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Friday, March 24, 2017

Louisville women's basketball -- Cards vs. Baylor tonight

WBCA All-Region Honorees Durr, Hines-Allen lead Cards into Sweet Sixteen play vs. Bears

Asia Durr and Myisha Hines-Allen are two of the 52 all-region selections for the WBCA All-America Team. They'll be in consideration for the 10-member Division I Coaches' All-America Team, that will be announced during the NCAA Women's Final Four in Dallas. A wonderful honor for these two. Our hopes are that they make that final ten list and are playing in Dallas when the announcement comes.

Kalani Brown and Nina Davis were also selected for the honor. The play for the Baylor Bears...who will play#13 Louisville tonight in the NCAA Regionals. The game will be on ESPN2 around 9:30 p.m. or so tonight. It'll follow the Washington vs. Mississippi St. contest in the Chesapeake Energy Center arena in Oklahoma City, OK. 

The Cards go into the contest a decided underdog against Baylor....according to the so-called "experts, talking heads and analyst gurus".  Baylor was the #1 seed in the Oklahoma City region. The Cards were the #4 seed. So, far...the rankings for this region have held to form...with Mississippi St #2 seeded and Washington at #3. Looking quickly at the other three regions...Bridgeport has the #1 seed UConn facing #4 seed UCLA and #3 seed Maryland against upstart #10 Oregon. In Lexington, the #1 seed Notre Dame gets #5 Ohio State and #2 Stanford battles #3 Texas. Finally, in Stockton...#1 South Carolina has surprising #12 Quinnipiac on their slate and #2 Oregon State will tussle with #3 Florida State. 

What must the Cards do to beat Baylor? 

(Say it in unison with me.....score more points) 

We'll look at (5) key factors in the contest that could determine whether Louisville will play on Sunday or not: 

1) "Durr"ection. Louisville has to have a big night out of the Douglasville, GA sophomore. Lately, that hasn't been a problem...she's averaging 19.2 points per game and has 114 threes on the season. Against a Baylor defense that will probably start guards Alexis Prince and Kristy Wallace...with Wallace being the most likely to draw the assignment on her...she'll need to move efficiently without the ball to get open looks and hope that Mariya Moore, Briahanna Jackson or whoever is running the assists counter is open for business and distributing. 

2) Close the bakery! Simply put, Louisville can not afford to have a turnover number in double-digits. When it comes to creating turnovers, the Bears run a part-time operation. They forced California into 24. Texas Southern coughed up 21. In the Big 12 Tournament, though, West Virginia committed only seven and Kansas St. was guilty of eight. Having Jackson back and available at point should help the Cards limit the miscues. Interestingly, Moore and Hines-Allen have committed the most turnovers on the Cardinal roster this season. It's time for those two to hang up their baking smocks and shut down the oven.

3) Let "Threedom" reign.  It was the turning point and factor in putting away a pesky Tennessee squad. Moore needs another 5-5 performance or better. Durr needs to be on the mark with her trifecta offerings. Anything that the Cards can get from Kylee Shook, Syd Zambrotta or even Jackson would be a benefit. The Bears allowed 5.5 made threes during the season and a .272 average on attempts. Louisville will need to blow those stats out of the Chesapeake bay tonight and have the ref crew raising both hands over their heads similar to when the Cards last played Baylor. 

4) Defense, defense!  It is the factor that Coach Walz stresses with great importance this time of year. Louisville has allowed 60 points per contest this season. Their opponents have averaged 36% shooting success. Defense starts with communication. Talking. Shouting out the switch, covering the outside shooter, making inside play difficult and preventing the dribble-drive and run-outs. Against Baylor, the inside game that the Bears use quite successfully has to be shut down. In the Cards seven losses this season, they allowed the victors an average of 76 points a game. South Carolina and Notre Dame (twice) scored over 80. We'll call the line of success at 70. If the Cards hold the Bears to that and score more than that, they'll win.

