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Sunday, February 28, 2010

USF clips Cards 63-60 with late three.



Speed kills.

Everyone expected overtime in Freedom Hall Saturday. Everyone except USF guard Allyson Speed, that is. With four seconds remaining in regulation, she demanded the ball from the top of the key and calmly released what would be her 8th 3-point connection of the game to put Louisville away.

As it had been thruout the game, when the Cards left Speed open...she made them pay. Her 24 points came from beyond the arc. Walz used everyone but P.A. announcer Sean Moth to try and stop the hot shooting guard.

Far from fitting and eerily ironic that the guard with the nickname "Cat" sinks the Lady Cards in the Freedom Hall farewell. Speed was expected to add valuable depth and three point prowess for Jose Fernandez's Lady Bulls squad this year. The senior guard lived up to her byline yesterday...rolling off picks to launch three point bombs against a step slow Cardinal defense.

Questionable strategy for the final sequence by the Cards skipper Jeff Walz, who removed Rachel Story from the game. Story had been the sole Card able to contain Speed...but Walz went with a taller lineup and no point guard in the final 30. Charlie Springer, over at UofL Card Game offers a nice video of the final sequence and winning shot. Not sure what happened at the end of the video...but Charlie got a great shot of the littered floor in the stands at Freedom Hall.

Such as been the tale of the Lady Cards this season. Close but no cigar. Rallies that fall just short. Outstanding individual efforts (witness Monique Reid's 32 points yesterday) and players who disappear at crucial times. A lack of cohesion, especially on defense and a frustrating and trying season for us in the seats...who continue to cheer loud and proud for our Cardinals.

Hats off to Keisha Hines with 11 hard earned points and 12 boards against the taller, more physical Bulls front line. Reid was magnificent in defeat...11 rebounds to go with her career high in points. Monique going in the paint with Angel skills and seemingly scoring at will inside on USF. Questions about Becky Burke...two points in 31 minutes with 1-8 shooting. A nice final appearance in the Hall for Brandie Radde, nailing a late, key three and finishing with eight points. Rachel Story, to use a horse term... seems to be a stretch runner..going nowhere early in the season and having her best back to back games as the season ends.

The regular season ends for the Lady Cards with a Monday trip to Rutgers. Not the star studded, All-American teams of the past for C. Vivian Stringer...but a solid team with a shot at NCAA postseason play and one that will be very difficult to beat in the RAC. Brittany Ray is a next level player...and they even have a Sykes on the team (no relation).

Next year looks promising. As far as this year...the Walz post game words sum it up very well.

"The whole season has been full of a lot of frustration and heartbreak. Look at our bench. There were no other players to put it. Dez, Nikki, Chauntise unable to play. That's where the frustration sets in. I'm not saying we'd be a 20 win team with them..but we certainly wouldn't be 13-15."

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

A tip of the hat to horse trainer Jeffrey Sheets who scored a win in the first race at Turfway on Friday with Steve's Revenge. Off at 6-1, Steve benefitted from a breakneck early pace and swept down the stretch passing the other horses to win going away. Two in a row for Steve's Revenge now and a pat on the back for our favorite trainer. Jeff does not run a lot of them but puts quality ones out there when he does.

Those stable fees and transportation costs seem a little less worrisome today.

Written by Sonja
2/28/10

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lady Cards say Goodbye to Radde, Wright today




Louisville's two seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony before the 2 p.m. tipoff against USF today in Freedom Hall. For both Brandie Radde and Chauntise Wright, it was a long and winding road to get to this day.

Tise arrived on campus back in 2005 but was not able to play until the second semester. She appeared in 16 games in 2005-06 and highlighted the season with 23 point against St. Francis. Her sophomore year saw her as a steady backup to Jazz Covington at center...she played in all 35 games and hit double figures in ten of them. She slammed Syracuse for 25 points and 12 boards and finished the season with a 6.9 scoring average. As a junior, she moved into the starting lineup and led the Big East in shooting %, while tallying 11.4 points a game and hitting double figures in 24 of the 36 games. Much was expected of her 2008-09 season...but a preseason injury to her knee and being struck by a car while on campus meant surgery and her having to sit out the season. This year, she provided a valuable spark off the bench and a crowd favorite. The NCAA ruled her inelgible for the second semester but she still remained one of the biggest supporters on the bench and in the community for UofL women's basketball.

Brandie Radde came to Louisville a year after Tise and quickly became the Cards three point specialist her freshman year. She averaged 6.1 a game her first year and nailed 56 threes while starting 18 of the Cards 34 games. Her sophomore season saw her improve upon those stats...with 70 threes and a solid 8 points per game...starting 32 of the 35 contests. Last year, Radde played about 2/3rds of her junior year before taking a leave of abscence to concentrate on academics. Radde wanted to make sure she got into medical school and once those dreams were realized...she asked Walz if she could rejoin the team halfway thru this current season and has been a valuable contributor off the bench. She'll finish her career at UofL as the 6th leading three point scorer in Lady Cards history and her 70 connections in 2007-2008 ranks third for 3-point field goals made in a season.

Brandie and Tise are the final Cardinal connections to the Tom Collen era at UofL. Current juniors Laura Terry, Keisha Hines and Dez Byrd were recruited by Collen but never played for him.

Ironically, both Wright and Radde were absent as active players during the Cards march to the NCAA Championship game last year...but returned this season to give what they could to the Lady Cards. Each player's families will be in attendance today for the pregame ceremony. Cardinal fans will always remember Wright's dominating play in the paint and the sweet long distance accuracy of Radde's bombs from beyond the arc.

Two of Louisville's favorites make their final regular season appearance today at Freedom Hall. A special halftime tribute honoring the Lady Cards seasons in Freedom Hall will happen at halftime and the team and Coach Walz will address the crowd after the game.

We'll review the activities here on Cardinal Couple tomorow. Please make an effort to get out today and say goodbye to these key Lady Cards this afternoon if you can.

Written by Sonja
2/27/10

Friday, February 26, 2010

Final Lady Cards home game in Freedom Hall Saturday

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.

SECOND TEAM

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
2/26/10

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lady Cards romp in Jersey 72-49


Despite feeling ill a couple of hours before the game, Becky Burke hits double figures in the romp in Walsh Gym against Seton Hall.

The Lady Cards increase their winning streak to two games last night with a win over Seton Hall. We were at the Charlie Strong reception last night at Churchill Downs (a wonderful time..by the way...Paul does a recap of it that is linked here and also over at www.uoflcardgame.com ). I was following the action on my walkman and stuffing my face with shrimp, mini tacos and the other fine foods they had there for the meet and greet. Life was pretty good last night and it was a great way to wind down an exciting birthday for me.

Although the Cards started slowly and actually trailed 9-1 after 4 minutes of play...they rallied...regained the lead on a Rachel Story jumper and went up ahead at halftime 30-26. I took off the walkman for a bit and went to find my wandering Paul...who had cornered John Asher (no easy job) and was telling him how he would run Churchill Downs. A bad time to leave my pocket tape recorder at home.

The event carried on and I tuned back in for the second half. They were showing racing from Santa Anita up in the Turf Club also and Paul proudly came back to the table displaying winning tickets on the exacta, trifecta and late daily double for the final race. He almost missed his chair trying to sit down...too...and I told him to slow down on the free Woodford Reserve and I went to get him a plate of food.

While I walked the room, the Cards were trudging the hardwood and off to a 39-29 lead in the second half. I got some stares because of the walkman, but also a few inquires if I was listening to the women's game. By the time I returned to the table, Paul and his buddy Arch were considering betting Austrailian racing. They had shook hands with Charlie and both of them were as giddy as schoolkids about the prospects of Cardinal football. As am I.

