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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Incredible YUM, BIG EAST review



MONDAY @ C.C.

-Louisville 2nd in nation in WBB attendance

-BIG EAST still crowded at top
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-gone too soon...
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The University of Louisville womens basketball team is in their first season of home games in the KFC YUM Center. The beautiful, state of the art downtown arena has been a popular venue to watch the Lady Cards play hoops in...Louisville is second in the nation (behind Tennessee) in womens basketball home game attendance...averaging 10901 per game after 11 contests. The Cards seem to like it there...going 10-1 in games played there.
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How are the other attendance figures per game in the BIG EAST for womens basketball? Here's a breakdown by school:

CINCINNATI 1,041.... NOTRE DAME 8557.... SETON HALL 543
CONNECTICUT 9885.... PITTSBURGH ....2348....SOUTH FLORIDA 1195
DE PAUL 2512 ....PROVIDENCE 249.... SYRACUSE 1259
GEORGETOWN 964.... RUTGERS 2938.... VILLANOVA 569
MARQUETTE 1417.... ST. JOHN'S 2635.... WEST VIRGINIA 2671

Several of the schools have more than one place where they play home games. Connecticut uses the XL Center and Gampel Pavillion. St. John's has played in Carnesecca Arena and Madison Square Garden...Seton Hall has both Walsh Arena and the Prudential Center available. Taking all sixteen schools into account, BIG EAST womens basketball averages 3125 a home game.
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We have to wonder what kind of effect it has on a visiting team in the KFC YUM Center...used to crowds of 1200 or less to encounter over 10,000 screaming UofL fans. A few of the visiting players and coaches we've heard from claim it doesn't distract them...but we think that may just be "coach and player speak." We know what other fans think about it...a Rutgers fan in attendance Saturday for the game against Louisville commented that "it sounded like a 747 about to take off" several times during the game. A couple of visiting fans from Dayton told us that the YUM is "the loudest place we've ever attended a womens college basketball game."
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Arena size and other competition for the dollar no doubt affects attendance levels. Three schools play in arenas that seat less than 3000 (Providence, Seton Hall and Georgetown). Six schools have home contests in arena designed to seat under 10,000 (DePaul, Marquette, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St, John's, Villanova). 15,000 and under seating is the case at Cincinnati, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, South Florida, and West Virginia. Only Louisville and Syracuse are over 20,000 in seating capacity. Major pro sports are present and taking place at the same time of year in nine of the BIG EAST school locations.
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It is a testament to the support and fervor of the Louisville fan base that the LADY CARDS are second in the nation. Coincidentally, attendance started to soar for Louisville women's basketball when a young lady from Baltimore, Maryland showed up on campus. Attendance increased each year Angel McCoughtry played for Louisville. After her graduation, the fan base still grew...fawning over diminutive Shelby Harper and the gutsy night after night efforts of Monique Reid. Both are back this year and Shoni "Showtime" Schimmel was recently voted your favorite Lady Card here at CARDINAL COUPLE. T.o hear the roar of Louisville fans when the team gets on a run...or Schimmel or Burke knock down a three is pretty incredible. Gives you goose bumps and makes you glad you're a part of the "magic on Main." Monique Reid calls it amazing and reports that the players get very pumped up for each appearance in the palace by the Ohio.
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A little past the halfway point in the BIG EAST regular season schedule finds two teams still undefeated in conference play...Connecticut and DePaul. Those two will face each other this Saturday at Gampel Pavillion. Notre Dame has one loss (to UConn). They get a rematch with the Huskies at Gampel on Saturday, February 19th. The Irish end the regular season at DePaul on Monday, February 28th. Rutgers has two defeats (Louisville and UConn) but are faced with the tough task of playing Notre Dame and DePaul back to back and on the road in mid-February. It gets crowded after that...five BIG EAST teams have three losses (Louisville, West Virginia, Marquette, Georgetown and Syracuse). Although all nine statistically have a shot at winning the regular season...we surmise here at CARDINAL COUPLE that whoever wins the UConn vs. DePaul matchup Saturday is the team that will take the title.
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Villanova and Seton Hall are winless in BIG EAST play. Both remain on Louisville's schedule. Pittsburgh, USF and Cincy have but one win. The Cards face USF on the road Saturday, February 19th. Louisville has played and defeated Cincy (twice) and Pitt.
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Maya Moore looks to be well on her way to gather another BIG EAST player of the year honor for Connecticut...but who will join her on the All-BIG EAST team? If we had to vote today, we'd have to select Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), Kayla Alexander (Syracuse), Keisha Hampton (DePaul), Liz Repella (West Virginia) and Sugar Rodgers (Georgetown) to join her. We'll offer Monique Reid (Louisville), Tiffany Hayes (UConn), Angel Robinson (Marquette), Devereaux Peters (Notre Dame) and Da'Shena Stevens (St. John's) for a second team.
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BIG EAST Freshman of the Year looks to be a two way battle between Bria Hartley (UConn) and Shoni Schimmel (Louisville). Trailing them is Natalie Achonwa (Notre Dame) and Katie Plouffe (Marquette).
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BIG EAST COACH of the YEAR has some interesting possibilities. Doug Bruno at DePaul has done a masterful job so far. You always have to consider Geno Auriemma (UConn) and Muffet McGraw (Notre Dame). Jeff Walz (Louisville), Terri Mitchell (Marquette) and Quentin Hillsman (Syracuse) are just behind the leaders.
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Disappointment of the year so far? Maybe the way St. John's stumbled from a 5th preseason ranking to 4-4 in the conference and double digit drubbings by Louisville, DePaul, UConn and Notre Dame. The Red Storm does have the majority of the tough opponents out of the way, though...and if they can accomplish wins on the road at Marquette and West Virginia and defend the home court against Rutgers, Georgetown and Syracuse...we'll reconsider the tag.
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Pleasant surprise of the year so far? We're going with the LADY CARDS. Losses to UConn and Notre Dame were pretty much expected, the Marquette loss we can see...but wins over Rutgers and St. John's wern't envisioned by many. Louisville has several tough tests left and they have struggled away from the YUM CENTER...but if they can survive at Syracuse and continue the home advantage against DePaul, Georgetown and WVU...we think the selection is valid.
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CARDINAL COUPLE was saddened to hear about the recent death of UofL fan Dr. David Decker. He was a fixture at many UofL sporting events over the years and was a regular visitor here at our site. The friendly family physician loved Cardinal football with a passion and will be missed. Dr. Dave was also an accomplished pianist...we remember him tickling the ivories 'back in the day' with local legendary band CITY LIGHTS. Go easy, bro.
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