5) Free throws. Charity tosses are the 500 lb. Bears in the corner that everyone is certainly tired of talking about but can't be ignored. The Cards are at a 68% success rate on the season. They allow 70%. Louisville averages going to the line 11 times a contest. If that trend holds, we'll need to see the Cards sink at least eight of them. On the season, opponents have gone to the line 35 more times than the Cards and made 34 more. Durr, Hines-Allen, Moore, Taylor Johnson and Zambrotta are all above 72%. BJ and Walton are at 50%. Sam Fuehring at 65%. If it comes down to late fouling by the Bears, the Cards need to make sure they are getting the ball in the hands of the right player(s) and having "makers, not shooters" on the floor.  

I expect a close game tonight. I think the Cards will be able to slow the Baylor offensive juggernaut down and keep this one in the seventies. I don't think the Bears will have much success trying to stop Hines-Allen inside or Durr from outside...but Louisville will need to curtail what Brown, David and even Cox and Cave can do inside. 

Louisville will need production from "the Big Three" and freshmen Shook and Jazmine Jones would really help the win chances if they "are on".  Hopefully BJ is back to her old "flying around the court and making incredible plays" self and if Louisville can get contributions from Fuehring, Taylor Johnson and a few Syd bombs tossed in for good measure...they should be able to pull off the win. 

Walz and the staff have a plan. They are masterminds at getting a scenario together that will bring success. What they need is for the players to follow it and execute it properly. 

Will we see a repeat of the biggest upset in the history of women's college basketball? Will Louisville continue the quest to go dancing in Dallas? We'll know in about 14 hours (from the time of this article submission). Get in a nap if you need to, put on the coffee and hunker down by the TV or radio tonight and get ready for the game. 

If you're in Okla City and reading this, get loud, get crazy and pull the Cardinals through! 

Success is failure turned inside out.

The silver tint of the clouds in doubt.

And you never can tell how close you are.

It may be near when it seems so far.

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.

It's when things seem worse that you must not quit.



Walz, Myisha and Asia talk about the game, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant at the link below


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wisconsin no-hits Softball Cards...more on Baylor -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


Louisville softball faced #21 Wisconsin yesterday afternoon at Ulmer Stadium and the visitors handed the Cards a 10-1, five-inning loss that featured Badger pitcher Kaitlyn Menz tossing a no-hitter against Sandy Pearsall's squad. 

The Cards win streak ends at six. Louisville did manage a run in the bottom of the second to tie the contest. Tiarra Sanabria drew a base on balls and advanced to second on a Lillie Goetz fielders choice. Megan Hensley walked to load the bases for Jamie Soles...whose ground-out brought in Sanabria. 

Other than that, the Cards bats were held at bay. UofL starting pitcher Maryssa Becker was touched for seven runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings...Hensley pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed three runs and three hits. It was the first no-hitter thrown at UofL since Michigan performed the feat back in 2006

After 12 straight games at Ulmer, the Cards take to the road for a three-game series at Syracuse that starts tomorrow. Louisville is 18-8 overall and 3-0 in the ACC. 



When the Louisville women's basketball team faces Baylor late Friday night in Oklahoma City...they better (to borrow an old cliche) come loaded for bear. 

These Texan Bears from Waco have plenty of players who can hang a loss on an opponent and when they are on their game...there may not be a better team in the country...except Geno's dogs in Connecticut. 

Like many bears coming out of hibernation, Baylor started slowly against the Golden Bears from California in their last outing...but finished with a roar. 

 Baylor led just 17-12 after the first quarter, then cranked off a 15-0 run in the second quarter, including back-to-back three-pointers by Natalie Chou, and went into halftime up 40-20. Baylor had three players score in double figures, led by seniors Alexis Prince and Nina Davis with 16 points each. Kristy Wallace added 10 points and nine assists.

Down 20 at halftime is daunting enough...but with all Big-12 and starting center 6'7" Kalani Brown picking up two early fouls and watching 19 minutes of action next to head coach Kim Mulkey in the chairs...realizing that she would be back to add firepower to the Baylor attack had to be of great concern to California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. 

