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Friday, January 21, 2011

UC looking for repeat


FRIDAY @ CARDINAL COUPLE:
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-Cincinnati visits the YUM Saturday.
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-High school hoops showdown this weekend.
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One couldn't blame UC head women's basketball coach Jamelle Elliott if she breaks into a smile when the UC bus rolls off I-71 as it reaches the Louisville city limits. After all, it was right here in Derby City last year when a UC team mired in the cellar of the BIG EAST pulled the shocker in Freedom Hall and defeated Louisville 74-68 in overtime. It didn't magically turn the Bearcats season around...they never climbed out of the cellar...but it did keep Louisville falling thru a 5 game losing streak that seemed to take a lot of of the fight out of the few Louisville Cardinals dressed and able to perform.
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Low numbers? Tell Elliott about it. She has played the season with 8-9 players and is currently riding a three game losing streak with her Bearcats. They did manage an eyebrow raising win against South Florida in conference play...but WVU, Rutgers and St. John's have been far from kind to the outnumbered Ohioans. They also began BIG EAST play at home with a solid thumping from the Cards. They are 8-9 on the season and 1-4 in the BIG EAST. One step out of the basement but a long way from the penthouse view. Given that UC begins an absolutely murderous stretch with this game Saturday...the synopsis here is that the Cards are going to get a initial ferocious fight from the Bearcats...but it will most likely implode on UC like it did in Cincy earlier this season.
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So...no different year, different venue, same results like last year?
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Not very likely. The Cardinals are smarting from a two game road trip that wasn't a bunch of chuckles and grins. Both Notre Dame and UConn posted 20+ points wins over Louisville...these may be the best two teams in the BIG EAST...but you figure that Jeff Walz probably would have been happier with a closer performance against the elite. Louisville limps home looking to play back yard bully against UC. They're mindful that they are already spotting a two game lead in the loss column to the front runners of the BIG EAST. No time to let the lead dogs increase the margin.
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The recent road trip served to prove that Louisville remains in that second flight of BIG EAST schools. Put them in business class with Marquette, Syracuse, Rutgers and Georgetown...not ready for the first class with perks status of a DePaul, Notre Dame or UConn just yet...but not back in coach with the Seton Hall, Villanova, Providence and Cincinnati travellers. The Cardinals are looking to get a 'feel good' win over the Bearcats before tangling with their next three BIG EAST opponents...Marquette, Rutgers and Georgetown. All three are winnable...all three are capable of handing UofL losses as well. It's the BIG EAST...there are very few cupcakes in this pantry; a lot of 'tough as rubber' steaks to cut through.
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If UC is to pull the David vs. Goliath act for the second year in a row...they'll need Shareese Ulis to perform a repeat of last February. She lit the Cards up for 23 in Freedom Hall as UC jumped out to an early lead, staggered to regulation tied with the Cards but found a second wind and took the contest in overtime. Ulis played well in the earlier 78-40 baptism this season in Cincinnati's Fifth-Third arena with 14 poins. She'll need to double that output if UC hopes to win this road contest. Ulis leads the Bearcats with 16+ points per game and the senior has been Elliott's major offensive threat this season. She'll need to be LeBron James, Kobe and Chris Paul Saturday for the Bearcats if they stand a chance of winning.
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We see Louisville winning for fun Saturday in front of the home cooking and Walz getting a chance to go deep into the bench. We also predicted the same thing last year. Maybe we should just hush up...
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Game time is 2 p.m. Sports Information Director Kim Pemberton reports to us that all 11,000 tickets available for the game are sold. (Open the 300 level, maybe?) Jim Kelch and (choose one...Paul Sanderford, A.J., Liz Sherwood, Terry Meiners, Tony Vanetti) will do the play by play and commentary on CARDS RADIO WKRD 790 AM / 101.7 FM. Wazoo Sports will also televise the contest...we're guessing Deener and Valvano in front of the cameras.
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Shelby Harper probably remembers the second game against UC last year. She was starting point guard for Louisville back then and logged 38 of the 45 minutes in the loss. She also drained five 3-pointers in the game...Louisville going 10-22 beyond the arc in the loss. Harper played only six minutes with no points in the first matchup last year. Harper hasn't seen much playing time this season but still plays with the same intensity and emotion when she does get on the floor with the other Lady Cards. It would be a great thing to see her catch a little extended playing time Saturday and knock down a couple of long range bombs. Those launches haven't been too kind to her lately...she's 1-16 on the season...her only three against UC. We also hope to see some additional minutes for Rachel Story, Polly Harrington and Antonita Slaughter against the Bearcats. Not sure of LaToya Johnson's status for the game...but if she can go...turn her loose. Let's hope the Cards can build up an significant enough lead where Walz can turn the bench loose.
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Here's your chance to see a lot of good girls' high school basketball this weekend...all in one place...as Mercy Academy hosts the Raatz Fence Classic. Seven of the top twenty teams in Kentucky...plus Cincinnati powerhouse Mount Notre Dame make up the 12 teams scheduled to do battle on Friday and Saturday night at the school off of Fegenbush Lane in southeast Jefferson County.
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The games begin Friday night with #2 Mercy facing #12 Perry County Central at 7:30 p.m. Saturday is a fiesta of hoops...Ballard begins the action against Lexington Bryan Station at 11 a.m. Bullitt East goes against #20 Lexington Catholic at 12:45 p.m. Perry County Central returns to the floor against #10 Sacred Heart at 2:30 p.m. #9 Butler plays Mount Notre Dame at 4:15 p.m. Owensboro Catholic tips off against Mercy at 6 p.m. and #1 Manual batlles #8 Marion County in the nightcap at 7:45 p.m.
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Some of the players to watch...Marion County's Makayla Epps, Kyvin Goodin-Rogers and Bre Elder. Manual's April Wilson and Kaya Styles will try to take them down. Owensboro Catholic's Rebecca Greenwell tests her skills against Mercy's Juliann Miller and Lauren Faris. Kendall Noble is having a great season for Perry County Central and Mount Notre Dame...who won four straight Ohio Championships from 2006-09...features Iowa signee Kathryn Reynolds.
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It wouldn't surprise us at all if both Jeff Walz and Jamielle Elliott make the drive over from the YUM to catch this action after their game Saturday...along with representatives from a lot of other Division I programs. Speaking of Walz...rumor has it he caught the red eye recently to watch a certain guard play in Portland, Oregon. We're guessing it WASN'T Portland Trail Blazer and Marquette sharpshooter Wes Matthews....
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Admission for the Raatz Fence Classic is $5 Friday night and $6 Saturday. (Shame they couldn't get Rockcastle County and Sara Hammond up here for this one.) Let's hope the recent winter storm doesn't prevent the out-of-city schools from getting here and that they do arrive safely...
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