LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Make certain you hydrate. Wear the proper equipment. Get extra rest.

But protect your ankles and lace your sneakers. Football season has arrived, but I’m still working the necessary basketball elements into the Monday Muse. (Plenty of football, too. Promise.)

1. Donovan Mitchell Into the Spotlight

Former Louisville star Donovan Mitchell has not pushed his way into the top line of NBA stars like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant — yet. It’s … a … process.

Mitchell is working at it. Mitchell has delivered a pair of terrific seasons for the Utah Jazz. His profile should grow this season because the Jazz are predicted to improve with the additions of Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis and Emmanuel Mudiay.

But Mitchell can grow his star quality over the next two months.

With many of the league’s top stars sitting out Team USA’s pursuit of a World Cup championship, Mitchell is one of the biggest names trying out for the squad that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will take to the competition in China from Aug. 31 through Sept. 15.

Mitchell should find his spot and shine in the backcourt with Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Kyle Lowry. (Roster rundown.)

Popovich will also coach the U.S. Olympic basketball team in Japan next summer. Impress Pop this summer and Mitchell could find himself playing for a gold medal in 2020.

With Mitchell’s intelligence, wit, charisma and smile, prepare for liftoff.

2. Scouting Notre Dame Football

Louisville will open the college football season against Notre Dame on Sept. 2, four weeks from Monday, eager to introduce Scott Satterfield, his staff and his new way of doing things to the world.

Notre Dame will open the college football season against Louisville, eager to prove the Fighting Irish will be playoff worthy again this season, despite the grumbling about their 30-3 loss to Clemson in the 2018 playoffs as well as their opening ranking at No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches’ Top 25.

How good will the Irish be?

They’ve got a veteran quarterback (Ian Book) who should improve, several quality receivers, a decent offensive line and the usual collection of highly recruited running backs.

Defense should be Notre Dame’s calling card. As this preview from OneFootDown.com explains, the Irish are stacked in the secondary and across the defensive line. (Here is the story from OneFootDown.com)

No wonder some wise guys argue that the 20 1/2 point spread that tilts toward Notre Dame isn’t large enough.

3. Purdue Serious About Football

Jeff Brohm and Purdue remain a sore subject with some Louisville fans, although I expect the grumbling will subside once Satterfield starts doing at U of L what he did at Appalachian State.

But with a two-year head start at West Lafayette, Brohm should start winning big at Purdue before Satterfield wins big at U of L.

Purdue’s latest investments in its football program should accelerate the process. The school’s board of trustees voted to spend $120 million to upgrade and renovate Ross-Ade Stadium while extending the contract of go-getter athletic director Mike Bobinski.

Purdue opens at Nevada, Aug. 30 at 9:30 (p.m., not a.m. Keep reading.)

4. Whatever Happened to Gunnar Hoak?

Sawyer Smith arrived at Kentucky from Troy to compete for the backup quarterback position that opened when Ohio native Gunnar Hoak decided that back-up quarterback was not a position he wanted to compete for any more — at least not at Kentucky.

According to ElevenWarriors.com, Hoak turned down opportunities to earn the starting quarterback spot at Rutgers, Eastern Michigan and other schools to serve as the backup at the program where several family members, including his father, played.

That would be Ohio State.

The Buckeyes are expected to contend for a playoff spot with former Georgia 5-star recruit Justin Fields running the offense.

Fields loves to run. He had more rushing attempts (42) than passing attempts (39) for the Bulldogs as a freshman last season.

If Fields goes down …

… Gunnar Hoak can be the next Kirk Herbstreit.

5. I love Chris Petersen

I’ve never met Washington football coach Chris Petersen. I’ve never covered a game that involved one of his teams at UW or Boise State.

But I already know there is a bond between me and Petersen.

Why?

Because Petersen has heard the chatter from the Pac-12 league office that the conference is considering scheduling games that start at 9 a.m. (PDT) next season for a variety of reasons that are too stupid for me to repeat here.

Petersen believes what I believe: That’s just dumb.

It’s a serious violation of the body’s internal clock — as well as a cheap publicity ploy to earn a mention in the Monday Muse.

College football games should be scheduled for 1 p.m., 4 p.m. or 7 p.m. in local time zones. You’re going to ask fans to drive several hours for games that begin at 9 in the morning.

And athletic directors wonder why attendance is down.

6. The Worst of the Worst

You have clearance to exhale. ESPN released another batch of Football Power Index numbers, identifying the best as well as the worst teams in all five major football conferences.

Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana did not make the list.

Georgia Tech is projected to be the worst team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, ranked 82nd nationally.

Louisville is 13th in the ACC, 66th in the nation, only one spot behind Boston College. The FPI projects the Cards to win 4.4 games.

Kentucky was ranked No. 40 in the country, ahead of Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Arkansas (No. 60) in the Southeastern conference. ESPN projects 6.4 wins for the Wildcats. Not what Mark Stoops wants but it’s in the ballpark of another winning season.

Indiana climbed to No. 47 in the nation and a surprising No. 9 in the Big Ten, leading Northwestern, Purdue, Maryland, Illinois and Rutgers. Tom Allen will take that.

Indiana will make a bowl trip if ESPN’s forecast of a 6.5-win season is accurate. He’ll also take that.

7. John Wall’s Awful, Terrible Contract

John Wall needs to get healthy and back on the basketball court. The Washington Wizards need that. And John Wall needs that.

Wall recently sat for an interview with Chris Miller of NBC Sports in Washington D.C. and admitted that he started thinking the things his critics have mentioned a time or two:

That Wall has the worst contract in NBA history.

Nine years after his departure from the University of Kentucky, Wall is trying to recover from a ruptured Achilles tendon and other health issues, for a cursed franchise that has fallen way behind the Raptors, Bucks, Sixers, Celtics, Nets and Pacers.

Wall is about to earn an average of nearly $43 million per season through 2023 with plenty of questions about how his speed-based game will hold up when he finally gets healthy.

And Bradley Beal might leave town, too.

Some nights it must be difficult for former Kentucky star Devin Booker to remain excited about basketball. Although Booker has put up big numbers for the Phoenix Suns, the Suns have not been relevant in the Western Conference since Charles Barkley was more of a big rebounder than a big mouth.

Booker has a friend that he would love to see in the Suns’ lineup — former Louisville Central guard D’Angelo Russell.

One problem: Russell was just traded from Brooklyn to Golden State — and the Warriors have no plans to deal him.

But Booker can dream.

9. Baseball Power Rankings

1. Los Angeles Dodgers — They beat you early or late, with pitching or their bats and with veterans and rookies.

2. Houston Astros — I’d take my shot with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke in October.

3. New York Yankees — Too many injuries.

4. Minnesota Twins — Show Me Week against the Braves and Indians.

5. Chicago Cubs — Braves have a better record but the Wrigleys have a better run differential and I like the addition of Nicholas Castellano — a lot.

10. Tweet of the Week

Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.