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CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO'S LATEST BROADCAST IS AVAILABLE BY CLICKING THE CRESCENT HILL LOGO. WORLDWIDE AND PAULIE DISCUSS FIELD HOCKEY, HOOPS AND SOFTBALL AND THE JUSTINE SOWRY/VIC STRATTON INTERVIEW IN ITS ENTIRETY !!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Getting there half the battle for Chinwe

Junior shot putter Chinwe Okoro participated in the Rod McCravy track and field invitation in Lexington Saturday, braving the icy and cold conditions to make the trek to Lexington. The trip was well worth her while...as she placed 4th out of 30 participants in the shot put event. Her best throw of 15.45m was good enough to secure an NCAA provisional qualifying distance.

It was her first competition of the season. Recovering from an injury, she just began her training this week for the Meyo Invitational in South Bend next weekend.

The Cards will participate in the Big East Tournament at the end of Feb. in New York. They expect to take a full roster to the event and are one of the favorites to win the womens competition.

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The Louisville swim teams split with nationally ranked Indiana Friday at Ralph Wright Natatorium. The men's team pulled off the win, while the women narrowly lost to the Hoosiers. The Lady Cards swept the 50 freestyle and Big East swimmer of the week Leslie Van Winkle set 3 pool records for the 13th ranked Cards. UofL freshman diver Hannah Gadd also won for the Cards. Louisville and Notre Dame are the favorites to win the Big East Tournament Feb. 17-20 in Pittsburgh. The Cards close out the regular season with the UofL Open on Feb. 6th.

Written by Paul 1/31/10

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cold starts doom Lady Cards in Morgantown 72-66



No wins for the Ville today!


And, no baskets in the first eight minutes of each half tonite for the University of Louisville women's basketball team. Still, Louisville (11-10, 3-5) able to rally by the end of first half to lead by four at 37-33. And able to climb back within four late in the second half. But in this game of runs, it was West Virginia's final one that did the Cards in.

Another season high for Monique Reid with 29 points tonight. Excelling at the dribble drive to the paint for the bank shot or layup. The sophomore, along with fellow sophomore Becky Burke, putting the Cards on their backs to overcome the frigid starts by Louisville tonight.

Burke added 17 points to the Cardinal effort. Ashley Rainey with eight points and nine boards. Seven surprising rebounds for 5'4" Shelby Harper.

West Virginia (20-2, 7-1) was led by Sarah Miles and Vanessa House with 17 points. Liz Repella added 15. The #11th ranked Monutaineers capatalizing on costly Louisville turnovers and lapses in defensive switches.

Jeff Walz getting a rare technical to start the second half and a bizarre gaffe by the officials, allowing the techincal free throw to be shot while the cheerleaders and gun-toting Mountaineer mascot were still on the floor. Professionalism at its finest by the striped shirts. Seems to be a problem up there in Morgantown.

The Cards are improving...given the nature of what they have left to work with. Jeff Walz possibly doing the best coaching job of his career when you consider the thin ranks. Louisville out-rebounding the Eers but losing the points off turnovers battle 15-4.

Cincinnati comes to town Tuesday. A team the Cards beat earlier this year up there and a rematch that Louisville needs to win if the Cards want to stay in contention for a first round bye in the Big East tournament.

All in all, a disappointing day for Cardinal basketball in West Virginia. And a day where Cardinal comebacks fell short of the mark.

Written by Paul
1/30/10

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lady Cards make the WVU swing

While Rick Pitino and his men's hoops team look to create some mountain memories in Morgantown Saturday, they'll have the Lady Cards with them in the West Virginia Coliseum to hopefully pull off sweep. Both Cardinal team are scheduled to play on Saturday. Let's hope the weather cooperates.

WVU not a foe to take lightly. Talented and experienced team with one of the best coaches in the Big East in Mike Carey. The #11th ranked Lady Eers (19-2, 6-1)will try to duplicate what they pulled off last year...coming into Freedom Hall and knocking off the #5 Cards 79-70.

For Walz and company, it has been a struggle this year on the road. Early season close losses to Central Michigan and Hartford. Dismantlings at Kentucky and Tennessee. Narrow losses to conference foes DePaul and Georgetown whie travelling.

It looks like the Cards(11-9, 3-4) are beginning to settle into established starters and rotations this year. Probably due to the fact tht Walz has few options when it comes to such matters. Freshman walk on point guard Shelby Harper getting better, more condifent and experienced with each game. Becky Burke delivering solid, 40 minute performances almost every time out. Monique Reid still suffering from the occasional off shooting night, but the "to go" player in crunch times. Steady Keisha Hines, Gwen Rucker and Ashley Rainey manning the front line with Asia Taylor beginning to pick it up and contribute more quality minutes. Rachel Story with the pick up mionutes to spell Harper.

Let's take two Saturday.

*************************************************************************************

Former Card Angel McCoughtry is making the most out of her Euro basketall experience. She is second in the league in scoring with 21.7 ppg, just behind Diana Tarausi. The EuroLeague is getting ready to go into playoff mode and scanning the rosters of the teams looks like some of the WNBA rosters, with 3 or 4 USA players per squad.

The Euros pay well, too. McCoughtry is making more money in the short Euro season than she did as WNBA Rookie of the Year. Her Slovakian team is 6-4 going into the playoffs, but they were 0-3 before Angel joined them. That's our girl...making improvements and grabbing the headlines no matter what part of the world she's in.

Written by Sonja 1/29/10

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Southern Indiana success

We take a look today at the Floyd Central Highlanders girls' basketball team. To say they are having a pretty good year would be an understatement. Currently, they are 18-1 and coming off a win vs. Jennings Country.