Quite frankly, California should have been placed in the WNIT instead of the Big Dance. They were 19-11 on Selection Monday, had gone 6-12 in conference play....were seventh in the Pac 12, got knocked out in the first round of the PAC 12 tournament by 22 points against Oregon St. and were 4-8 in their last 12 games. I'll say it again...Virginia got hosed. 

Mulkey presented Gottlieb with a baby-shower type gift during the shoot-around the day of the game...since Lindsay is about seven months into term. She should have given her a couple of aspirin or a fifth of red wine for pain relief. 

The Bears come at you with multiple threats and have complied some pretty impressive numbers. (This is where our Jeff McAdams moans...Paulie is about to start throwing stats out). 

Brown leads a balanced attack with 15.1 ppg. She's has plenty of company in double figure scoring...Alexis Jones is at 13.4, Nina Davis 12.6 and Alexis Prince 12.1. . Prince and Davis are regular starters. Off the bench, Beatrice Mompremier adds 8.3, Lauren Cox 8.0 and Kristy Wallace 7.5. These seven, plus Natalie Chou, average anywhere from 15-28 minutes a game.  

Baylor outscored opponents by an average of 89.4 to 55.0 during the season. They dismantled Winthrop 140-32. They scored over 100 points eight times.  

Height-wise...they are impressive as well. Brown, as we mentioned earlier, is 6'7". Cox and Mompremier are 6'4" and Prince and Chou go 6'2". Out of the top eight...there are two red-shirt seniors, one junior, three sophomores and two freshmen. 

The Bears have lost three games this year. Against UConn in a early season 72-61 loss at Storrs, they trailed by just three at the half. After being tied at 54-54 early in the fourth...Baylor went nearly four minutes without scoring, had five turnovers and missed seven out of eight shots. 

They also fell to Waco...during early February by a score of 85-79. Texas came out and "punched them right in the mouth" to start the game...according to Mulkey and led the Bears 47-35 at the half. UT shot 72% in the second quarter. Baylor fought back and tied the contest at 74-74 but the Longhorns hit seven free throws in the final 30 seconds to ice the win. 

West Virginia provided a bit of a surprise to Baylor in the Big 12 conference tournament final with a 77-66 beating of the Bears. Leading 39-30 at the half, the Mountaineers extended that to 65-44 going into the final quarter and hung on for the win. WVU's Tynice Martin had 32 in the win.  

Baylor. They can be beat. Not very often, but it is possible. Are they as good as the 2013 squad Louisville beat in the regionals. I will say "no". There is no Griner on this 2016-17 team...although Kalani Brown is pretty fearsome in the paint. No Odyssey Sims present...even though the Alexis duo does a fine job at the guard sports. Is Louisville as good now as they were in 2013? Another hard question, but I will say "no". There is no Shoni. Asia Durr can put up Shoni-like numbers...but isn't quite the on-the-court leader, driver and force on the court. 


The Cards are close, though. If Hines-Allen, Moore, Shook and Ms. Durr can ignite that fire we saw against Tennessee late and get a solid bench could be another upset in the making. Taylor, Slaughter, Reid were key factors in 2013. Myisha, Mariya and Kylee have comparable skills...if not better. 

A high scoring affair ahead? The numbers would indicate definitely...but Walzian defenses can...and some pretty powerful offenses to considerably less points than their season averages. Coach will tell you that defense and scoring more points than the opponent wins games. The Cards allow 60 points a contest. Accomplishing this against the high-powered Baylor attack will be a challenge...but Walz will have had four days to prepare, plan and scout these Bears. I like the Cards chances. 

Or, they could follow the Sylvia Hatchell philosophy. After winning their first game in the ACC Tournament, Hatchell was asked what the Tar Heels needed to do to defeat Syracuse. She responded: 

"I guarantee ya we're gonna be praying a lot"

We'll look more closely at what the Cards need to do to win in our Friday morning article. 


WNIT and ACC? 

The WNIT has a Sweet Sixteen now and two ACC schools are a part of it Georgia Tech knocked off UCF to get there and will face MTSU next. Virginia Tech downed Navy to advance and gets Penn St. next. Of local interest, Indiana also is a Sweet Sixteen participant .

