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Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Cardinal Couple - Basketball News

Welcome Taylor Johnson

Sheryl Swoopes has seen a veritable exodus of players from Loyola along with allegations of a poor atmosphere in the program.

Louisville is the latest beneficiary of that controversy and Taylor Johnson has signed the first of the paperwork to attend UofL and join Jeff Walz' roster.  Paulie wrote about her commitment earlier in the week, but now it's official.

Johnson brings with her some impressive stats from last year.  Averaging 15.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, a particularly impressive stat for a 5'7" player.  She posts some great point guard stats as well, with 4 assists, and pilfered the ball 2.6 times per game.  A 42.4% field goal percentage makes her a threat to score, and 79.5% free throw shooting will help The Cards earn that "F" in FRED.

Taylor will enroll for summer terms to get on campus as soon as she can after completing her undergraduate degree in film and digital media, with a minor in visual communication.

Kentucky's Revolving Door

I'm not one to cheer the misfortunes of another team, even a fierce rival such as is seen between UofL and UK, but the news at UK is certainly that, news.

After seven players and three assistant coaches departed, Matthew Mitchell is definitely in rebuilding mode.  The latest departure was Sophomore Alexis Jennings who was granted her release on Wednesday.

The rebuilding has begun, however, as Mitchell has re-hired a former assistant coach to return to the program in Niya Butts.  Butts left after Mitchell's first year as head coach at UK to be the head coach at Arizona.  Arizona decided not to renew Butts' contract in April.

Mitchell previously hired Kyra Elzy who was also previously an assistant coach at UK, and has since served under Holly Warlick at Tennessee.  Elzy will be the Associate Head Coach.

Mitchell is expected to announce his third and final assistant coach soon.

Good to be Back

I had to go look and see, but it's been over three weeks since I wrote my last article here on Cardinal Couple.  It's good to be back, but I had a delightful vacation in the meantime.  I'm looking forward to being back on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour again next Saturday..

Please don't ask me for horse picks, my best suggestion would be to pick one that has four legs.  My expertise with horses does not extend any beyond that.

You can find Paulie's Oaks and Derby handicapping information over at his personal website

AS USUAL, THE DISCLAIMER...Paulie's Picks are for entertainment purposes only and the site or author nor I make no claims of guaranteed financial success. That being said, the combination of Paulie and Sonja's prognostications have been very successful over the last several years. Proceed at your own risk. 

- JMcA


  1. I wonder with the addition of Taylor johnson going to shake up the starting line up?

    1. My gosh I sure hope so. She's why I'm excited about our new team. We did a great job last year but still looked out of sync too often. What a gift her experience at a crucial position will be. What a godsend!

    2. Tay Johnson the hits keep on coming. Scored 29 points twice last year once with 12 yes 12 rebounds. Scored over 20 points 8 times last year.


      Forgot to give link for more info on Taylor Johnson

  2. UK...seriously?!? So in spite of how the Guv tosses grenades at ULWBB as often as she can I try to hold off throwing rocks at her even when it is well deserved.

    That said...I have my limits. I don't know which is more amazing, Mitchell's total lack of introspection and foresight, his million dollar salary or his inability to keep coaches on staff which of course has lead the mass exodus of his ballers.

    Kyra Elzy at a quarter of a million bucks a year?!?! Niya Butts is the best the Guv can do as another assistant?!?! You folks probably haven't noticed but Butts may well be the worst WCBB head coach in the history of D1. UofA down in Tucson has won 14 conference games over the last FIVE SEASONS. Those of us out West are all well aware of the only reason she kept her job and completed her torture of the Wildcat WBB program and it has had nothing to do with her coaching skills.

    So I'm stepping up with a new moniker for would be...drumroll please

    Mathew Mitchell for the Unemployed Clueless Millionaire at the expense of UK donors and KY taxpayers

    Has a ring to it don't you think?

  3. Strange as it seems if UK keeps the players they have now (big if) they'll probably still have a tournament possible season. Can they reload fast enough after this year without a big drop off ? Doubtful. Matthew the Magician is the most productive coach UK has ever had. He's knocked down but might still be far from knocked out.

    1. UK can't reload if they don't have a rock solid philosophy about their program, the kinds of kids they are going to recruit and what those kids and their parents can expect if they sign up for the UKWBB "experience", or any other WBB program for that matter.

      This thing with Mitchell suspending kids for X number of games for unstated noncompliance with the program has been going on for several years. It's nothing new. The only new thing is that all these kids and asst coaches that are finally walking away from the program.

      Just so I'm 100% clear on this and I've told Paulie this offline about my sincere dislike of Walz screaming in the face of his kids during games. It's not cool, it's not OK and if I had a kid getting yelled at like that in front of God and everybody I'd probably pull them from the program.

      That said it comes down to what kids and their families were told during the recruiting process versus what happens when they sign up. In spite of Jeff's sometimes disturbing treatment of his kids the ballers that are leaving the ULWBB program aren't tossing grenades on the way out.

      Mitchell has benefited on the recruiting side from a huge halo effect of the UK men's program. Unfortunately sometimes the mindset of kids that like this image doesn't necessarily fit with team cohesiveness and stability. Mitchell has been falling back on "non-compliance with program standards" to justify his many suspensions over the past several years. Maybe he's just recruiting the wrong kind of baller and thinking he can change their worldview to fit with his ideal once they get in the program. I don't know but it isn't pretty.

      Finally because UK is what it is to Kentucky natives they've been getting the best native KY ballers. Because UKWBB also recruits nationally it looks like there may be a bit of a conflict between these "national" recruits and the KY kids that are obviously local market favorites. Maci Morris starting as a freshman is a good example.

      The bottom line is that both Geno and Walz have a public record of getting pretty animated and yelling at their kids during games. We don't see a mass exodus from either program. I've never seen Mitchell yell at any of his kids on the sideline, but they're still walking.

      You make the call.

    2. By the way I also think that Walz knows how to identify, hire, mentor and position high potential assistants for their future success personally & professional and the success of ULWBB...something Mitchell doesn't seem to yet understand.

      Cameron's recently renewed long term head coaching contract is proof of that. Like many things in life it sometimes takes a few years to see the positive product of your efforts. Good for all involved.

    3. I agree about Coach Walz in players faces. Early last year I thought he was close to hauling off and smacking Sam the way he had his two hands on her shoulders. I sure don't want to come across as a cheap shot artist because I admit I have not spoken out about this much. Until recent developments at other schools I just figured it's what coaches do . He was way to animated with that instance with Sam. Looks like he's out of control but he's not. Really doesn't matter because perception now is more important than reality.

    4. That's good point about the success of Walz former AC's. Heard at W. KY and the guy at Belmont. You know Walz is a great person and people benefit from being associated w person. If you want to know about a person look at there relationships. Walz has good rships ( except Malkey and Freeze hehe)

    5. That point about local UK in state recruits and "national" is an interesting take. Rumor was different rules for Epps and everyone else. Morris and Murray sure did terrific for freshman ranked in the high 50's. At least Morris isn't a defensive gem.

  4. Enjoyed the write up JMcA. Good move including disclaimer on Paulie's horse picks


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