The Lady Cards had regressed a bit and were only leading by five when the shrimp cocktails started showing up by the tray at our table. Paul...working the room and the waitresses again...Still, we munched happily and I listened anxiously as the Cards went on their own 9-0 run and left the Pirates stuck on a sand reef.

It was time to go right about the time Brandie Radde drilled a three to put Louisville up by 20. The wobbily "Captain Kirk" handed over the keys to the "Enterprise" to me and we headed home after a fun and full birthday...listening to the final minutes and post game wrap up on the radio.

The essentials you need to know about last night's win...

-Monique Reid with a double double. 28 points and 15 boards. Paul has started calling her "Angel-ique" and there's no doubt the Fern Creek sophomore knows her way to the hoop. Maybe someday she'll pick up the rest of #35's all around dominance on the court...plenty to love about her and so much more potential to develop.

-Becky Burke with 16 points despite feeling ill a couple of hours before the game. Starting to play defense like she understands it. She is my favorite out there...next to Asia.

-Keisha Hines with 10 and some big board work. Gotta love the effort and hustle.

Louisville returns to action Saturday...hosting tough USF.

Be there.

Written by Sonja
2/25/10

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Women's Hoops at Seton Hall tonight


Walz and the Cards make the first of two trips to Jersey tonight to take on the woeful Lady Pirates. Louisville seeks to win their second game of the year on the road against Big East opponent. Pictured to the right...Jeff Walz and Monique Reid discuss the final episode of The Sopranos and whether Tony will be at the game Weds. night. (just kidding...) Seton Hall has one conference win this season. Futility meets Despair. The Cards return to Jersey to end the season against Rutgers on 3/1/10. Fagettaboutit....

It has been a "fagettaboutit" kind of season for Lady Cards basketball this year. More injuries than I can ever remember in one year. Massive blowouts administered by Kentucky, Tennessee, UConn and St. John's. A walk-on freshman point guard directing the offense. Eight available players for the final three games of the year (knock on wood). To use a old saying from deep in the hills of eastern Kentucky.."they kicked my dog, busted up my still and run off with my youngest daughter...and it ain't even noon yet."

The season has three games remaining before all Big East women's basketball teams are summoned to Hartford, Connecticut for the annual coronation of Geno and his Huskies. The Cards are 4-9 in the Big East standings...good for 12th place.

Still, there are some encouraging things surrounding this current flock of birds. Shelby Harper has done much more than anyone would have expected in her trial by fire at the point. Asia Taylor has played well in the last couple of games and the freshman seems to have a lock on the power forward spot right now...maybe by attrition but we're beginning to see her potential realized.

Monique Reid and Becky Burke continue to be the scoring leaders for the team...both are sophomores. Louisville loses no one to graduation this year except Tise Wright and with a stellar recruiting class coming in for the 2010-11 season, next year shows a ton of promise and potential. Keisha Hines is a better than average Big East center and with the latest win over Marquette...the Cards are off the 5 game losing streak.

The Cardinal fans have remained faithful during the year as well. Louisville ranks third in Big East attendance behind Connecticut and Notre Dame...averaging over 6500 fans a game.

So, will the road finally provide the Cards a break tonight against cellar dweller Seton Hall? Will the Cards inch closer to a .500 season on "Pack the House" promotion night in South Orange? Will the cast from Jersey Shore drop in for the game?

We'll recap the action tomorrow and hope that the Cards can continue the winning ways. Game time is 7 p.m. and the broadcast can be heard locally on 790 WKRD AM with Jim Kelch and Adrienne Johnson.


Written by Paul
2/24/10

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Louisville Lacrosse off to 2-0 start


Katie Oliverio in action for the undefeated women's lacrosse team. Her five assists against Manhattan set a school record on Saturday.

It is a sport few of us know much about and one that I've never played...but the Lady Cards are undefeated at it during the early season and Kellie Young has her team poised to hit the road during the 2010 lacrosse season.

The Cards recently defended the home turf with a 19-6 win over Manhattan this weekend. In this second season of lacrosse at Louisville, Louisville has emerged as one of the teams expected to make a run at the Big East title...a heady accomplishment for the team in its second season.

On her record setting accomplishment, Oliverio took the modest approach.

"My teammate were getting open, I just got the ball to them. They did the rest."

Louisville kicked off the season with a 17-5 home win against Sacred Heart (the college...not the Louisville high school team). The Cards face the mother of all road trips ahead...with eight straight games over the next eight weeks on the road...not returning to play at the Louisville lacrosse field until April 9th.

Eight teams participate in Big East lacrosse. The Cards will face Cincinnati and Notre Dame during their extended road trip and will also travel to Eugene, Oregon for a game. The Big East Tournament will be held in New Brunswick, NJ beginning May 6th.

The Cards recently signed ten talented players for the future with the vast majority of them coming from the East Coast...where the game has long been a club and high school sport.

Located on Floyd Street, next to the YUM center, Louisville's field has easy access, plenty of parking surrounding it and a state of the art scoreboard. Bleacher seating is available and admission is free for games.

If you haven't witness the exciting action on the field for lacrosse games, you owe it to yourself to take in a contest. I was fortunate enough to see the inaugural contest last year and found the action fast paced and exciting...similar to field hockey but featuring much more scoring. Louisville's next home game will be April 9th. against Loyola (MD). The action begins at 1 p.m.

Written by Sonja
2/23/10

Monday, February 22, 2010

Softball Cards take two in Charleston


Chelsea Leonard gets the win in the second game, striking out eight in five innings in a 10-2 win over College of Charleston.

The #15 University of Louisville softball team won their final two games in the Charleston Southern Invitational on Sunday...blanking the Akron Zips in the first game 1-0 and demolishing College of Charleston in the final 10-2. Louisville is now 9-2 on the season.

Against the Zips, the Cards struck early and it was enough to secure the win. Melissa Roth drew a walk in the top of the first, advanced to second on Brittany York's infield single and scored when Vanessa James singled. Louisville held Akron to four hits in the game, with senior pitcher Kristen Wadwell getting the win while striking out three.

The second game against the Cougars, Louisville broke open a 2-2 tie in the top of the fourth inning with 6 runs. Chelsea Bemis smacked a two run double in the rally and the Cards added two more hits and drew four walks in the big inning. Louisville added two more runs in the 5th.

Next for Sandy Pearsall's team...a return to home and Ulmer Stadium. They play in the Cardinal Classic beginning Friday...opening with two games the first day. Louisville takes on St. Louis and then Purdue. Diamond action begins at noon. The Classic runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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

Giving credit where credit is due, hats off to the University of Kentucky women's basketball team this season. The #16 Lady Kats (23-4, 11-3) have complied an impressive season so far with a record of 17-0 at home. They drew over 7500 in Memorial Coliseum Sunday to watch them close out the home season with a 71-50 win over South Carolina. The Gamecocks had defeated UK earlier in the season...but led by seniors Amani Franklin, Lydia Watkins and freshman guard from Iroquois Adia Mathies, UK jumped out to a 9-1 lead early on USC, led 36-20 at the half and were never seriously challenged on Senior Day.

The road gets considerably tougher for Matthew Mitchell's squad later this week. UK travels to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Vols Thursday night.

Written by "the Birthday boy"
2/22/10

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Softball splits in Charleston


The University of Louisville softball team went 1-1 in Saturday action in Charleston. A big effort by freshman pitcher Chelsea Leonard in the first game, tying a UofL record with 16 strikouts in Louisville's 7-4 win over Youngstown State.