In the USA Today poll, they are ranked 21st in the nation. That poll, dubious as it may be...(California teams hold four out of the five top spots) recognizes what Highlander fans have been saying all season. This team is a top contender for the Indiana High School championship title in their division.

Ah yes, the trials and tribulations of "class" basketball. Created to provide a level playing field, a chance for schools to win titles against similiar sized institutions and confuse the casual basketball observer. A necessary evil in high school sports today but somehow we made it thru without it when I was on the hardwood.

The Highlanders are led by Morgan Rockstool and Jennifer Smith. Smith recently put up some great numbers against Meade County. 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Angel McCoughtry like.

The Highlanders take on Providence in Clarksville Saturday. If you haven't seen a girls high school hoops game in a while, you owe it to yourself to get out and support the local action. Sonja and I have had the pleasure of seeing college stars Monique Reid, Tia Gibbs, Adia Mathies and Ceria Ricketts over the last couple of years when they were still playing in high school.

Good luck the rest of the way, Highlanders.

Written by Paul 1/28/10

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cards pull out 53-50 win over Nova

A hard fought, come from behind win for the Lady Cards tonight in Freedom Hall. Down early, trailing at the half, still trailing big with just over two minutes to go. Still, paitent play, good defense and Monique Reid spell the difference in this one tonight to raise the Cards to 3-4 in Big East play.

Tough one to have to follow on Game Tracker. Especially tough with all the distractions of putting young ones to bed, the very cantankerous nature of Game Tracker itself and anxious dogs in a unfamiliar enviroment. Still, worth all the disractions to be doing a good thing and seeing the win finally come to fruition.

Give Reid 20 points for the Cards tonight. Her driving layup late put Louisville up by one and then Keisha Hines with two sealing free throws. Give Jeff Walz credit for getting the Cards in the right sets and stances late to get back into this one. Special thanks to our buddy Bob who attended the event and kept us in the loop with several cell calls. It sounded loud in the Hall tonight, gang. Good job!

Increased time on the court for freshman Asia Taylor tonight and her third three of the season. Give her time, she's going to be a good one for the Cards.

Finally, a couple of hours later, with the house quiet and dogs asleep, the worn out Sonja and I watching an amazing effort by South Carolina over previously undefeated UK with son-in-law. Especially exciting for him, since he did 2 years of undergrad work at the Columbia, SC school before getting his degree at WKU.

And, all well on the oldest's minor surgery. A return to Louisville in a few days. Until then, quality time and spoiling the grandkids. Life's pretty good, you know.

Finally, mucho props to our buddy Charlie Springer over at www.uoflcardgame.com for a great report and excellent You tube footage of the go ahead layup. It's just like watching it from our seats. Maybe he was in them...

Written by Paul
1/26/10

Villanova tonight for Lady Cards

The beleagured Wildcats stumble into Freedom Hall with no wins in Big East play yet. Much like Louisville, starters sidelined with injuries and lack of depth at key spots. Nova head coach Harry Peretta will have them ready to roll though you can rest assured.

For Louisville, not necessarily a "must win" but one the Lady Cards can ill afford to let slip by. You try to grab the home ones when you can.

It is up to you to get them home tonight with a "W". Paul and I will not be in attendance for tonight's action. A planned trip to Nashville to spend some important time with the brood while a minor surgery goes down. Nothing to worry about.

Following the action tonight via internet since 790 WKRD doesn't reach this far.
Will utilize the resources at hand...setting up a court visualization mock up with my two yorkies playing at the guard positions, two of the grandkids on the front line and Paul in the post as I shout out instructions to them on the living room floor while I monitor GameTracker. Funny, Paul doesn't look a thing like Keisha Hines...nor can he nove as fast as her. Scooter can't go to her left very well, but J.P. is a beast from the perimeter of the hallway. As soon as they're done running laps this morning, we'll have a chalk board talk.

Game on. Get it done, Cards.

Written by Sonja
1/26/10

Monday, January 25, 2010

Keeping the Faith



Every day gets a little better on the learning curve for the young Lady Cards.

It's not the season most Lady Cards had hoped for, but...my, how things have changed for the Lady Cards this season.

Flash back to this time last year. Louisville was rolling along in the Big East. You had Angel and Candyce. Dez at the point. Becky Burke and Brandie Radde were three point threats. The Cards were the second best team in the Big East. Although few fans were thinking that a deep NCAA Tournament run was in the future, we Lady Card fans knew this team was scary good and at times unstoppable.

Then, changes began to transpire. First, it was Radde...leaving the team in midseason. More emphasis needed toward a degree and medical school hopes. A major loss to the Cards' outside shooting skills but something that could be overcome.

Next, an injury to Dez Byrd in the NCAA Tournament. A knee that all figured would be healed by tip off for the 2009-10 season, but, in the end...an injury that required an early season ending surgery.

The offseason brought more changes. Three freshmen transferring out of the program. Not major factors in the Cards offensive production but players that would have provided depth, experience and skills to the squad. Say goodbye to half the incoming class from the previous year. Janae Howard to WKU. Mary Jackson to Memphis and Tiera Stephen to Wisconsin.

Still, the propects looked bright for this season. Asia Taylor hadn't recovered from her high school career ending injury but was a scoring machine that would eventually come around. Rachel Story a top Milwaukee guard. JuCo transfer LaToya Johnson with mad point guard skills. Nikki Burton...a slashing, all state selection from Charlotte. An all-state selection Ashley Rainey from Warren East. And, security for the future with transfer Tia Gibbs from Vandy. Walz's squad had reloaded and things looked promising. Even an unheralded walk-on from Scottsville...Shelby Harper

But, fate dealt the Cards another lousy hand. Johnson with a hip injury. Laura Terry still not fully recovered from a knee injury. Nikki Burton goes down with a hip injury. Tise Wright denied a final semester. Dez's leadership sorely missed. Black cats in the path and walking under ladders. Could anything else possibly go wrong?

