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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

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TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

-UT Martin comes to Louisville remembering last year

-Report from the road...It's raining in Charlotte

The University of Louisville women's basketball team returns to the
KFC YUM! Center on Wednesday noon...looking to avoid a repeat of
last season. The Skyhawks ran into a Louisville team that was looking
for some redemption after losing two out of three games in the Duel In The Desert holiday tournament in Las Vegas. The 9-5 Cards had no troubles with
Tenn-Martin, winning 92-67. Shoni Schimmel led the way with 24 points and
Monique Reid added 20. Louisville led at the half 50-25 and shot 39-78 (.500)
for the game.

It was the last non-conference game, as it is this year, before the Cards went into mainline conference play. Let's look at the 2011-12 Skyhawks:

Record: 6-5

Wins: Belmont, Air Force, So. Miss, St. Louis, Evansville, S.Ill-Carbondale

Losses: Purdue, Ind. State, Memphis, Vandy, Central Arkansas

Current Streak: 2 wins in a row.

Who to watch:

-Heather Butler, a 5'6" soph. guard who averages 21.1 points per game. She had 29 against the Cards last year, playing all 40 minutes and going 7-14 from three point range.

-Jasmine Newsom, a 5'7" soph. guard that is good for 18.9 points per game. Newsome had 16 points against Louisville last year in 29 minutes.

-Jaclissa Haislip, a 6'0" soph. guard/forward who leads the Skyhawks with 6.0  rebounds a contest. She grabbed six vs. Louisville last year and had six points in 22 minutes.

The Skyhawks play in the Ohio Valley Conference and shoot .389 from the field, allowing opponents
.434. They are 98-289 from three point range (39%).

Louisville looks to carry on with their current four game win streak. At 11-2, the Cards are #13 in the nation. Faced without the prospects of having last year's leaing scorer Monique Reid the rest of the season, Louisville will look for alternative ways to score in the paint. One candidate who may challenge for that role is redshirt freshman Shawnta Dyer. She's had two big games in the Lady Cards last two outings and is playing with more confidence and talents each time out.

The game is the first of two in the KFC YUM! Center on Wednesday, the men face BIG EAST foe Georgtown later that evening.

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(From the road, 10 a.m. Charlotte)

CARDINAL COUPLE has troops on the ground (soaked ground) in Charlotte. Here's what we've seen so far...

It was an eight hour drive from the Highlands to Charlotte. Mostly uneventful, passed lots of Cardinal decked out vehicles on the journey and arrived here around 4 p.m.  The Marriott that we're camped in is nice...full service bar with Phil Leotardo (Sopranos) twin brother as our congenial bartender. Beer prices reasonable ($4.50 for 12 oz. Bud Select) and some sort of mini-eggroll appetizers. The game plan is to get over to the Epicenter downtown and go to the UofL Fan Appreciation party on the rooftop. Light rail is the way to do this, from what the locals tell us...our advance scouting party has tested it and it comes recommended...so after a few pre-party suds, we say good-bye to Phil, and the hotel van takes us to the light rail stop about a mile down the road.

Louisville needs a light rail system. We were going uptown to the downtown and I had a pocket full of $1 coins, generously dispensed from the automatic ticket machine. We got there in about 10 minutes, passenger cars packed with Cardinal fans and a well dressed man carrying a big briefcase and looking especially nervous. Unibomber in Charlotte? Nah...just an uptight businessman.

We're about an hour early for the free food and drinks, so we go to an adjoining bar and meet and greet Cardinal fans. We see plenty we know. Bill and Barb, Dana, Ralph, Brucie and the Sportsman Supper Club boys...including the legendary Tasso Harris. The rooftop is packed with Cardinals. It's good to see Valerie Owens Combs. She always smiles and laughs when I tell her she's the fifth best Lady Card in history. She never asks about the four in front of her. 

Denny Crum is here, posing for pictures and signing hats and such. He seems genuinely happy and pleased to be here. I mention we're Facebook friends and he nods and smiles. I think I could have told him that I was Johnny Van Zant and I wanted him to join Lynyrd Skynyrd and he would have smiled and nodded.

Wonder what a signed UofL Belk Bowl hat with Denny's autograph would go for on E-bay? 

The party was a big affair. Hot Sauce is supplying the music, switching from rock to country and hip-hop effortlessly. We Cardinal fans are a dancing bunch. The lead singer refers to the crowd once as the "Kentucky Cardinal fans". We forgive him. It was well intended, if a bit misguided. Things are still going full speed when we decide to head back to the light rail around 10:30 or so. We call ahead and the Marriott van is waiting to haul us back to the hotel. We stumble off the light rail, pile into the van and amuse the driver with our tales of the evening as he barrels down the street to get us back to the lodging. 

Tillie the tour guide has long since disappeared and her twin Flo has surfaced. She's still doing "the Elaine dance" from Seinfeld and I'm trying to convince a
group of dis-interested Charlotte citizens that we will beat N.C. State on Tuesday. A group of teenage girls are giggling in the corner of the rail car. We must be the comic relief.

A final nightcap with Phil, we nod to Tony, Syl, Chris and Paulie in the corner, and it's off to bed. A sound night's sleep. Awaken to the pitter-patter of rain.
Meander down to the lobby for coffee, Internet access and more coffee. Still raining. Breakfast is a fun affair. Tilly needs aspirin, our waitress is from Peru and named Nelly. Lil Wayne, 50cent and Dr. Dre are no-shows. Still raining.
A lively discussion develops concerning the origin of grits and we're informed by a couple at the table next to us that Susan Sweeney Crum was there lat night (I didn't see her) and works for Public Radio now. Still raining. Several of us leave breakfast and return to our rooms. Kickoff is 10 hours away...high wind advisory for this afternoon and rain is supposed to be gone by 3 p.m.

Go Cards!

Paul
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