It has been 35 years of University of Louisville women's basketball in Freedom Hall. Attendance has grown from several hundred that would come in early to watch them play before men's game to the 19,000 that attended the Louisville vs. Connecticut game in 2008. Along the way, the Cards have also played home contests at several area high schools...as well as Bellarmine, Spalding, Louisville Gardens...well, about any place that has seats, a ceiling and two hoops.. As the Lady Cards get ready to say goodbye to Freedom Hall against USF, let's take a look back at the days in the Hall.
Terry Hall was the first UofL women's basketball coach. She stayed 5 years at Louisville and compiled at 79-54 record. Louisville began women's college basketball play on Dec. 2nd 1975 in Freedom Hall. The opponent that day was WKU and they dismantled the Cards 102-57. The Hilltoppers were considered one of the best in women's hoops back then. Louisville got their first win in Freedom Hall on Dec. 12th, defeating Northern Kentucky 58-47. In those early days, the opponents were mostly from around the Kentuckiana area and the Cards ended each season each year in the Kentucky Women's Intercollegiate Championship state tournament held in Lexington.
Peggy Fiehrer replaced Hall in 1980 and guided the Cards for nine seasons. Her overall record was 120-139. In the 1982-83 season, the Cards made their first NCAA Tournament appearance, losing to Texas 84-55. They would get back there one other time under Fiehrer.
Bud Childers replaced Fiehrer as the Cards skipper and posted a mark of 152-88 in his eight years at Louisville. The Cards got three trips to the NCAA Tournament under Childers. The Cards split time between Freedom Hall, Cardinal Arena, Louisville Gardens and Broadbent Arena in those days and under Childers...they also won several Metro Conference and Conference USA titles.
1997 saw a coaching duo take over the Lady Cards. Husband and wife Martin Clapp and Sara White co-coached the Lady Cards from 1997-2000 and the Cards won 20+ games the first two years and went to the Big Dance. Clapp assumed the sole head coaching role from 2000-2003 and he was named C-USA coach of the year after the 2001-01 season that saw Louisville win the regular season championship and play Xavier in the NCAA Tournament. The Cards were 57-36 under the Clapp and White combination and 108-73 during Clapp's six years here.
Tom Collen took the reigns in 2003 and led the Cards to a 88-37 mark in his four years as the Cardinal skipper. After a WNIT trip in 2003-04, the Cards went to the NCAA tournament his final three years. Collen was on board when the Lady Cards began Big East play and Collen was responsible for getting three of Louisville's best to attend school here...Angel McCoughtry, Jazz Covington and Candyce Bingham.
As Jeff Walz wraps up his third season as UofL women's basketball coach, the Cards are poised for even greater accomplishments as they move into the downtown arena. Walz led the Cards to the NCAA Championship game last season and has had the highest ranked recruiting classes at Louisville each consecutive year he's been here..
SONJA'S ALL TIME FREEDOM HALL TEAM
Angel McCoughtry. Simply the best to ever wear the Lady Cards uniform.
Jazz Covington. The Adel, GA. center was tough as nails and cool under presure.
Kristin Mattox. Best outside shooter to play for the Lady Cards.
Sara Nord. Jeff, IN. point guard led Louisville in assists 4 years.
Nell Knox. Second behind Angel in career points.
Candyce Bingham. The silky, smooth forward was Angel's perfect compliment.
Valerie Owens. Scoring leader in the early days of Cardinal hoops.
Sharon Bellamy. Led the Cards in rebounding 3 straight years. Scoring 2 years.
Marilyn Reckelhoff. The forward was a big scorer and deadly with free throws.
Gwen Doyle. Manual grad led Cards in scoring and rebounding for two years.
SONJA'S FAVORITE PLAYER OF ALL TIME IN THE HALL:
Kristin Mattox. Now Kristin Cox, she was the ultimate mad bomber from the court, sinking deep threes, driving layups and contested jumpers. From the foul stripe she shot .852 for her career...tops in Cardinal history. She could teach today's players quite a bit about defensive skills and played from the National Anthem till the final horn. It's unlikely her 271 career three pointers made will ever be topped.
Written by Sonja