And, after nineteen games, the Cards are down to bare bones. The walk-on leading the offense at point guard. One of two freshmen guards at the point. Nine Lady Cards left to finish a grueling Big East schedule. No seniors, one junior and ten games left in the regular season. Recall your feelings when you've coasted in to a gas station with the gauge on "E"? You could certainly understand if the Lady Cards are feeling that right about now.

Jeff Walz, however, chooses to take the high road. He talks of how the remaining girls are getting better each day. He glows over the surprising and heady play of Harper. How Taylor will eventually be a "go to" player after the recovery process from the injury is finished. How the Cards will be a very good team next year and for years to come with returning players and highly ranked recruits and signees.

And, you have to believe. You have to keep the faith. A year of additional experience for the youth movement on campus. The return of key personnel. Numbers and depth. Gas in the tank and the gauge on "F".

Most of all, Walz is thankful for the wonderful and supportive fans that are still coming out to support the team. Support that is so needed right now. Support that almost got the Cards over the hump against much more talented Notre Dame and Syracuse squads. Support that the Cards will draw on beginning tomorrow night against a Villanova team that knows a thing or two about the injury roster this year. Support that will also be counted upon in the rest of the home games...Cincy, UConn, Marquette and USF. Three out of the four are very winnable. A chance to upset in the Big East tourney and maybe secure a bid to the Big Dance. The Cards are 10-9. They need to go at least 7-3 to close out the regular season if they plan on going to the NCAA Tournament dance. All but UConn and possibly Rutgers are winnable.

Time to believe. Time to suppoet and cheer. The sign of faithful and loyal fans is demonstrated by showing up even in the tough times. Be those loyal and faithful fans. Good things are on the way. And, some fun times are still in the offing for this bunch of Lady Cards this year. Continue to be a part of it, if you've been an attendee so far. And, if you haven't..no time like the present to get on the bandwagon. These girls aren't giving up.

Don't give up on them.

Written by Sonja
1/25/10

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Coach "Q" is OK.



(Coach "Q" signals touchdown in a game obviously not in Freedom Hall. The fourth year Syracuse women's basketball coach is fine after slumping to the Freedom Hall floor yesterday)

It was a scary moment in Freedom Hall. 5:36 to go in the game, the Cards inbounding the ball from underneath the Syracuse basket and then the action stops. Officials and the Syracuse coaching staff rushes to the end of the scorers' table. My attention, focused on how the Orange were going to defend Keisha Hines at the other end of the court. I asked Paul what happened. He tersely replies that Hillsman just went to the floor. Action stops. A dead silent Freedom Hall. Syracuse players circled at the free throw line, hands clasped...in prayer. A very nervous time. The last time I've heard Freedom Hall that quiet was when Luke Whitehead landed on his head several years ago.

Coach 'Q" is OK. Commented last night that he had never experienced anything like that before. Felt a little light headed and then the next thing he remembers...20 people are standing over him. And, he doesn't even play for the Chicago Bears.

I've had my cross to bear with Hillsman in the past but that's over. I saw the warm and friendly chat "Q" and Louisviile coach Jeff Walz had before the game. If it's over between them...same here. Never delay gratitude.

Syracuse assistant coach Rick Moody, who handled the post game interviews and radio show for Hillsman Saturday joked:

"I think he overdid it. He was guarding (Syracuse guard Erica) Morrow one on one Friday in practice. He's too old to be doing that stuff."

"Q"'s defense must have helped Morrow shake the shooting slump she had been in. She torched the Cards with 23 points and 5 connections from beyond the arc.

Glad your OK, Coach Q. He's having a follow up examination Monday. He praised the Louisville physicians that gave him a full inspection, including a mini EKG moments after his collapse. And, next time you decide to be dramatic in Freedom Hall, return to the show you put on for the fans two years ago after the game. Yesterday was much too scary for those of us there. Good guys are hard to come by and it looks like you've turned into one. We need all of those we can get in the Big East.

Written by Sonja

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Short numbered Cards fall to Syracuse 64-58



Becky Burke played all forty minutes of the game today for Louisville. It appeared to be something she enjoyed as she totaled a career high 24 points in the 64-58 Louisville loss. Running mate at guard, walk-on freshman Shelby Harper was headed for forty as well but fouled out in final minute. And, there you have it. The only two guards available for Jeff Walz today in the Syracuse game.

Rachel Story? Might be serving a one game suspension for her actions in the pregame brawl at Georgetown. Problem is, she wasn't on the bench in street clothes, selling popcorn in the concourse or sitting with the Fort Knox troops in the North endzone.

Other guards in attendance at Freedom Hall today but unable to play...

-Dez Byrd (at least she was yelling loud from the bench)
-LaToya Johnson (down to one crutch now..a good thing)
-Nikki Burton (out for three weeks with a hip injury)
-Tia Gibbs (sitting out the transfer year from Vandy)
-Kayla Faulkner (leading cheers from the seats behind the bench. Hasn't been on the court in the Jeff Walz era)
-Tise Wright (OK, that's a big stretch...Tise isn't the prototypical guard)
-my wife Sonja. (Yeah, there's a little mileage on her, but she's still got a jumper)

Fact is, and I've said it before, the 'unable to play' players might give those who dress a good run for their money in a intra-squad scrimmage.

