—We’re about a month away from Selection Sunday and we still have pretty much no idea how Covid-19 pauses are going to affect NCAA tournament seeding and bubble teams.
—RIP to Pedro Gomez, who was very, very awesome.
This is from Pedro’s trip to Cuba in 2016. If you want to know who he was, just watch this video. He loved his family, his heritage, baseball. He was just full of love for everyone. pic.twitter.com/zc6oFACPMo
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 8, 2021
—Cardinal Authority highlights some offensive players to watch during spring practice.
—The Louisville women slip from No. 1 to No. 3 in this week’s AP top 25 poll.
—The Cardinal men received 28 votes in this week’s AP poll, placing them sixth in the “others receiving votes category.” They’re second in the same category in the coaches poll.
—And finally, a reminder that the Louisville Baseball Virtual Leadoff Dinner is tonight at 7. More details are available here.