The Cards jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead, keyed by Vanessa James (pictured above) who banged a two run double. The Penguins tallied a run in the bottom of the first but Louisville came back with two runs in the second to put the game out of reach. A leadoff triple by Melissa Roth began the attack and the Cards tacked on an insurance run in the third inning. Youngstown State got their final three runs in the sixth inning from a three run home run blast by Autumn Grove.

Leonard ties the Cardinal strikeout record with her complete game...a record set last year by Kristin Wadwell against Eastern Michigan. She allowed four earned runs on four hits.

In the second game, Louisville once again jumped out to an early lead after a two run single by Roth had the Cards up 3-0 after the top of the fourth inning. Charleston Southern rallied against Cards starting pitcher Wadwell for a run in the bottom of the fourth and then seven runs in the botton of the fifth, including a grand slam homer off Wadwell by CSU's Jessica Peters-Brock. The Cards got one back in the top of the sixth with a Roth double but a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth by CSU closed out the scoring...as the Cards fall 9-4.

On the last day of the tournament, Louisville will play two Sunday, starting with Akron and the final against the University of Charleston.

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

Congratulations to the University of Louisville swimming teams in the Big East Tournament which ended Saturday in Pittsburgh. The men's team took the title and the women came in second behind Notre Dame, after leading for two of the four days.

Written by Sonja
2/21/10

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cardinal softball rolling along in Charleston Southern tourney


Led by hard hitting catcher Melissa Roth...Sandy Pearsall's University of Louisville women's softball team continues its winning ways in the Charleston Southern Invitational with wins on Friday against St. John and host Charleston Southern.

The Cards (6-1) overcame an early attack by fellow Big East member St. John enroute to a 16-2 win in the opening game. After allowing St.John two runs in the first inning, Louisville roared back to score four runs in the second inning and 12 runs in the third. The Cards tacked on four insurance runs in the fifth and final inning of the game for the 14 point win. Kristen Wadwell pitched a two hitter, going the distance and shutting out the Red Storm after a shaky first inning.

In Friday's second game the Cards played host Charleston Southern and the contest developed into a pitcher's duel. Cardinal pitcher Tori Collins held the host scoreless thru five innings and the Cards found themselves in a scoreless tie as they came to bat in the top of the sixth. Three straight singles by Jennifer Esteban, Melissa Roth and Chelsea Bemis gave UofL a 1-0 lead and a Colby Wherry sacrifice fly put the Cards up 2-0.

A home run blast in the bottom of the sixth gave Charleston Southern one back but Wadwell came in to relieve Collins and shut down Charleston Southern the rest of the way.

#15 Louisville closes out the action on Saturday against Youngstown State.

Written by Sonja
2/20/10

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The question of being "too young"


These 7th grade, middle school basketball players in South Bend are already receiving contact from women's college coaches. One of them recentely "committed" to Rutgers. (She hopes to date in 2 years and get her driving learner's permit in 3...) And, no..the one on the left is NOT wearing a UofL letterjacket...

The college women's basketball recruiting process doesn't draw nearly as much attention as men's college hoops or the granddaddy of them all (college football) but national attention was recently drawn to a 7th grade girls' basketball player who "committed" recently to Rutgers University and C. Vivian Stringer. Kalabrya Gondrezick has made up her mind that she's headed to Rutgers.

After she's cleaned her room and helps Mom do the dishes.

I know what you're thinking. A great publicity piece for the middle school, the girl and a chuckle that C.Viv surely must be the greatest women's basketball recruiting analyst in the land.

I know this neighborhood girl...she's maybe 10 or 11...that can make three pointers in her parents backyard. Someone get on the phone to Jeff Walz or Matthew Mitchell. She's a can't miss prospect.

It's happened before. Current Notre Dame freshman sensation Skylar Diggins was sold on Muffett McGraw and Notre Dame before she entered the 9th grade. Must have been the leopard skin scarf that McGraw occasionally dons for games that did it.

Class of 2010 Louisville signee Antonia Slaughter told anyone that would listen that she was headed to Louisville back when she was a freshman. Probably helped that her older sister Toni was playing for the Lady Cards...but Tom Collen, not Jeff Walz was the current Cardinal coach then. Fortunately, she turned out to be an excellent player for Christian Academy and the Cards have a good one coming in next year.

How early is too early to decide where you are going to spend your four years in college? There is a commercial on the radio, maybe you've heard it, where a young boy is telling his father that he's going to play for the Cardinals..that he's going to be able to play basketball because of some sort of medical miracle that has happened for him. I'm sure Edgar Sosa and Samardo Samuels had UofL and Rick Pitino in their headlights when they were approaching puberty. Childhood dreams are one thing. Holding press conferences to discuss your college recruiting process and progress updates when you're 12 yrs. old is another.

In all seriousness, the increasing amount of authority and pull that AAU ball and the coaches who run it have...now make the skills of young players a year round factor now. I have a friend who has a daughter who plays on a "club" travelling volleyball team and area high school volleyball coaches are already making contact with her parents about her enrolling in their schools.

She is 11 years old.

The fact is this. There are very few women's college basketball programs that make money for their universities. UConn, Tennessee, Stanford, Notre Dame...maybe a handful of others. A lot of the others without the national name recognition are out there shaking the bushes and scouring the nursery schools for the next Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Candice Parker or bionic women that will get fans into the seats, raise the program to a national recognition level and secure the coach's job for the next four years.

It is good that athletics and competition are being stressed to the youth of America...don't get me wrong. I'm all for healthy youngsters. Great skills that will help one later in life. But, there is a seamy side to it, also. A local high school assistant basketball coach recently told me that AAU and Club coaches are "warlords..mafia bosses" when it comes to the talent they posess 8 months a year. He went on to say that these coaches "attend the high school games, sit within earshot of the bench and the huddles and shout out instructions to their stars whenever they get the chance."

Coach Bob says dribble drive to the hoop. Coach Dave says rotate the ball and set up a good shot. Player John is confused.

When I was a kid, we used to play backyard basketball and would occasionally get up a team and ride our bikes to a neighboring subdivision to play kids from that neighborhood. Sometimes, the janitor of the local high school would let us "sneak in" and play on the court on Saturdays. There were no "maximum performance skills camps" or "all age, high hopes potential sports academy enrollments" around. Or the exorbidant fees associated with attending one. Is $2,000 too much to pay for a preteen to participate with other preteens in a 3 month league not associated with any school? Are those days of purity and innocence are gone for youth that want to play and get good at a sport?

I remember a quote from the late, great professional baseball coach Casey Stengel. He was asked about the future potential of one of his young ballplayers on the New York Mets. Casey wowed them when he said:

"Let's see...he's 19 years old now. I think in ten years, if all goes according to plan...he's got a great chance to be 29."

I'd expound more on that loss of innocence, but I've got to hit the door and catch the long awaited, highly anticipated hoops tilt between Miss Mary's Kinderschool and Bright Futures Daycare. I'll twitter, facebook, text and send up smoke signals with the results later.

These 4 year olds can flat out ball.

Written by Paul 2/18/10

Exciting basketball

Here at Cardinal Couple, we put the emphasis on women's sports...especially those at the University of Louisville. We'll spin away from the Belknap Campus today, though to take a look at possibly the most exciting team in Kentucky high school girls basketball.

Meet Marion County. Nestled on the outskirts of Lebanon, KY...the school boasts a girls basketball team that is 27-1 and ranked #1 in Kentucky. How are they running thru the rest of high school girls basketball in the state? Surely they are strong with senior leadership and years of basketball experience?