I'm tired of hearing, though, that Syracuse (or insert next opponent) used the numbers effectively and wore the Cards down today. Louisville led several times in the first and second half. They played eight players. So did Syracuse. Eight players. Theirs were just a little better than Louisville's. The Lady Cards led this game a good stretch of the first half and also until under ten left in the final half. No disgrace to lose to a 16-3 team...not when you are 10-9. Especially when Erica Morrow buries three straight jumpers beyond the arc in a row.

Scary stuff when 'Cuse head coach Quentin Hillsman dropped to the floor late in the game. Some nervous moments while he lay there and EMS and team doctors hovered over him. A EMS guy dashing back into the tunnel on the north end of Freedom hall a bit disconcerning as well. Finally, "Q" was escorted to the Orange locker room, with a look on his face that was a "WTF just happened here?" expression. He never returned to the court. They never needed him.

Louisville had a chance to win or at least tie this one late. Down by six with about a minute left, the Cards miss a running layup, pretty much uncontested. They foul, Syracuse misses the "1 and 1", the Cards drive down, hold the ball way too long before Monique Reid launches an ill advised three when all she needed to do is drive to the hoop. They weren't going to foul her. Syracuse blows another chance at the foul line...this time Reid drives to the hoop but bowls over a Syracuse defender and misses the shot. Finally, the Cards get a buzzer beater shot by Burke waved off by the officials at the end of the game.

Sometimes, it just goes like that.

Don't fret the eight or nine that will finish the season for Louisville. It's the time of the year when coaches start to whittle down their rotation to seven or eight players. Problem is, some of these probably wouldn't be the ones Walz would choose first.

Written by Paul
1/23/10

Friday, January 22, 2010

The road continues for the Lady Cards




A Saturday afternoon Big East game for Jeff Walz and the Lady Cards. Syracuse coming in, physical and tenacious as any opponent the Cards will meet this year. They had their ups and downs this year...a big win over Rutgers a few back and then two unexpected losses afterwards.

Know this...the Orange come into Freedom Hall knowing that it is time to get back on the winning track. They realize, like Louisville does, that every Big East contest is a battle...all teams looking to secure and gain the spot behind all powerful UConn. No one looks forward to facing them in the regular season...much less in the first round of the Big East tourney. Best to stay out of their bracket when tournament time rolls around. Wins equal security.

The Cards go into the game at less than full strength. Down to nine bodies in uniform, several with pains and injuries and they remain a very young and learning squad. Playmakers...for sure...but little relief available on the bench.

Rapidly coming to the time of season when the wins and losses add up. For Louisville, with two wins and three losses in Big East play, a game that they need to win on their home court. For those of you who attend the Lady Cards games at Freedom Hall, you know well the importance of fan support. You've seen over the last several years how the team responds to your cheers, your support and enthusiasm.

Your best is needed tomorrow. Time to reinforce the support and love for a team that is potentially teetering on the edge. Together, we can get it done. They expect nothing less..time to be there for them.

Tipoff is at 2 p.m. Your attendance would be greatly appreciated.


Written by Sonja 1/23/10

In memory of...

We take this brief break from reporting on the feats of women's athletics at the University of Louisville to report the sad and tragic death of a friend and Cardinal fan.

Michael Smith will be laid to rest Fri. 1:30 p.m. at St. Francis of Rome Catholic church in Louisville, KY. He leaves behind a grieving wife and 6 month old son. He died Tuesday afternoon in an accident. He was 45 years old.

Michael was many things. A caring husband, devoted dad and excellent friend and neighbor. A proud veteran who served our country in the Gulf War and former Eagle Scout.

He was also like a lot of Cardinal...or any school's fans. Didn't have season tickets to any Cardinal sporting events. That money went to provide and care for his family. Eager to follow the Cardinal via tevevision and radio. Scanned the paper each morning for the latest news on Cardinal athletics. Not a big internet guy, not a participant in blog or site discussions. Just a fan, pure and simple.

He and I discussed Cardinal athletics when we had the chance. It waa good and revealing to get the opinions and thought process from one that was not as actively involved as I toward Cardinal sports. I recall his shock over Petrino leaving. His excitement as the Lady Cards marched thru the NCAA Tournament last year. His disgust over the Pitino incident. His recap of a rare family outing to watch a UofL baseball game.

He struggled with the daily things in life as we all do. Went thru a period of unemployment. Experienced the joy of becoming a father. Cut my grass and swept my sidewalk when I was laid up with a bum knee. Would occasionally lean over the back fence with me and have a beer, idle and non important talk about the neighborhood, life and ourselves.

The things to remember are simple and straight-forward. The past is just that, let it go. We cannot predict the future, don't stress over it. The now...the present is up to you in how you approach it and accept it. A good word or deed goes a long way when it is needed. Never delay gratitude.

I will miss my friend. The struggle of carrying on after his death will be very tough for his wife and child. They didn't have a lot of money. They can't afford to bury him. A request for "in memory of" donations instead of flowers at the funeral.

We go on in life and take the joy with the pain. Some days are good ones, some are sad. Today is a sad one. It will pass but the memory of my friend will not. Rest ye well, Michael. You left this world way too early but the impressions you made while here will be your legacy and remain forever.


Written by Paul 1/22/10

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cardinal women's swimming making a big splash

Don't look now, but the University of Louisville women's swimming team is ranked #14th in the country. The pool Cards are coming off a win on the road (water?) at Notre Dame, who is traditionally the best in the Big East in this sport. Louisville is the highest ranked of all the Big East women's swimming teams and 14th is the highest ranking to date for them.