The engineers move forward! Good job Techies and keep on rolling. 


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lacrosse wins, Baylor looms -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


The Duquesne nickname is "the Dukes". One would think it would be fair play, then...if Duke adopted the "Duquesne's" as their moniker...but as we know, with Grayson Allen on board, fair play is hardly in the Duke vocabulary. Or, maybe this "Dukes" thing is a tribute to Bo, Luke, Cooter and the rest of the crew from the late 70's - early 80's television show THE DUKES OF HAZZARD.

Duquesne sent their duchess contingent to Louisville Tuesday and they got "duked" by the Louisville Lacrosse team 15-6 yesterday. A win that looks great on paper but wasn't that phenomenal...according to coach Kellie Young: 

"We could have won this game 8-2 and I would have been very happy if we had followed our game plan. We kind of get distressed, get frustrated and then get emotional and make bad decisions. We have to stay invested in the game for 60 minutes at a time. We have to understand the scout, play the scout and stay within the system. I know it's crazy to be frustrated...but we are trying to hold our team to a higher standard and we're trying to do great things this season." 

One thing that was pretty awesome, if not downright great, was the multiplicity of scorers yesterday for the Lax gals. Jillian Balog got the first net-finder, Meghan Siverson and McKayla Conti received feeds from Madison Hoover and it was 3-0 Cards early. Taylor Webster dove into the scoring pool next and this one looked like it might be a runaway blowout early. 

The Dukes, though...with no assist from Roscoe P. Coltraine or Daisy Mae...struck back with two consecutive scores and it was a 4-2 contest with six minutes until the half. Elise Koehl acheived net success, Conti poured in another and Balog blogged about her second score to close the half.

It was 7-2 Louisville at the break and Hannah Koloski hadn't scored yet. What separate reality and far-away universe had I been transported to? 

Hannah opened the second half with a tally, alleviating my fears that I wasn't at the "Ellis" was the first of five straight for the Birds...Ashley Lynch, Allison Ferrara, Koehl again, and Siverson's second score set the margin at 12-2. 

(People ask me why I call the Lacrosse stadium "the Ellis" . It's because the initials L.L.S. sound like "ellis" when you roll them off your tongue. Or maybe it's in tribute to long-time Cardinal sports orthopedic surgeon Rudy Ellis. I haven't quite decided yet...maybe I could be thinking of my basketball buddy Ellis Blanton?) Or all of the above...Plus, it's positioned right cross from soccer's "Palace"...Lynn Stadium. 

The Dukes fired up the General Lee one more time and ran off three straight scores from Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and JoAnne P. McCallie to make it 12-5. I missed most of those...engaged in a conversation with WDRB reporter Stephan Johnson about the tragic shooting at the Tim Faulkner Gallery over the weekend  and the connection to the Louisville lacrosse program. Savannah Walker, who was a Louisville student and played club ball for the Louisville Club Team program died in the incident. Yellow ribbons were distributed at the game and a moment of silence took place before the contest. Johnson was there to do a story on the connection.

I also spent time explaining the basics of Lacrosse to Johnson and we discussed
why there weren't any players from Louisville on the Cards roster. The Cards recruit the hotbeds of high school lacrosse...Maryland and New Jersey....14 of Louisville's 27 players are from those two states. 

Backup goalie Lexie Ball took the field for the final 9:37 of the game for UofL. She allowed just one score and the Cards got goals from Julia Schmucker (which allowed me to use the phrase "Schmucker stuck'er in the net!) and second scores from Webster and Koloski to end the game in Louisville's favor 15-6. Ball's going to be a good one, continuing the strong tradition that current starter Brittany Read has established. 

Louisville heads to Evanston, IL to face rival Northwestern on Sunday. If the past holds any pitch'll rain and it'll be a tight contest. 


Post game interviews below. We got an airplane involved, but no sirens nor trains. 

Thanks to THE CARDINAL Sports editor Dalton Ray for helping me formulate the questions for Young and McNamara. A man who's beard puts mine to shame. Standing together, we probably look like a couple of roadies from the Grateful Dead tour to the unsuspecting.





