Friday, March 22, 2013
FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-For the "Blonde Blur" it went by way too fast
(David Watson hosts today's CARDINAL COUPLE. He takes a look at one of the most popular Lady Cards to wear the Red and Black...or grey and white...Shelby Harper.)
For Jeff Walz, it was a decision based on attrition. With barely enough guards available to hold practice, the third-year Louisville head women's basketball coach turned to the bench and saw injuries and a diminutive freshman guard that had walked on the team near the start of the fall to help out with practices and to fill a chair on the Cardinal bench. Attention Cardinal fans --this lineup change -- Shelby Harper is now your starting point guard.
The freshman from Allen County-Scottsville, near Bowling Green, KY. had delivered a solid high school career and a couple of the current Lady Cards were familiar with her mad dash, up and down the court style of point-guardmanship. They got quite used to it the majority of the 2009-10 season, for the former walk-on began starting in January and was in the starting lineup for 17 games. She ended up second on the team in assists and second in three-point shooting percentage.
The 2009-10 team took their lumps and ended up with a 14-18 record. It was a season of being out-numbered at times but the squad will probably be one of my favorites for a long time because they battled against adversity, low numbers and injuries and never gave up.
One wondered how Harper would fit into the 2010-11 Cardinal women's basketball plans. Stellar guard Shoni Schimmel had arrived on campus and Becky Burke and Tia Gibbs were available to give the Cards good strength in the backcourt. Harper returned to the bench but appeared in 27 games for UofL as a valuable substitute. She continued to draw oohs and aahs and applause from the Cardinal fan base for her helter-skelter, continual hustle appearances and Louisville came back from the depths of despair to record a 22-13 season and advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
More guards unloaded their baggage in the UofL dorms in 2011-12. Jude Schimmel and Bria Smith proved their mettle and Harper continued her role as an off-the-bench spark for the Cardinals. This Cardinal squad was beset by the injury bug again but managed to go 23-10. Harper saw action in 30 games and fans delighted in seeing her and Jude as a backup guard tandem on the court together. Both barely tall enough to get on the adult rides at the State Fair but delivering large performances whenever they entered games.
We see Shelby Harper as a senior this season and the spark plug, motivator role continues. A rare start on senior night, a season of providing brief stretches of inspired, hard-working minutes for a Cardinal squad that will play its (hopefully) final TWO games in front of the faithful at the KFC YUM! Center on Sunday and Tuesday.
Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday she was bringing Cardinal fans to their feet with her five-threes made against Cincinnati.
Her take? Her advice to those that will remain after she graduates?
"Enjoy every minute of it. Try as hard as you can. It goes by way too fast."
It's gone by way too fast for us also, Shelby. Hard to believe we won't see that face -- showing that look of determination when on defense -- next season on Denny Crum Court.
Coach Walz summed it up pretty well when she said:
"I told her parents that if my daughters grew up to be like Shelby, I'd be quite OK with that."
Shelby will never get any taller. She will, however, have a large spot in the hearts and admiration of UofL Women's Basketball fans forever and that spot will grow as years go by.
Blonde Blur? Love her.
(Editor's Note: Some of the photos used in this article are from Charlie Springer. www.uoflcardgame.com The best ones, of course.)
Still plenty of time to get those tickets for UofL WBB in the KFC YUM! Center for Sunday and (we just know it...) Tuesday action in the NCAA Tournament.
Ticketmaster, KFC YUM! Center Box Office, from that shady guy standing on the street corner...whaever it takes. Man up, buy a ticket and support the Lady Cards. You don't want a Blue Raider in the lower bowl of the YUM! do you? Yikes!
Also, don't forget to try your luck in the CARDINAL COUPLE NCAA Women's Tournament Pick 'Em Contest.
25 entries in as of 7 a.m. today. Take a chance, fill out your dance card for a chance at a $25 Chili's Gift Card. The prestige of being the best. Totally awesome, dudes. Your not a scaredy cat, are you?
Leave your picks in the comments section of today's article or you can e-mail them to:
Don't delay. The tournament is just a day away. Make your day. Have a say. C'mon and play. OK?