Guess again. The stars for the Lady Knights are two freshmen and a sophomore. Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, one of the freshmen, scored 25 points in her last game...a win over Louisville Mercy Accademy. She is the daughter of former UofL guard Tick Rogers. Another freshman that hits for double figures consistantly is Makayla Epps. Her dad Anthony was a guard for University of Kentucky and is a Lady Knights assistant coach. Rounding out the youth brigade is sophomore Bre Elder....who tossed in 18 points against Mercy.

Before you marvel at the success of these youngsters, keep in mind that they've played together in AAU ball for several years. All three were on the varsity as 7th graders and have worked closely with Marion County head coach Trent Milby. Marion County's only loss of the year came against an out of state opponent...Cincinnati powerhouse Walnut Hills. In state, they play in the highly competitive 5th region. Against the best in Louisville's 7th region, they are a perfect 4-0...downing Manual, Mercy, Christian Academy and Sacred Heart.

Way too early to tell where the talented trio in Lebanon are going to play their college hoops...but one would figure that the girls have had plenty of contact from UofL, UK and Tennessee. And, with two of the three having dads that played college in-state, it would figure that there's a little parental pull for those respective universities.

For now, though...it's the excitement of high school hoops for the terrific threesome. And, a possible dynasty over the next 4 years headquartered in the sleepy little town of Lebanon.

Written by Paul
2/18/10

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lady Cards end the skid 77-61 against Marquette


Freshman Asia Taylor gives her best performance of the year in Louisville's 16 point win tonite in Freedom Hall. And, baby...the best is yet to come.

Give the freshman from Columbus, Ohio 14 points, 8 rebounds and some dominating inside play tonight as the Lady Cards end a five game losing streak against a hard nosed and physical Marquette team tonight in Freedom Hall. Along with Monique Reid (26 points and 16 boards) and Becky Burke (19 points and yes...several rebounds!) the Cards weather a mid second half Marquette run and won going away.

The stat lines don't tell the whole story. Feel free to check them in entirety in the paper tomorrow or online...the real story of tonight's game was the long awaited breakout performance of Taylor. You'll notice Louisville shot 66% in the second half. What you won't find in those stats is Taylor getting 10 second half points and getting up close and personal with the Marquette front line. Potential...meet reality.

Louisville looked like they were going to surrender the 11 point lead they had worked so hard to create early in the second half as the game reached the 10 minute mark. 51-47 and junior Marquette guard Angel Robinson scoring at will and getting to the free throw line against the Cards. Two things happened at that point. Keisha Hines re-entered the game and Taylor came to life. Although Hines played very briefly this evening because of foul woes, her brief return seemed to spark the Cards to muster a rally that allowed Marquette to get no closer the rest of the way.

Taylor scored 10 big second half points for Louisville down the stretch and with Reid's silky smooth inside moves, the Cards rediscovered their offense and pulled away. Burke got 12 of her 19 in the final twenty minutes...and playing defense and going to the boards. Maybe it's the magic of Freedom Hall...but this looked nothing at all like the team who lost to Big East cellar dweller Pitt on Sunday.

It is a Louisville team that has few options as they go into the final three games...but the options are potetially good enough to maybe just work out. Gutsy Shelby Harper is playing 40 minutes a contest at the point. Contributing where she can and getting a little better with her point guard skills each time she steps out on the court. She's not Dez Byrd, Patrika Barlow or Sara Nord yet...please don't get me wrong here, but she's learning and improving. Reid is proving she is a definite scoring machine, Burke regaining her shooting touch and Gwen Rucker giving the Cards precious minutes on the front line when maladies happen like Keisha Hines getting saddled to the bench with foul trouble. Rucker will finish this season and head to a successful volleyball career at UofL. For now, though...she's Louisville first option off the bench when things go badly for the foul prone Hines. Brandie Radde, the progidal daughter back in uniform, helping where she can...experienced and determined. One could mull over the reasons and wherefores involved with Rachel Story remaining warmup bound...seven Cards hit the court tonight and Story wasn't one of them. Nevertheless, she cheers from the bench and encourages in the timeout huddles. Keisha...well, she's just always going to be Keisha. Hard working, foul prone and not willing to give an inch to the opposing center...something occasionally sends her to the bench with foul trouble early on. She can score inside but falls too often for the charges and switches other teams employ against her. Still, she's talented and dedicated. And, she's the biggest player on the team.

Taylor is the missing piece and the upside for the future. Few knew about her horrible leg injury during her senior season...ending her high school career and putting her months behind the rest of the squad in conditioning, training and learning the Walz style of ball. Now that it looks she's finally playing to her potential...sadly, the season's end is drawing near. She'll be one to watch during her sophomore year. The girl definitely knows how to play hoops and she's learning the way that Jeff Walz wants her to perform the task. A little more paitence with her shot and knowledge of what these wishy-washy Big East refs consider "travelling" and she'll be just fine.

The whole Big East is up in arms on the proliference of travelling calls being metered out by Big East officiating this year. Spin moves by a player with the ball almost automatically get the whistle. Combine a crossover and spin move and you don't stand a chance. A rules reinterpretation or referees awareness clinic is needed. No one is anteing up their money and going out to the games to see officials roll their hands around in a circle 15-20 times a game. And, it's not just Louisville fans that are fed up with it. Rutgers women's basketball fanatics have had it with the quick whistle. DePaul, Notre Dame...the list goes on. As far as the UConn fans go...hard to tell. They're up there on their own little clowd and we all know that Big East officials turn the other way when Maya Moore or Tina Charles commit an infraction.

This season will draw to a close after three more regular season games and an appearance in the Big East tournament. Unless the Lady Cards can finish strong and win the rest of the year and steal one in the Big East Tournament, they probably won't get an WNIT invite.

But...look out next season. And beware the Asia influence at Louisville.

Written by Sonja 2/16/10

Breast Cancer Awareness Night for Lady Cards Tuesday

The 7 p.m. game Tuesday night is Breast Cancer Awareness Night. Wear your pink and get out there in support. One of my best friends in high school was a victim of breast cancer...gone way too soon from what had been a very productive and positive life.

We'll have a full report on the action after the game.

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Ladies softball ended the three day Houston Marriott Classic with a loss to Ohio State 2-0. Still, a very good start to the season for the Softball Cards. They went 4-1 and return to play this weekend in another tournament. Sandy Pearsall has three quality pitchers on this year's team and the best catcher in all of NCAA women's softball in Melissa Roth. Good luck this weekend!

Written by Sonja
2/16/10

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lady Cards lose at Pitt 72-69

It was a frustrating way to spend Valentine's Day night. Even the home cooked meal by my dear husband and the bottle of wine didn't soothe the angst and frustration of watching the Lady Cards lose another one...this time to 1 game Big East winner Pitt.
Sure, I got over it...and the rest of the evening went fine, but this version of the Lady Cards is going nowhere in the post season but back to the classroom.

No WNIT, definitely no NCAA and an early exit from the Big East tournament. They simply don't have what it takes to win this year. There are a variety of reasons..choose whichever helps you sleep at night...but I'll be surprised if they can rally behind the home crowd on Tuesday night and beat a very average Marquette team.

It doesn't mean I'll cheer any less or drop any support for them. They're doing what they can with what they have. They are young, learning, still making a ton of errors and misjudgements and disappear at times. Walz will tell you that for every good thing that they accomplish, they have the knack to neutralize it with a miscue.