The Louisville women's basketball team is in the Sweet Sixteen and travels today to Oklahoma City to face #1 seed in the region...the Baylor Bears...Friday night...somewhere around 9:30 p.m. 

As a reader has commented...and I agree with...I am surprised there is no send-off pep rally for the Cards before they head to O.K.C.

Or maybe I'm not. The WBB Cards have one horrible marketing program. Coach Walz and the players deserve better than this. I've seen way better at significantly smaller schools. Combine that with their media relations fails and maybe it isn't any wonder that only 5800 showed up for the 1st and 2nd rounds. I've seen dog racing get more publicity and media assistance. But, their egos are definitely top-five ranked....OK, back to the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports. Excuse the diversion. 

As much as I wish I was going to be there, unfortunately financial situations and health are going to dictate that I watch this one in Louisville. We looked good financially at CARDINAL COUPLE going into January...but a few unforeseen expenses, road trips to Martin, Nashville, Murfreesboro and the ACC donations literally non-existent since January have put us on a tight-rope in order to get through the year with any bank account balance at all. As far as a personal financing by me for the bucks there either. 

Sadly, my knees are getting worse, hip still degenerating and the tendinitis in my IT bands have reached new levels of tightness and making it hard to do steps or any long walking distances. Driving 11 hours is out of the question currently as well. Anyone willing to drop $1000 in the coffers or transplant this brain into a new body, please step forward now. 

(Thanks for cheering us all up, Paulie...) 

I love the call on radio that Nick Curran and A.J. provide. There have been many a road game this season where I've abandoned the video feed and retreated to my porch to listen to the call and "beverage".  Good times...

Kim Mulkey also power-lifts players...isn't that special?
Jeff Walz and his WBB squad will face a tough bunch of Bears in Oklahoma. We'll get into a more descriptive breakdown and analysis in Friday's column...but we'll start with the 86-46 dismantling of another bunch of bears...the California Golden reach the Sweet Sixteen. 

Lindsay Gottlieb, Cal head coach, says this: 

"They have a darn good team. I know they have to go to Oklahoma City first...but I think they have a great chance to be playing in Dallas." 

A keen eye there, Coach G. Sequential order is of importance in any accurate dissertation this time of year...

Kalani Brown, Nina Davis, Natalie Chou, Kristy Wallace, Lauren Cox. The deadly Alexis factor...Alexis Prince and Alexis Jones. This magnificent seven, along with a little help from their friends...has complied a 32-3 record. UConn early, Texas late in the regular season pinned losses on Mulkey's bunch. Improbable West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament knocked them off. 

Poor Texas Southern drew the misfortune of drawing them in the NCAA opener. 119-30 was that outcome. A forty-point drubbing of a Cal team that many questioned deserving an NCAA bid. 

But, they run into the mad genius of Jeff Walz next. We all remember 2013 in Okla. City. The biggest upset in women's college basketball. Wanna see that one? Click the link below: 


Kim is also known for the screaming death stare
Difficult...but not impossible. Is this Baylor team as good as the one in 2013 that Louisville beat? Is this Louisville team as good as the 2013 version? Does it matter? 

Kim Mulkey. Such a shy and non-controversial soul...She's taken Baylor to nine straight Sweet Sixteen's. She has talent galore. She's played two less-than-impressive teams so will the Bears handle a Cardinal squad with...perhaps...just as good, if not better talent? 

The Cards handled a tall and impressive Vols squad with defense, successful shooting and a strong finish. Louisville has faced their share of tough competition in Notre Dame, South Carolina, Maryland and Florida State...who are all still dancing. Asia Durr is putting up fantastic numbers, Myisha Hines-Allen the force in the paint, Mariya Moore has been re-born and exuding confidence and this Cardinal team is playing like a team and not just a bunch of All-Americans. 

We'll cover more on this match-up later. The shootout at the OK Corral. It should be a good one...