They have also defeated Tennessee, WVU, Pitt and Miami in meets this year. They finished second to Florida in the SMU Invitational and swam to a second place finish in the Purdue Invitaational.

Head coach Arthur Albiero, who coaches both the men and women's teams noted the ranking as proof ofthe hard work and dedication put forth by the squad. The men's swimming team is currently ranked 16th in the polls.

The Ralph Wright Natatorium on campus is a state of the art facility constructed in 2003. In addition to all University of Louisville swim meets, the pool is used for many KHSAA swimming events. Another example of Tom Jurich and the University providing the best available to Cardinal athletes.

Guess they probably wouldn't let me in with my inner tube, floating cooler, snorkel and floatation tube...

Best of luck to another Cardinal team proving that they have what it takes to be "the beast of the Big East".


Written by Sonja 1/21/10

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More bad news for the Lady Cards



When it rains, it pours. The NCAA has decided not to grant UofL center Chauntise Wright her final sememster of elgibility. Jeff Walz did all he could but they can be real bastards up there at the four letter institution. She is expected to remain on the bench for support and is on course to get her degree.

Before you get up and pour a drink over this one...sit back down and get ready for another body punch. Freshmen guard Nikki Burton will be out the next three weeks with a hip injury. Rehab for the supposed strain hasn't got it done and a MRI revealed an injury. Minimum of three weeks rest. OK, now go pour a double.

This is slowly becoming the season from hell for the Lady Cards.

Thank you, Chauntise for all the wonderful memories and hours of hard work you've put into the program. Just won't seem the same for me without the "big battleship" cruising down the court on her way to an easy two or shot rejection. You'll always be one of my favorites, Tise...because of the battles you won on and off the court.

Get well Nikki. Maybe we should replace the national anthem before the games with the theme song from "MASH".

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lady Cards fall to Irish 78-60




It was a short lived triumph against these pesky Irish tonight. Louisville playing the inspired, heads up basketball from the McCoughtry/Bingham days. Monique Reid doing her best Angel imitation with 17 points in 15 minutes. The Cards up by 12 and showing no sign of letting the foot off the accelerator. Fifteen minutes of inspired, intelligent basketball. Then the light turned red. A harsh return to the ghost of Cardinal women's basketball present. A 12-0 Irish run, filled with Cardinal turnovers and defensive lapses. The Cards staggering to the locker room at the half knotted in a 37-37 tie. A loss of confidence for one team and a resurgance of it for the opponent.

As the protagonist in the movie No COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN says:

"This is not going to go well for you."

A brief return of Cardinal skills and the first five points of the second half. But, good guards equal excellent play and the Irish have four stellar ones. Skylar Diggins with 20 points...15 in the second stanza. Lindsay Schrader posting up and pounding the paint with penetration. Ashley Barlow bombing from the perimeter. Melissa Lechlinter leading the way with 11 first half points. Notre Dame controlling the ball, applying the defense and slowly choking off the threat and expanding the lead.

Comparisons to the Cardinal front court are unfair. A walk on freshman, Shelby Harper trying her best to lead the team from the point. Becky Burke with a strained calf...going at less than full speed but still managing 16 points. Freshmen Rachel Story and Nikki Burton trying to learn the position but neither sufficently skilled or suited for it at this stage of their careers. The expected starting point guard and her back up when the season began arriving on the court with the aid of crutches. Tise Wright in street clothes...waiting for the NCAA to ponderously decide on her elgibility for the final semester. Gotta wonder if Jeff Walz wakes up at night and wonders why cruel fate and fortune have teamed up on him this year and literally stolen the ball from him.

This is a good Cardinal team but prone to severe swings in intensity and effort. Keisha Hines can be a beast inside but you gotta have someone who can get the ball to her effectively. Monique Reid a driving daredevil in the paint but still prone to too many turnovers...seven tonight. These are good girls who are learning the skill sets the hard way. Five freshmen, three sophomores and Keisha Hines...a junior. The Irish countered with three seniors, two juniors and a sophomore and freshman each.

The scene tonight, unfortunately...will be played out for the rest of the season if the status quo continues. Still, a brave and at times spirited effort against the so called #4 in the nation. I'm not convinced the Irish deserve such a lofty ranking and continued Big East play will bear this out, in my opinion.

For Louisville, though...failure to "get the point" will make the rest of this season a struggle. This will be an excellent and deep Cardinal squad next season. All one can do is cheer, support and hope for the best this year. If it doesn't kill ya, it'll make ya stronger...but it's hurting pretty bad right now. The lumps received today will make for a wiser, better time in the future. And, we've still got the memories of the past to tide us over.

Written by Paul 1/19/10

Anyone for Tennis? / Cardinal hoops tonite!




It might be just a little too cool and breezy for knocking the ball around on the outdoor courts but the action inside the Bass-Rudd tennis is red hot. The University of Louisville women's tennis team recently skunked Morehead State 7-0 Sunday and handled Bowling Green 5-2 on Saturday. The Cards are 2-0 in the dual match part of the tennis season.

The tennis season is one of the longest seasons played by any of the athletic teams of the University of Louisville. They begin play in mid September and take part in invitationals and tournaments until mid November. Then, after a 2 month break, they go into matches directly against other schools until mid April. The Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament follows after that.

Unlike many other Big East sports, the member schools do not have to play each conference opponent. In fact...it's quite the opposite. Louisville only faces DePaul, Marquette and Cincinnati in the regular season and they play eighteen other non-conference opponents before the Big East tournament. A schedule Rick Pitino would undoubtably love...