Next year brings five new players into the fold. It also brings the return of Dez Byrd and Tia Gibbs becomes available. It will be interesting to see how Walz mixes the new with the old and the present, future and past. He needs finishers. He needs game changers and rally starters. He needs a aura of "can do" and the aggressivness that he's facing every night when the Cards go up against Big East foes.

Louisville simply could not catch up with and put away a very sub-par Pitt team last night. Give Becky Burke for a big first half to keep the Cards in it...but where was she in the final twenty minutes? Zero rebounds for the entire game. Five second half point and 5-19 shooting for the game. Brandie Radde with 26 minutes and a goose egg in the total points column. Monique Reid with 20 points...18 of those in the second half...but no help at all in the first twenty minutes. Shelby Harper, scurrying down the court, producing so much more than you'd expect of a walk on freshman. Give her 40 minutes, 11 points, 9 assists and 7 turnovers yesterday. Give her someone the remainder of the year that can give her 5-10 minutes of rest per game. Watching Rachel Story languish on the bench is getting old. She needs more than two minutes court time or she needs to give up her scholarship, transfer or somehow get out of Jeff Walz's doghouse.

Keisha Hines continues to fight on. A double/double for her yesterday against a tough as nails and physically talented Pitt front line. Her fatigue at times is obvious but she doesn't quit, back off or surrender. A talented back up center to give her the 10 minutes of bench time she needs per game just hasn't developed in Gwen Rucker. Rucker's performances have been adequate at best and not as good as her breakout freshman season. She wasn't even going to play basketball this year but agreed to join the team because of the lack of depth in the middle.

Jeff Walz wants to return women's basketball back to the status it was when Angel Mccoughtry ruled the court. It's doubtful he'll ever find another Angel McCoughtry...but there's no reason he can't build a talented team that can compete night in and night out. The blowouts this year have been embarrasing and numbing.

The Cards have four more regular season game before they head to UConn for the Big East tournament. Currently at 11-14 and 3-9 in the Big East conference, they need to sweep the final four and win at least one in the Big East Tournament to draw any WNIT interest. Not trying to be a doomsday prophet or negative Nellie...but it simply isn't going to happen. Not with the current mindset, performance abilities and players remaining on this team. The four remaining opponents (Marquette, Seton Hall, South Florida and Rutgers) are beatable and not powerhouses in the Big East this year.

Unless this Lady Cards team finds a little heart, hustle and gumpton...they will lose all four.

We'll still cheer, support and hope for the best. We'll look for postives in the performances. But, we'll also realize that in this season from hell that this version of the Lady Cards was undermanned, overrated and disappointing. The season is taking a big personal toll on Jeff Walz. His "in your face" firebrand style on the sidelines just doesn't seem to be having any positive effect on this group of freshmen, walk on's and former bench warmers.

It needs to change. Indications are that it will. We'll be waiting and watching.

Written by Sonja
2/15/10

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!


A very Happy Valentine's Day to all associated with women's athletics at the University of Louisville and roses and chocolates to the UofL women's softball team.

The softball Cards won two games yesterday in the Houston Marriott classic. They knocked off Baylor 6-5 in the opener, jumping out to a 6-0 lead and hanging on for the win. In the nightcap, UofL defeated Houston 7-2 with sophomore Tori Collins taking the mound and tossing a career high 11 strikouts. Action concludes today with Louisville facing Ohio State.

On the hardwood, Jeff Walz and the Lady Cards square off against Pittsburgh in the Peterson Event Center. The 5:30 tipoff will be shown nationwide on ESPN2. Louisville (11-13, 3-8) looks to end a four game losing streak when they take on the Panthers. Pittsburgh (12-11, 1-9) is also on a four game losing streak.

For Louisville, it's back to a thin roster. Only eight Cardinals will be available for action today. The Cards will be looking to get Becky Burke out of her current slump. The sophomore guard has totaled only twelve points in her last two games. Pittsburgh is feeling the effects of losing All Big East performer Shavante Zellous who graduated and was a rookie sensation in the WNBA past season.

A full tilt of UofL sports for the TV viewer today, with the men's team playing Syracuse in the Carrier Dome at 1 p.m. this afternoon. Be nice to your better half, get all your trips and shopping done early and enjoy what will hopefully be a great day for Louisville softball, women's basketball and a major upset victory for the men's hoops team. Maybe a candlelight dinner with the women's game on in the background?

And, don't forget to share your box of chocolates, girls...

Written by Paul 2/14/10

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Women's sports deals with losing and winning



First, the bad news...Freshman forward Ashley Rainey is done for the year. A team physician has recommended to Louisville head coach Jeff Walz that Ashley sit out the rest of the season. Rainey has been dealing with a variety of family and personal problems and was involved in a car accident Tuesday near her hometown of Bowling Green. She joins LaToya Johnson, a juco transfer point guard, on the sidelines... who has been sidelined again with recurring hip issues and will not be available for the rest of the season.

Although Nikki Burton has began practicing again and could be available for game action within a week, the current list of game available Lady Cards is down to eight again. Louisville plays one conference win Big East foe Pittsburgh on ESPN2 Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

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

Now, the good news. Louisville women's softball swept their doubleheader yesterday in Houston. They pounded Kansas in the first game 10-2 in a five inning game to kick off the Marriott Houston Hobby classic. All Big East conference selection Kristen Wadwell pitched the Cards to victory.

In the second game, Louisville took down #15 Baylor 4-1 in eight innings. Freshman pitcher Chelsea Leonard made her debut for the softball Cards a memorable one, tossing a 1 hit, complete game at the Bears. She struck out eight batters and had a no hitter going thru four innings. Colby Wherry's 2 RBI double in the top of the eight broke open a 1-1 tie and she later scored on a sacrifice fly for the final margin.

In the first contest, Louisville jumped out to a 5-0 lead after one inning against Kansas, led by a two RBI Chelsea Bemis single and then added 4 more runs in the bottom of the third to build a insurmountable 9-1 advantage. Wadwell went all five innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 runs and striking out 3.

The Cards continue today in action, facing Baylor in the opener and host Houston in the second game.

Written by Sonja
2/13/10

Friday, February 12, 2010

Are you ready for some softball?


UofL senior catcher Melissa Roth is an All Big East selection and was 2009 Player of the Year in the Big East. She's also has a quite pleasing personality and is a lot prettier than the sterotypical image of the catchers I remember from my youth...Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk.

Believe it or not, softball season is upon us and the #22 ranked University of Louisville women's softball team begins play Friday. They travel to Houston to take part in the Houston Marriott Invitational and will play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. First game is at 11 a.m. against Kansas. Better there than here at ice coated Ulmer Stadium, right?

The Cards are the preseason favorite to win the Big East crown. Besides the returning Roth, ace pitcher Kristen Wadwell returns for her senior year on the mound. The Aussie has tossed 75 wins in her career at UofL and was also an All Big East selection last year.

Both Roth and Wadwell were drafted in the USSSA Professional Fast Pitch Senior Draft recently. The pro league plays in the summer months and Roth was the 3rd selection overall.

Beside the dynamic duo, returning for head softball coach Sandy Pearsall's squad is a solid nucleus from last year's team. Hard hitting Chelsea Bemis, another All Big East selection, returns. Colby Wherry, Vanessa James and Kristin Austin are other starters back for the 2010 season.

The Cards will also play in the Charleston Southern tournament next weekend before opening the home schedule at Ulmer in the Cardinal Classic that starts on Feb. 26th.

Call me crazy, but softball in Louisville before mid-March is a bit dicey, given the area's weather conditions. Let's hope for blue skies and sunny days, not only this weekend in Houston, but also for the Cards late winter home opener against Saint Louis. Maybe a long series against Big East foe South Florida and the other top notch Florida softball team could be the ticket next year in the early season.