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Strong start to final quarter drives Cards past Vols 75-64...TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


Mariya prepares to inbounds
The University of Louisville women's basketball team used a 16-4 start to the fourth quarter to erase a one-point deficit and gain a 11 point, 62-51 lead over the first six minutes of the final frame and beat Tennessee in the KFC YUM! Center Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cards earn a berth in the Sweet Sixteen! Still dancing. 

A crowd of 5698 went ballistic over the Cards scoring stretch...that featured eight points from Mariya Moore and seven from Asia Durr. Trailing 47-46 after thirty minutes...the Cards Sydney Zambrotta started the fourth by forcing UT's Jordan Reynolds into a turnover from a steal and getting a driving layup by Moore. 45 seconds later, Moore knocked down a three and "we got a little Moore" when Myisha Hines-Allen found Moore on the wing and the junior drilled another trifecta to make the Cardinal lead 54-47 at the 7:23 mark. 

Durr took the reins next. Her free throw put Louisville put 55-49. She followed with two straight successful jumpers to build the advantage to 59-51. After a Hines-Allen free throw, Durr struck again with a layup in the paint off a nice feed from Moore and head Tennessee coach Holly Warlick called a time-out to talk it over...almost kicking the basketball before a player restrained her...Louisville leading 62-51 and 4:07 on the clock. Are the Vols looking for a place-kicker? 

DeShields being attended to
A scary moment with 2:02 to play when both Moore and DeShields went down on the court after a missed Shook jumper and Nared rebound. Trainers and coaches rushing to each fallen player. A leg cramp for Moore (drink your water and hydrate, girl!) and blow to the head to DeShields that necessitated taking her out of the game for 20 seconds before returning. 

UT would fight back several times over the waning minutes...cutting the lead to 67-62 after a Jamie Nared hoop and free throw at the 1:38...but the Cards went on a game-closing 8-2 run...featuring four Durr free throws, a Briahanna Jackson layup and a triumphant, breakaway Hines-Allen layup after a block and mad dash down the court while grinning broadly with 10 seconds left. 

To be sure...before the fourth, this was anyone's ball game. 

The Cards began well, racing out to a 15-9 lead after Moore's first of five threes at the 4:37 mark in the first. UT would battle back to tie it at 19-19 and lead 21-20 after a Diamond DeShields jumper before Jackson's layup with four seconds gave the Cards the one-point margin after one. 

The Cards would rally from a 27-26 Tennessee lead in the second and grab a 33-27 edge after a Sam Fuehring jumper with 3:26 until half. UT had been held scoreless for 4:52 before Nared nailed a couple of free throws...twice in a row to climb back within two before Fuehring closed out the first half scoring with a bucket 17 seconds before halftime. The Cards took a 35-31 lead to the locker-room...but few in the crowd were comfortable with it after a very competitive and exciting first half. 

Free throws were a matter of debate. The Cards took two in the first half and made one. The Vols were 7-14 from the charity stripe

Points in the paint were going Louisville's way...18-12 but Nared was waging a one-women war on Louisville with 15 points. The Cards had held Mercedes Russell to just seven points and DeShields had been limited to six...but one wondered if those two would explode in the final twenty minutes. 

Mariya awaits the pass
Nared's three a minute into the third frame put UT back into the lead 36-35. Louisville would eventually push back out to a six-point edge after Moore's third three made it 42-36 ...but UT finished the final five minutes on a 11-4 run. Jordan Reynolds' jumper sent the Vols to a 47-44 advantage but Hines-Allen countered with 22 ticks left to create the 47-46 Tennessee margin. 

The Cards 29-17 scoring edge in the fourth was augmented by 64.3% shooting for the ten minutes and a defensive effort that limited the SEC foe to 3-18 final period marksmanship for a abysmal 16.7%. Defense (and scoring more points than the opponent) wins games and the Cards fourth quarter containment of Russell (0-2) and the rest of the UT players was a big key in getting the win. 

