Thursday, October 29, 2015
WBB: Jackson and Weatherford -- New schools, new motivations. THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
"TRANSFERS" HAVE BEEN HERE AWHILE
When Louisville women's basketball play-by-play announcer Matt Andrews took the podium the Louisville WBB luncheon and read the names Briahanna Jackson and Dakota Weatherford along with the rest of the 2015-16 Louisville WBB squad...more than a few people were surprised about these newest additions to the roster.
CARDINAL COUPLE got a chance to talk to both (aided by interviewer-in-training Arica Carter at the UofL WBB Media Day Tuesday and we'll have those interviews on our radio show...THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR...which airs at 11 a.m. Saturday mornings on WCHQ 100.9 FM and on the internet at www.crescenthillradio.com
( We'd do more radio, mind you. Howie Lindsey gives us seven minutes a week. 93.9 "The Ville" doesn't return our calls when we ask about the possibility of a show once a week to talk about the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports.)
I guess those obnoxious talking heads on ESPN have more appeal.
Let's look a little further into the two newest Walzian lab assistants.
B.J. TOOK A DARE...ACC BEWARE
Briahanna Jackson was tearing up the AAC at Central Florida in her year and one half stay there. She felt there was something better out there, though. Let's face it...we don't think of UCF as a perennial powerhouse in Division I WBB. She knew she had game. First team Freshman honors in the AAC. 28 points against UConn in her final game of her sophomore season.
She wanted to take that game, those skills to a place where she could contribute them toward a team effort focused on a run at a national title. She wanted to be at a school where there was hope and a promising future.
She contacted Louisville. There was interest. Coach Walz remembered the 21 points she lit up against Louisville in Puerto Vallarta in November 2012. The Cards guards (Bria, Shoni, Megan, Shelby and Jude) couldn't contain her.
B.J. came to campus. She liked what she saw. She met with Walz and agreed to the timetable and requirements in place to get her on the roster. She accepted the challenged, took the dare and moved to Louisville.
In that 18 month interim between arrival and joining the roster, she honed her skills and learned more about the Louisville game. She is not a social media butterfly...not filling Twitter, Facebook or Instagram full of her daily exploits. Instead...she put on her headband, laced up her Adidas one at at time and went to work.
Actions speak louder than words
Her teammates love her ability to create, score and defend.
She carries on a comfortable, easy and spontaneous patter with them. They are one. She is here and ready to help. She and Dakota have a close bond. They got here the same way.
DAKOTA TRAVELED EAST AND IS NOW AT PEACE
Dakota Weatherford started turning heads in high school. Not totally because of her stunning looks...but because she was taking Hamilton Heights to the Indiana State 3A Champonship in March 2013. Those skills were honed in the small town of Arcadia...a stop on US 19 North after leaving Noblesville.
The Weatherford's had the only basketball goal in the neighborhood...so the driveway was full of kids taking shots. Dakota was one one them, playing against the boys.
It helped the 5'6" guard develop her high, arching shot to prevent her attempts from getting blocked.
The Indiana All-Star left her small town for the small, compact University of Evansville campus. The skills were still there but the chemistry and playing time weren't. She started 26 of the 31 games the 15-16 Purple Aces played in 2013-14. She led the team in assists and steals. She was third in scoring. A starting point guard competing in the MVC.
After a year as a Purple Ace...she decided to attend Louisville in 2014-15 and concentrate on studies instead of hoops. She liked the big city feel of Louisville and the vibrant campus. She was also less than two hours from Arcadia.
About a month ago, someone told Jeff Walz she was on campus. Walz remembered the little guard with the quick hands and feet and asked her if she had any interest re-connecting with the game as a UofL WBB walk-on. She jumped at the chance.
She went on scholarship Tuesday. Walz beamed when he told the story of the walk-on who was always early for practice, did whatever the coaches needed and displayed off-the-charts hustle and determination.
TWO STORIES, ONE ENDING
Two people, from different backgrounds but same reasons for leaving places where they had found success. One who asked to come and be a part...and one who came and then was asked to be a part.
Sometimes, there is something else out there...bigger and brighter...and all you have to do is go look for it. Sometimes, the path is not easy. The wait, the anticipation becomes lengthy. There are setbacks on the road to redemption. There are detours getting to the destination.
Briahanna Jackson and Dakota Weatherford saw the rainbow and followed it to the end...which, in this case... is UofL WBB. They're frolicking with the other Belknap leprechauns and have their eyes on the ultimate.
The Pot O' Gold.
The NCAA Championship.
If you have any interest in the Breeders Cup races Friday and Saturday at Keeneland...Paulie has put his selections for both days over on his personal website. The tortured screams, complete and utter frustration, diabolical theory and conjecture...abandonment of all hope and logic are over. In other words, just another 24 hours in my life.
(if you don't like clicking links...)
These are, of course, for "entertainment porpoises" only and we'll advise that any day at the track where you leave with the same amount of moolah you came in with is a good one.