Down in Houston, the Cards get five games during the three day tournament...playing Kansas and Baylor on Friday. They face Baylor and Houston on Saturday and end with Ohio State on Sunday. Both Baylor and Ohio State are top 25 ranked.

Written by Paul 02/12/10

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sometimes things happen...



(A possible idea to cheer up the disappointed male fans of the University of Louisville women's basketball team. Be sure and tip your server properly.)

It hasn't turned out to be the kind of season Jeff Walz or fans of the Lady Cards were looking for after the drive to the NCAA Championship game last season. Sitting at 11-13 and 3-8 in Big East play, Walz's Cards have gone thru way more trials and tribulations than ever expected at the start of the season. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. Without making excuses for what is currently happining on the hardwood, it's important to keep in mind some of the things that have contributed to the less than average performance as the season rolls into the final five regular season games.

-Obviously, the loss of Dez Byrd at point guard had a major impact on how the guard play has performed on the court. Byrd was beginning to be the point guard that was a catalyst and factor when she directed the offense. Her slashing, scoring style and uncanny recognition in finding the open player hasn't been replaced. She'll be back next year to continue her career...an encouraging aspect.

-Other injuries have decimated the squad in a big way. LaToya Johnson, a capable back up to Byrd, is still having hip issues. Nikki Burton goes down with a hip injury just when it looked like she was beginning to show the skills that made her an All-State player in high school. Laura Terry's knee has kept the hard working, versitale front line performer at bay.

-The NCAA's ruling to keep Tise Wright off the court for her final semester has weakened the Cards front line. Tise may have not been able to contribute a ton of minutes if she had been able to perform but her accurate shooting in the paint and ability to rebound and block out are sorely missed. As a result, Keisha Hines is getting way more minutes than she can handle...excessive fouls being partially the result of the fatigue and overreaction early in contests.

-Although Shelby Harper has given her best effort at point and the walk on freshman appears to have a bright career ahead of her at UofL, let's face it...she's not the type of starting point guard that will win you a lot of games. Her size a big factor. Harper will become a great backup in the future, contributing valuable minutes off the bench...but too many times this year we've seen talented and larger opposing point guards dominate her on the court.

The Cards still have talent, no doubt. Monique Reid is a proven scorer and a solid force inside but her defensive abilities have diminished from her freshman year and she disappears in crucial points of games. Becky Burke is a better than average three point specialist but needs to become more active in other aspects of the game. Asia Taylor is just beginning to show some of the talents that made her an Ohio All-State selection but recovering from the extensive leg injury that ended her high school career has been a long process. All State selection Tia Gibbs will be on the court next season and is the type of guard that can take over games.

Jeff Walz has pledged that he and his coaching staff will continue to work with this team until the end of the season. It will need to be extended past the final game, though. Youth has its drawbacks and without a true leader on the court this year, the play has been fragmented at best. There are no Angel McCoughtry's or Candyce Bingham's on the court this year for the Cards...there are some very good athletes that need to become more decisive, aggressive and basketball savvy. When you consider that Walz's starting lineup for the St John's game had 2 freshmen, 2 sophomores and a junior...the toll that graduation and injuries have had on this squad becomes evident.

Don't give up on this team. This year's painful learning and growing experience will only serve as a grim reminder in the future that circumstances can affect performance. The incoming freshman class is deep and talented. The current freshmen will be better and more confident next year. The dedication and hard work to improve must come from within each player, though. Desire and motivation are fine things, but following thru on these concepts with hard work and practice are the key. The players have a very fine coaching staff to guide them back to a successful season next year. They still may pull a few wins out the remainder of this season. The success and failure of this, though...has to come from a commitment from each and every player to give 100%, listen to the coaches and dedicate themselves to hard work and the extra effort. Those who will not adhere and follow this philosophy need to look elsewhere for continuing their college athletic and academic pursuits.

Written by Paul
02/11/10

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Red Storm paralyzes Lady Cards 91-56

Tough times continue for Jeff Walz's University of Louisville women's basketball team...falling on the road today against St. John's. Louisville (11-13, 3-8) dressed only eight players for the game. Ashley Rainey did not make the trip due to circumstances at home and a minor vehicle accident in Bowling Green while there. LaToya Johnson is suffering complications from her hip injury and did not dress for the game.

Louisville fell behind early after a 4-2 start to the game, watching St. John's (20-4, 8-3) go on a 11-2 run to lead 13-4 with 15:34 remaining in the first half. By that time, Keisha Hines was already on the bench with 3 fouls. The Cards managed to climb within 6 points at 18-12 before St. John took off on a 11-0 run to lead 29-12 midway thru the first half.

With six minutes remaining, Louisville already had 16 turnovers and trailed the Red Storm 33-20. Asia Taylor headed to the bench with her third foul with 5:44 to go in the first half. St John's responded to the lack of Cardinal height and went on a 11-2 run to take a 43-22 lead with 1:43 in the first stanza. St. John's took a 46-24 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes. The Cards committed 24 turnovers in the first half and made a single free throw in the first 20 minutes. The Red Storm had 14 steals in the first half.

I debated whether to listen to the second half, but a quick trip outside during halftime convinced me that inside the warm, cozy house was the best option, no matter how bad the basketball action was.

St.John's started the second half on a 11-4 run and led the Cards 59-30 with 14:33 left in the game. Eventually, the Cards figured out that Shelby Harper needed a little help getting the ball up the court after three straight St. John's steals and that getting the ball inside to Hines and Monique Reid could produce points. Hines, however picked up her 4th foul and went to the bench at 59-32 and Louisviile trailed 62-36 with 11 minutes left.

St. John led 74-44 with 8 minutes remaining. Hines fouled out with 4:25 to go, after scoring 10 second half points. Louisville trailed 87-50 with 3 minutes left in the game but outscored the Red Storm the rest of the way...losing by 35 points.

All in all, a dismal effort by Walz's crew. Another drubbing by a top 25 opponent. Louisville goes to Pitt to take on the Panthers next, a 5:30 p.m. Sunday night tipoff. With five games remaining in the season, the Cards would need to sweep all to go into Big East tournament play at .500. They also need to finish with a 4-1 run to be elgible for WNIT action.

Lady Cards game moved to 2 p.m.


Dan Aykroid dressed for attending St. John's hoops this afternoon?

Because of expected rough weather in the Big Apple, the Lady Cards game vs. St. John's has been moved up to 2 p.m. Wednesday.

That'll really help boost the attendance, right? There may be more on the benches than in the stands.

Nevertheless, the Cards will try to break a three game losing streak against the foe in Queens, NY this afternoon. No word on whether Rick Pitino's guys will be there in time to watch, yet. They play the Johnnies in MSG tomorrow night. Unless they move the time on that one as well.

I'll be back in a few hours with the recap. Feel free to follow the action with me on 790 WKRD. Or go out and throw snowballs....

Written by Paul
2/10/10

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lady Cards head into the Storm



Outside threat Becky Burke will need a big game to quell the St. John's Red Storm women's basketball team Wednesday Night.

The Lady Cards are chasing the winter storm into New York to take on the St. John's Red Storm. It could be tough sledding in more ways than one. Kim Barnes Arico's surprising St.John's team is 19-4 on the season and an impressive 7-3 in Big East play. They have lost to three opponents that have bested the Lady Cards (11-12, 3-7) this year...Cincinnati, Georgetown and West Virginia.