Russell, a 6'6" red-shirt junior, was the focus of an intense recruiting effort during her senior year in high school between UofL and Tennessee. The Vols won the commitment battle but Louisville won the war Monday evening. Jordan Reynolds, Kortney Dunbar and Alexa Middleton...all Vol contributors...were subjects of various levels of Cardinal recruiting as well. Instead, Louisville ended up with Moore, Hines-Allen, Carter and eventually Jackson. Another obvious win for the red and black. 

A great game and another exciting moment right after it ended when I got to visit briefly with daily reader and comments maestro Mike D. and old college fraternity buddy and site regular Tom Roma. Good to see both of them and it's absolutely wonderful and I'm very happy that they came out to support their Cards! 


Cards still dancin' like Fred Astaire.
Free Throws -- The Cards were 10-16 for 62%. Louisville was 1 for 2 after three periods. They made enough in the final ten minutes to clinch the win...but not enough to get a letter here. Our standard is 70%. It wasn't met. 

Rebounding -- UT edged Louisville out with a 43-41 effort. In the fourth quarter the Cards did have a 13-10 we can't be too critical here. Hines -Allen grabbed give her a double-double with her 14 points...and Moore controlled nine (just missing a double-double with 19 points). I'll deem a small case "r" here...tracking down those missed UT shots in the fourth a very big part of the reason.

Effort/Execution -- We talked about the "big three" needing to do productive work in Monday's column and they did...with 56 points, 28 rebounds and just three turnovers. Shook was essential and a contributor in her 26 minutes and Fuehring and Jackson gave a lot of heart and hustle to the cause. This multi-faceted effort led to a Louisville win and the execution was crisp and precise when it needed to be.  A capital "E" was earned. 

Defense -- It may be the thing I'm most proud of from the Cards tonight. taking on a very talented UT squad, holding them to 33.3% shooting, creating 13 turnovers and not letting DeShields or Nunn take over. Yes, Nared was outstanding in defeat and caused a lot of headaches...but when it counted, Louisville slammed the door on the Vols offense at the end and that most absolutely and definitely earns them the capital "D". 



Cheerleaders prepare to...well...cheer! 
Survive and advance this time of year. It is the prime objective. Louisville did that in an exciting contest that turned into a Card party in the final ten minutes. I veered away from my usual analytical and subjective game watching routine tonight and viewed this one as a passionate (but restrained and mostly silent) fan. Can't get too crazy on press row, you know...

Give a lot of credit to the Vols for making this a tight affair for thirty minutes. They found their strengths early on and utilized them to effective measures. The portion of the game that usually decides who will get the "W" and "L", though...the final period...belonged to Louisville.

Durr, who has been good-as-advertised the vast majority of the season hit only one three all night but found other ways to score and contribute and her 23 points kind of snuck up on me. Hines-Allen, the warrior...wearing her heart on her sleeve...was "MyZilla" again Monday night. She wanted to keep dancing in March and got that accomplished. Oh, Mariya! What a great time to execute three-point perfection. I'd have to give her player-of-the-game for that and the overall execution, her 19 points and lighting the fuse that blew up the Volunteer firecracker. 

We think she chose correctly. Go Dana! 
Briahanna, Kylee, Sam, Jazz, Syd, Cortnee and Johnson & Johnson all did their part to assure the Cards will be travelling westbound for a Friday shoot-out at the OK Corral against #1 seed in the region Baylor...who obliterated California by 40...86-46.  

Two down, four to the March Madness show. 

The decision I take this old
body to Oklahoma...11 hours away or not? 

Best exchange of the post-game presser. Mariya Moore explaining her leg cramps: 

Mariya: "Our nutritionist, our trainer are always on me to drink more often." 

Walz: "That's water. She means water. Just want to make sure we clarify that. " 






We have a Sweet Sixteen sighting! Congrats to UConn, UCLA, Maryland, Oregon, Baylor, LOUISVILLE, Washington, Mississippi St., Notre Dame, Ohio St., Texas, Stanford, South Carolina, Quinnipiac,  Florida St., and Oregon St. on their advancement. 

(4) #1 seeds, (3) #2 seeds, (4) #3 seeds, (2) #4 seeds, (1) #5 seed (1) #10 seed and (1) #12 seed move along. Survive and advance. 