Amelia Harris and Stefanie Villajuan are the Cards #1 doubles team and Sarah Miller and Mandy Brown the #1 and #2 singles players. Head coach Mark Beckham is in his second season leading the team. He was an assistant coach for the men's team at UofL for 12 years.

The Cards host Eastern Kentucky next...a noon match Friday at the Bass-Rudd Tennis Complex.

Tennis. Another sport with a net. Interested, Gwen Rucker? You could be the next Venus Williams in waiting...

*************************************************************************************

Basketball returns to Freedom Hall Tuesday night for the Lady Cards. They host Notre Dame at 7 p.m. The Irish come to Louisville after a sound thumping on the road from #1 UConn Saturday night. No doubt they'll be ready to show that the #3 ranking they had prior to the debacle in Hartford was not an overrating, despite the UConn fan chants at the end of that game. UConn simply shut down the Irish in the first 10 minutes of the game and proved that they are miles ahead of any other women's college basketball program this year.

The Irish are quick, deep and talented. Although most of their starting lineup is veteran and experienced, freshman guard Skylar Diggins is having a break out first year for head coach Muffet McGraw, who is one of the most likeable and knowledgable in the business.

Barlow, Peters, Schrader, Lechlitner, Bruszewski, Williamson...seems like these girls have been at Notre Dame forever. Another night where UofL can expect the full court, trapping pressure.

Here's hoping the Cards can keep it close. Paul will be at the game and do the recap. I'll be following the action from work on the radio and my buddies Jim Kelch and Adrienne Johnson.

Written by Sonja
1/19/10

Monday, January 18, 2010

For Gwen Rucker, it's all about the "net"work



Gwen and Rutgers center Kia Vaughn in the semifinals of the "who will blink first" tournament.

When you're Gwen Rucker, the seasons tend to run together. While the rest of her University of Louisville volleyball teammates work on conditioning, academics and skills, Gwen still runs the hardwood. Different venue, different sport but the same intensity on the basketball court that she displays when attacking the wide net.

Rucker, a sophomore from Lexington Henry Clay, is used to it. She was an all-state selection in both sports during her senior year in high school and although she came to Louisville on a basketball scholarship, she quickly became an important on court prescence for Leonard Yelin's volleyball Cards her freshman year. When the sports switched over, Rucker didn't miss a beat. Jeff Walz used her as the starting center during the Cards march to the NCAA runner up finish last year, preferring to bring Keisha Hines off the bench. For Rucker, it was no big deal. You learn in volleyball the important concept of team play and togetherness. It carried over to the basketball court.

This season Rucker was an essential front line force for the volleyball Cards as a middle hitter during the 2009 season. Originally the plan was for her to concentrate on volleyball only this year and take a year off from hoops. But, front court injuries and inexperience led to her return for the women's basketball team after the Volleyball Cards were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the first round. She is back in the starting lineup, now playing alongside Keisha Hines in the Cards front court.

What next year will bring is anyone's guess. Rucker could very well be the volleyball Cards captain next year and with several talented front line players coming into to Walz's program in 2010, she may take a year off from hoops.

For now , though...she is a valuable rebounder and defensive specialist in the paint for the 2009-10 Lady Cards basketball team.

If you haven't been to Cardinal Arena to watch University of Louisville volleyball, you're missing one of the most exciting and action packed sports around. This isn't your basic back yard volleyball...the ball flies over the net at incredible speeds and players dive on the court like wide recievers in football trying to make incredible catches. The Cards won the Big East tournament last year and a strong squad returns. You owe it to yourself to get out and watch a match. If you do, you'll be hooked and back for more.

Hey, they have a net in field hockey, lacrosse and soccer. Ready to expand the resume, Gwen?

Written by Paul 1/18/10

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lady Cards Basketbrawl



(Sometimes, you just feel like screaming)


The title above isn't a typo. In case you haven't heard, the Lady Cards were involved in an old fashioned, punch throwing out of control melee about an hour before the game Saturday with the Georgetown Hoyas. Below is an account of what happened as seen by one of the Cardinal people at the game We're keeping the identity anoynomous because of fears of what might happen to after the coach imposed a "gag rule" on the subject. I will protect this person's identity and confidences.

"The team just (runnin) a lap around the court like (alway) do when come out to warm up. One of them [Georgetown players]sticks out a foot and trips someone behind me. I heard (som) shouting and stuff and then over in the corner of the arena Keisha is (gettin) busy with one of them. Then. like everybody is over there and people is (steppin) in and I was there if I was needed to throw a few but it was over pretty fast. Then Coach and her (Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy) talked for a long time and we were back in the locker room and Coach he had some stuff to say about it all. Stuff I won't repeat cause it was just for us to hear and think about. It was definite crazy time (tho). They should be glad Tise didnt get ahold of (sumbody). LOL"

Mayhem before athletic events. Something you might expect out of rowdy, rival soccer teams and fans or two bitter college football rivals, but...for God's sakes, not in women's basketball. The ridiculous has met the sublime.

Doesn't matter who started it. Doesn't matter why it happened. It shouldn't have. The coaches will review the tape of it. A ESPN film crew caught the incident. They were showing nano clips of it on SportsCenter and highlight blubs during the UConn v. Notre Dame game. It did not look pretty. Suspensions might and should come from the member institutions and then passed on to the NCAA to see if they agree with them.

There's no crying in baseball, there's no need for fighting in women's basketball. Hockey, yes..it's expected, the fans love it and the players practice it. But, it is ridiculous in a game where positioning and point guards are the expected norm, not punches and pushing.

Oh, the game...