The Red Storm does it with team work and tough defense. Only two St John's players average in double figures for the year (Da'Shena Stevens 13.9 ppg. and Shenneika Smith Smith 11.9 ppg.) but eight Red Storm hoopsters do see 17 or more minutes per game and eight players average 6.0 or more points a game.

St. John's holds a +5.8 advantage in the turnover column over opponents this year and holds opponents to 56.8 points per game while scoring 70.8. They are 10-1 in their home venue Carneseca Arena and went 12-1 against non-conference opponents.

They haven't played powerhouses UConn or Notre Dame yet this year..but they did defeat good DePaul and Syracuse teams earlier in the season and romped Seton Hall by 18 on Super Bowl Sunday. They're the best kept secret in Gotham City..barely 800 show up for home games.

For Louisville to have a fighting chance to win in Queens, they'll need consistancy in the offensive set and some players willing to shoot the ball. Too many times against UConn on Sunday, the Cards passed the ball around the perimeter and seemed reluctant to put up anything that wasn't uncontested or 3 feet from the basket.

The Red Storm will pack back into a matchup zone and force you to beat them from the perimeter before they transition out of it. With the addition of sharpshooter Brandie Radde to the lineup and the hot shooting Shelby Harper assisting Burke around the arc...the Cards have three better than average long distance specialists. They must put the ball up, though and allow Hines, Reid, Rainey and the rest of the UofL front line a chance to rebound, create and eventually draw man to man coverage.

Game time is 7 p.m. Wednesday. Next up for Louisville is a Valentine's Day visit to Pittsburgh. They probably won't be waiting with roses and candy.

Written by Paul
2/9/10

Monday, February 8, 2010

Halftime brings out the best of Louisville women's sports.

Halftime of the Louisville-UConn game Sunday featured a presentation of the past and present in women's sports at the University of Louisville. The parade of athletes old and new was impressive. The growth of Louisville women's athletics since Tom Jurich and Julie Herrmann arrived at Louisville amazing.

Back when I attended college, about the only women's sport that ever drew any attention or much of a crowd was women's basketball. The university I attended had a pretty decent women's basketball team at the time and sometimes several thousand would show up for a game. The other women's sports...nowhere near that kind of crowd. Field Hockey was lucky if we had 50 on the sidelines. And that included the teams. We literally played in front of coaches, referees and other players.

The University of Louisville is blessed with conference champions and NCAA powehouses in several women's sports beside basketball in case you haven't noticed.
The volleyball team won the Big East this past season and went to the NCAA tournament. Women's softball hosted the Big East tournament and also got a bid to the NCAA tournament. Field Hockey has hosted the NCAA Final Four a couple of times, the Big East tournament and the Field Hockey Cards are a Big East power and NCAA tournament team. Fans fill Cardinal Arena to watch volleyball, the Trager Center for field hockey and Ulmer Stadium for softball.

Women's swimming is top 15 nationally ranked. The rowing team and lacrosse teams have become nationally recognized and respected since the sports were introduced to colelge competition. Soccer is a Big East contender each year and track and field is favored to win the Big East tournamnt later this month. Tennis with Mark Beckham continues to improve.

We've come a long way, baby.

There is still much to do, though. Fan support is so important. Not just for the women's basketball team and volleyball. Women's softball plays in the best ballpark in Big East softball. Trager is a state of the art field hockey facility.

The busy spring sports season is just around the corner. The women athletes at the University of Louisville would love for you to attend their games. And, you just might have an excellent time.

If Rick Pitino can find time to attend a Louisville women's swimming meet...I bet you can squeeze in a couple of hours to watch the exciting sport of women's lacrosse. See you out there.

Written by Sonja

Sunday, February 7, 2010

UConn romps the Lady Cards 84-38



(It wasn't as bad as a seal bashing event...but the first twenty minutes was pretty close.)

Maybe it was because it was Sunday. Maybe Geno wanted to talk Super Bowl scenarios with his assistant coaches. For whatever reason, he called off the lead Huskies in the final twenty minutes in the Sunday afternoon game at Freedom Hall and UConn cruised home to a 46 point romp over Louisville.

The first twenty got ugly. Louisville, playing on emotion and heart, was down 11-9 with four minutes gone in the game. Freedom Hall crowd roaring and UConn looking to be a bit disoriented on defense. Too early to think upset...but a darn fun start to the game.

When in doubt...press. The Huskies started to, in earnest, and the score escalated. 16-9 in with less than a minute elasped. 20-11 with 13 minutes to go. 31-11 with 8 minutes left. 39-16 at the five minutes mark and a 54-18 advantage when they mercifully blew the whistle to end the first half. The only remaining question was if the Huskies would reach 100 and if Louisville could get over 30.

Fortunately, Auriemma has a heart. Maybe it was the jovial chat he and Louisville head coach Jeff Walz had before tipoff. The Huskies out scored Louisville 30-20 in the final 20 minutes with their second string in. Only 1-2 All-Americans in that bunch.

Folks in Freedom Hall got to see how a well-conditioned, coached and disciplined team plays basketball. Paul kept pointing out the spacing, cuts and shooting selections UConn displayed in the first half. I finally told him to shut up. Teasingly, of course. For Louisville, it was a struggle for all 30 seconds on the shot clock when they had the ball. Consider that 11 of UofL's 38 points came from the free throw line today. Also realize the Cards had only 3 assists for the game and 20 turnovers. UConn notched 12 steals and 12 blocked shots. I could go on...but you get the point.

Eleven three pointers today for the Huskies, most of them uncontested and wide open looks. Three for Louisville, two from Becky Burke early and one from Shelby Harper late. 37 of UConn's 54 first half points came from the dominating front line combo of Tina Charles, Maya Moore and slashing wing Carolyn Doty. Charles and Moore may be two of the best players in women's college basketball this year. Or in a decade.

This type of drubbing is not a novelty or anything new for the Huskies this year. What was surprising is that Geno took the foot off the gas for the final twenty and let the young Cards get some valuable game experience against the Husky scrubs. Scrubs that could probably finish second in the Big East if they were in different jerseys.

The Cards saw what it takes to compete on the next level today. 27 of Louisville's points today came from freshmen and sophomores, the future does at least look promising for Louisville. As for today game...like John L. Smith used to say...time to tear off the rear view mirror and keep driving.

The Cards head to New York Wednesday to face a surprisingly good St.John's squad next. 6-3 in Big East play so far with a tilt against Seton Hall Sunday. They take on the Huskies next weekend. They just might be able to stay within thirty of them...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Huskies mush into town Sunday

Maybe it is fitting that the ground in Louisville is covered with snow a day before Geno guides his dogsled full of Huskies into the Ville. These are no common, everyday lapdogs, you know. Led by Maya Moore, Tina Charles and a few other high school All Americans, UConn is the beast of the Big East, women's college basketball and could probably beat a few men's teams out there.

They do it with a surgeon's precision. Dissecting opponents with crisp passing, proper spacing, perfectly run offensive sets and dead eye shooting.

And, that's just in warmups.

Defensively they take opponents out of their game with suffocating full court pressure, an agressive, ball hawking man to man matchup and go to the boards with strength and authority.

The question people are asking is if there is a women's college basketball team out there that can hang within a dozen points of them. Delusional thinking that they can be beat is nonsense. How will the Cards fare against them? Anything within 20 points should be considered a moral victory. Geno does not let up. Starters have been in games with a minute to go and UConn up by 30. There is a bench full of All-Americans that sit idly by and watch the assault with the best seats in the house.