The Cards lost 60-56 in a pretty ugly exhibition of college basketball. 30 turnovers for UofL. The referees with whistles working in hyperdrive...three Cardinal's fouling out. Louisville starting the game like a parody of some of the mid majors they beat up on earlier this year. Shades of UT and UK all over again. Down by twelve with 10:00 to go and then finding some heart and drive and cutting the lead back to 5. Going in with a chance at halftime. Then coming out in the second half and doing the same old weary blunders. Louisville down by sixteen in the second half with 13:24 to go and rumbling, stumbling back to take a 1 point lead on a Keisha Hines layup with less than 3 minutes to go. 53-52 Cards. Then producing a series of self imposed miscues, turnovers and missed shots to allow Georgetown to go on a game ending 8-3 run to clinch the win.

You want statistics? Look them up on line or in the paper. I refuse to print anymore of them here because they're pretty ugly.

This Cardinal team will be a trial by fire bunch the rest of the year. The losses at point guard are on the checklist of every Big East opponent the Lady Cards will face the rest of the year. A very upset and angry Notre Dame team will prowl into Freedom Hall Tuesday night still steamed about their thumping by the UConn Huskies and they'll be looking for some Mel Gibson type payback. A brawling, surly Syrucuse will do the same Saturday...having just lost to former Big East doormat South Florida. The Syracuse crew has some priors with the Cards. Quentin Hillsman, the Orange head coach, created his own theatrics in Freedom Hall two years ago and the two teams aren't exactly going to have a sleepover with cookies and punch after the game.

Maybe some of the Cardinal game promotions should be things like Triage Night. Bring a Band-Aid for a Friend. Knock the Lights out Night. Bash a Buddy and Punch a Pal promotions. How did it all get so out of control?

One thing is for certain. Louisville head coach Jeff Walz will need to get this under control. I have no doubts that he will, if he hasn't already as I write this morning. From the brief snippets I saw, looks like three Lady Cards could be subject to sanctions. Since it was more than 15 minutes before game time, the referees had no official authority, no control or designed ability to stop the madness. Like it would have mattered. They would have just blown their whistles and pointed at people. Maybe huddled at half court and asked each other if anyone actually saw what happened. They let them play in the nationally televised UConn vs, Notre Dame game last night. That tape should be shown to every official scheduled to do a Big East game the remainder of the year as an example of the right way to call a college basketball game. I understand that the crew in D.C. yesterday had to be worried that the pre-game activities might spill over into the actual game, so they called it tight. But, that was way too tight. Uncomfortable, spandex cutting off circulation tight.

Great. Three possible suspensions or sanctions on a 10 player roster. Might be time for Sonja to get out the old Reeboks and elbow pads. I had a passable inside game when I played high school hoops and my field hocker career taught me a thing or two about positioning, fighting and high sticking. I'm thinking I might have a sememster of elgibility left. Of course, I jest here. I probably wouldn't last thru 10 minutes of the Jeff Walz practices I've seen, much less a game.

The rest of the season should prove to be very interesting for these basketball Cards. Put on the head gear and let's get ready to rumble!

Written by Sonja 1/17/10

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I Will Miss My Friend



Way too choked up and in shock over the loss of my friend Francene Cucinello. All I can offer is the beautiful lyrics from one of my favorite Smokey Robinson songs...."Really Gonna Miss You When You're Gone" If you've never heard it, I recommend you listen to his beautiful styling of it.

Really going to miss you
It's going to be different without you
Time came when you had to go
For the rest of my life
Gonna be thinking about you...yes I am

I'll miss you my buddy
I'll miss you my friend
I promise my love for you will never end.

In your finest hour I was there with you
And without you things won't be the same
But there's a higher power that we answer to
And you heard HIM calling your name

Really going to miss you
Everything about your smiling face
I know you want us all to be strong

Really going to miss you
I know you've gone to that magic place
Singing you a brand new song

I'll miss you my buddy
I'll miss you my friend
I promise my love for you will never end.

Your encouragement to do this blog, the many e-mails we exchanged, those delightful wine spritzers at tailgate events. You just being you.

I'll miss you, my friend.

Written by Sonja 1/16/10

WBB on TV Saturday



A nice treat for local University of Louisville women's basketball fans today. The Lady Cards game against Georgetown will be on WHAS TV. Tipoff is 2 p.m.

Makes for a great day of watching Cardinal basketball. The men play Pitt at noon and this one is a TV game as well. WHAS has the coverage also. If you are out of town and want your fix for Cardinal basketball, check out www.uoflsports.com. You can subscribe to receive all the broadcasts and enjoy the Cards while surfing the internet. My favorite way to follow the Lady Cards on the road (if I can't be there in person) is to tune in to 790 WKRD and listen to the Jim Kelch play by play and Adrienne Johnson's color commentary. Kelch does a fantastic job with the game action. Enjoy him while you can...he leaves Louisville in the spring to be the play by play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds.

Pictured above, Becky Burke leads the Cards in scoring this year with 15.7 points per game. The sophomore is the only true three point threat for Jeff Walz's team and has cashed in on 37 of them so far this season. Louisville (10-6, 2-1) will also need another big game from Monique Reid today if they are to defeat a well disciplined and defensive oriented Hoya squad. Defensive pressure after made basket will be essential to get the Cards transition game in full swing.

Georgetown (14-2, 3-0) is one of the early surprises in Big East Womens basketball this year. Freshman Sugar Rodgers leads the Lady Hoyas in scoring with 19 points a game and is one of the front runners for Big East Freshman of the year.

IF you like watching women's basketball, there will be a barnburner on ESPN tonight at 9 p.m. #1 UConn and #3 Notre Dame go to war in Hartford. I'm not sure if I'll be able to stomach 2 hours of Dickie Vitale calling a womens' game but Doris Burke will be on hand also to talk Dickie V off the ledge and add some sanity to the broadcast..


Remember, also that Notre Dame visits Freedom Hall Tuesday night to face the Lady Cards. It's a "red out" game and the Hall should be packed. If you haven't got tickets for this one yet, don't delay. It should be a great one to attend. If you are a season ticket holder and have a scheduling conflict for any of the UofL women's games...don't let those tickets go to waste! You can drop them off at Freedom Hall at Guest Services and they will be redistributed to needy fans who might not be able to attend otherwise.

Gear up, stock the cooler, get the wings and dip ready early...a great day ahead of us for Cardinal hoops!

Written by Sonja 1/16/10

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cardinal Softball looks strong for 2010



Before you know it, the crack of a softball from an aluminum bat will be resonating from the corner of Floyd Street and i-65. Cardinal softball practice is well under way and the Sandy Pearsall's squad begins the season Feb. 12th in the Mariott Classic in Houston.

Pictured above is 2009 Big East MVP Melissa Roth. The hard hitting catcher leads a solid nucleus of seven returning starters that were picked in the Big East preseaon poll to win the title.

All American Kristin Wadwell returns to the mound for the Cards. Chelsea Bemis holds down the "hot corner" for the infield and left handed slugger Vanessa James can play anywhere in the infield or outfield. Other returning starters include Colby Wherry and Kristin Austin. Pearsall also has eight talented freshmen joining the squad this year.

The 2010 Big East tournament will be played in Louisville. Coaches and players in the Big East rave about Ulmer Stadium being the best ballpark in the Big East for softball. Louisville has played at the facility since 2000.

Do yourself a favor and get out to watch the Lady Cards softball team in action this year. And check back here at Cardinal Couple for coverage of the team as they take on the challenge of winning the Big East. See you at the ballpark!

Written by Paul 1/15/10

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Next three key for Lady Cards

Beginning Saturday, the next three games for the University of Louisville women's basketball team are key and crucial in terms of Big East success and ranking. The Cards have had the week off after a nice win against Providence in Freedom Hall. They take to the road to face a dangerous Georgetown team that is currently ranked 24th in the nation.

Georgetown defeated Providence Tuesday night. They have two outstanding guards that can drill the three and apply pressure defense. Louisville is slowly starting to find their identity in the back court after losing Dez Byrd for the season and having back up point guard LaToya Johnson out with a hip injury. They still have no true point guard in the lineup...using a combination of Nikki Burton, Shelby Harper and Rachel Story to play the position.

All three are freshmen. Still prone to the freshmen mistakes and lapses of court awareness that all freshmen go through. Of the three, Burton shows the most promise. Jeff Walz has made it easier on her lately, telling her not to worry about all the skills needed to be a point guard...just go out and play your game. It seems to have worked. Burton had a big game against the Friars and is using her athletic ability and ball hawking skills to create and produce for the Cards.

After Georgetown comes Notre Dame into Freedom Hall. Currently #3 in the nation, they come to the Ville 3 nights after playing at #1 UConn. It's unlikely they'll come out of that one with a win, so they'll be looking to get back on the winning track against Louisville. The Irish are deep, talented and dangerous. Muffet McGraw a veteran and cagey coach that will employ the press all night long if needed and switch up the defenses. Freshman Skylar Diggins is all that was predicted.

Next Saturday, the Lady Cards entertain Syracuse in Freedom Hall. The 'Cuse is coming off a big win over Rutgers Weds. night in the Carrier Dome. 3rd year coach Quentin Hillsman teaches and puts the emphasis on aggresive and hard hitting hoops. Syracuse has flirted with a top 25 ranking all season and will be looking to come into Freedom Hall to avenge a loss to Louisville in their place last season.

Tough sledding ahead for Walz's crew. Currently at 2-1 in Big East play, Louisville needs to win at least 2 of these next three to realistically have a shot at finishing in the top four of the Big East regular season statistics. They'll need big efforts from Monique Reid, Becky Burke, Keisha Hines and whoever else Walz puts into play.

The Cards have shown the ability to bury opponents early in games this year. They've also shown the trait to fold early against competition. Let's hope the burying version shows up in the next three.

Written by Sonja 1/13/10

Welcome to Cardinal Couple

Thanks for stopping by to check out this bold venture from Sonja and I. It's a blog that will mostly cover UofL athletics, especially women's sports. It will also delve into horse racing, human interest stories and the occasional parody. Whether anyone reads it or not remains to be seen but it should prove to be fun.

For those who don't know, we are Sonja and Paul Sykes. You may have seen our writing at UofL Card Game, the Rivals boards or Cardinal Dominance websites. Rest assured, those won't stop. This is just a venue to put somethings that don't make it to those websites. I will comment that we've stopped posting over at Cardinal Dominance but we both highly recommend the site and urge you to read it, reply to it and support our good friend Shannon's site. In addition, Sonja has been offered a spot at one of the largest University of Louisville sports websites on the internet. She hasn't accepted yet...many details to be worked out. So, this may eventually be a site run pretty much by me...which will have readers running toward the hills with their hands over their eyes and babbling incoherently in tongues. Or not.

Enjoy. Come often and feel free to comment. We'll see how it goes and how well we can keep the blog maintained and informative. We'll have the first official topic post on here later today. At least I got the first official post. We have to mud wrestle to see who gets the honor of submitting it...She's a 9/5 favorite...

Paul