Hopefully, Freedom Hall will be filled with red on Sunday to watch the game. What the fans will see is a well disciplined and exciting Huskies squad go about their business of taking the Cards to the woodshed. It should be interesting to see how Monique Reid fares underneath the basket and if they can shut down three point specialists Becky Burke, Shelby Harper and Brandie Radde. Keisha Hines, Ashley Rainey and Gwen Rucker will have their hands full all afternoon trying to rebound against Charles and company and keep the Huskies off the boards.

Louisville is the next stop on Auriemma's dash thru the Big East. A game which could end up as the Cards worst home loss of the season. Kentucky and Tennessee pretty much dictated the terms to Louisville on the road earlier this year. UConn just might beat the Cards by 40. I hope it is closer.

Written by Sonja
2/6/10

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Welcome back Brandie

It was a welcome surprise to the Cardinal fans in Freedom Hall Tuesday. Brandie Radde back on the court after a year long sabbatical to work on academics. A new jersey number (44) but the same old Brandie...with the long, loping stride and dribble as she warmed up with the other Lady Cards.

Details on Radde were hard to come by after she abruptly left the squad last year. Rumors of problems between her and Walz were spread. Walz refuted these, saying that Brandie came to him and told him that she needed to concentrate on academics...to make that final push to keep her GPA high and follow up on her dream to eventually attend medical school and become a doctor.

Fortunately, I was able to find her on FaceBook, become a friend with her on there and follow her. She lived the life of a normal college student for a year away from basketball, joking about situations and exploits in her own life and talking with former and current college teammates on the site. Staying in shape by jogging and intramurals. Just being a typical coed at a major university. You had to be happy for her but you also wondered in the back of your mind if the Lady Cards 8th all time 3 point scorer missed college hoops.

Obviously she did. And, obviously she hasn't lost the touch that made her one of the best three point specialists in the Big East last year. In 26 minutes of action against Cincinnati, she netted seven points including one three, and made no turnovers playing for the first time in over a year.

Welcome back, Brandie. It's good to see that smile and that intense look when you're on the court containing an opponent or launching a three.

Written by Sonja 2/4/10

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lady Cards fall in overtime to Cincy74-68



Sometimes, your best just isn't enough. But, to lose to Cincy? This is depressing...

A mixed evening for Lady Cardinal basketball Tuesday night in Freedom Hall. Good to see LaToya Johnson back on the court for the Lady Cards. No points but a spirited effort at point guard. Even better to see the "Return of Radde". That's right, last year's three point bomber has donned a jersey and got 26 minutes in tonight on the court for the Cards. And she didn't look bad at all out there for her first apperance since a year ago. Seven points and no turnovers. I could go into a lot more platitudes here about positive aspects of Lady Cards hoops but the simple fact is that they would all fall short of this truth:

They lost to Cincy tonight.

Puzzling, disappointing and inexplicable. Down by eight at the half, up by six with three minutes left in the game. Led for over fifteen minutes of the second half. Then, a fold. Game goes to overtime. No baskets from the court in overtime. Free throws not enough to beat a UC team probably more surprised by the win than the shocked crowd in Freedom Hall.

Forget about the failure to cover a marginal outside threat in Bearcat Shareese Ulis. Ignore the inability to stop or foul out UC center Michelle Jones, who seemed to play most of the second half with four fouls. So what if Kahla Roudebush had ten assists against a placid and slow to react Louisville defense? Efforts that would draw praise anytime but efforts that were expected to be part of a UC loss in Freedom Hall.

The Lady Cards gave this one away tonight. Failure to put the foot on the throat and blow out a team that was waiting for it in the second half.

A shabby start to the second half of the Big East conference schedule. Despite the good performances by Reid, Burke, Harper and even Radde...this one was in the "w" column and the Cards couldn't seal the deal. Sunday brings more pain. UConn is the silent and deadly assassin and the Cards are the exposed victim. It won't be pretty.

3-6 in the Big East, soon to be 3-7. A rebuilding year, sure...but a chance to build a little confidence tonight that amazingly, unbelievably and surprisingly disappeared faster than the snow mounds outside Freedom Hall.

Written by Paul
2/2/10

Second half of Big East awaits Lady Cards

So far, the University of Louisville women's basketball team has played eight games in the Big East this season. Eight more to go, so...at the halfway point of the conference schedule, let's look at and grade the Cards performance.

RECORD: Walz's crew is 3-5 against Big East foes. No real blow out from any of the opponents yet and Louisville has led in each game they've lost. Only Notre Dame has looked convincingly dominant against UofL and that wasn't until late in the contest.
Big surprise there, they are #3 ranked in the nation. Late game rallies against Georgetown, Syracuse and DePaul fell just short and the Cards had West Virginia down at halftime before losing to the Eers.

Grade: C+

PERFORMERS: It's been the Monique Reid, Becky Burke and Keisha Hines show for Louisville for most of Big East play. Shelby Harper has gotten better at point guard and Ashley Rainey helping with some valuable contributions on the boards. Still, more is needed from Gwen Rucker and Asia Taylor on the front line and Rachel Story continues to get very few minutes at point guard. A healthy Nikki Burton showed she can play at this level and the return of LaToya Johnson will only help strengthen the Cards scant numbers.

Grade: B-

INJURY REPORT: Dez Byrd was the first Card to go down. Followed by LaToya Johnson, Nikki Burton and a still hobbled Laura Terry. Add in Tise Wright being hobbled by the NCAA and the Cards resemble an emergency room waiting lobby on a Saturday night.

Grade: Depending how you look at it...A+ for injuries received or D- for the effect it has had on the team.

THE ROAD AHEAD:

Out of the eight games remaining, only UConn looks to be a guaranteed "L" in the win/loss record. The Cards are capable of playing with St. John's, Pitt, and Seton Hall on the road. Capable of win in Freedom Hall against Cincy, Marquette and USF. The Rutgers game in the "RAC" to end the regular season is anyone's guess, but right now I'd have to hand it to the Scarlet Knight because of the home court advantage.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Louisville wins 7 of 8, takes a 10-6 record into the Big East tournament and may avoid playing in the opening round.

LOGICAL ASSUMPTION: The Cards lose to UConn, Rutgers and St. John's and head to the Big East Tourney 8-8. Definitely playing in the first round.

WORST FEARS REALIZED: Only Cincy and Marquette fall to Louisville at home and the Cards limp into Big East tourney play at 5-11. On the bubble to make the Big East tournament at all if this happens.

Stay tuned for the second semester. And no cheating or looking on your neighbor's answer sheet!

Monday, February 1, 2010

LaToya Johnson to return Tuesday Night?

Much needed depth for the Lady Cards could be on the way tomorrow night with the possible return of juco transfer LaToya Johnson to the Cards bench and rotation against Cincy in Freedom Hall.

Johnson, who has been sidelined with a hip injury since the Central Michigan game on December 2nd, was mentioned as possibly getting a few minutes against the Big East rivals. She originally was backing up Dez Byrd at point guard and dropped seven points on the Chippewas in a loss there in 25 minutes.

La Toya's gradual return to the lineup would give Jeff Walz an extra guard and a true point guard to use in the rotation that has been pretty much Shelby Harper and a few minutes from Rachel Story at the point over the last 12 games. Harper has been putting in 36-40 minutes a game at point for the Cards, a lot of minutes for a walk on freshman.

It would also give Walz another three point threat in the lineup. Johnson was a prolific three point marksman in her juco days...but didn't have much of a chance to demonstrate that ability for Louisville in the few games she played before the injury.

Here's hoping for a quick return to LaToya...she can be the calm before the storm Tuesday night when the Bearcats come to town.

The storm? #1 UConn visits Freedom Hall Super Bowl Sunday for a noon tipoff.