Four Pac 12 still alive. Three from the ACC and the SEC. Two from the Big 10 and Big 12, one AAC and one MAAC school as well. 


43-5  Kenny S., Cliff
42-6  The Deb Factor, Paulie
41-7  Curtis Franklin, Charlie Mc
40-8  Joe Hill, K. Starks, Perry S. 
39-9  Doug A, Jenny, Beth 

15 games to go! Out of the top 12, seven have UConn as the champ. Two have Notre Dame and Baylor, Louisville and Stanford are the champ picks from one entry each. 

Good luck all! If you don't see your name above and what to see how you're doing...feel free to ask in the comments section or e-mail Sonja at:


Monday, March 20, 2017

Louisville women's basketball -- KNOW THE FOE: Tennessee -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


While a lot of the city continues to melt down over Louisville men's hoops loss to Michigan on Sunday, we'll make it short and sweet on that later in the column. Our focus today here, as it rightfully needs to not that loss, Paulie's physical calamities or Louisville media coordinators. It is the upcoming match-up between Louisville WBB and Tennessee. 

Please come to the YUM! for tonight's game. It promises to be an exciting one. Cardinal women's basketball fans are among the best, if not the very best in the nation. You've been there for this team all season long. That's why the total attendance of 5400 on Saturday is so puzzling and, quite frankly, disappointing.

Lower bowl tickets are still available for only $17. BRING A FRIEND! (4) tickets for $40. We highly recommend this option! 

The Irish rolled out in support of Notre Dame for two games. South Carolina's arena was packed for Gamecocks women's hoops. UConn had standing room only for their start to the tournament. You want to be on the level of these teams? Then support your WBB squad like these fans do.  Walz wants 8,000 tonight. I think he's a little short. I want 12,000+ plus in the YUM! I'd like to see that lower bowl packed and maybe a curtain or two having to be opened. It's a 6:30 game. You'll be home by nine, in most cases. Come out tonight!

Tennessee looms ahead next for Walz's Cards. They are a very talented, explosive team that has one of the best guards in the nation, a strong inside game and explosiveness...but they are also a quandary. At 20-11, they've got some very impressive wins. 59-51 over Stanford...maybe the best team in the west. 71-69 over Notre Dame...who a lot of people think may be in the national championship game. 76-74 over South Carolina...who is a very possible Final Four squad. Beating Mississippi St. 82-64 in the SEC Tournament. Yes, that #1 seed Bulldog squad. 

Then, there are the losses. Penn St. handles them by 14. Virginia Tech by 4. Baylor by 22 and Texas by seven. SEC losses to Ole Miss and Mississippi St. Auburn by 18. Georgia. And twice falling to that powerhouse Alabama. Alabama did qualify for the WNIT. They squeaked by Arkansas-Little Rock by two in second round action. 

So...when the sleeping giant is aroused in can do dangerous and ominous things. When snoozing, it's as harmful as a Wagner symphony. (Sorry UofL men's fans...) The thing is, how do you keep Diamond DeShields, Mercedes Russell and Schaquilla Nunn asleep? 

Pressure defense on DeShields is as good as anywhere to start the scenario. She is talented, she can score and create but she can be a little flashy and careless at times and that's where you want her making her mistakes. Attacking UT on the boards is essential as well. Russell is 6'6" (and it seems like I memorized every tendency she had when the Cards were recruiting and almost signing her) but she can be a little slow in running the court and less than eager to go inside and mix it up at times. Wear her out by making her sprint back on defense and use Kylee Shook, Sam Fuehring, Ciera Johnson, Cortnee Walton, Bionca Dunham, Hines-Allen, a wooden chair, beer carts, on-court security guys and Jedi mind tricks to bang, bump, bully, belly and banish her from her comfort zone. 

Jamie Nared is the third of UT's "Big 3" that can be a game changer. At 6'2" she can be a force inside and she's the Vols second leading rebounder behind Russell and she can also step outside and make you pay with the mid-range jumper and the three. An older, more experienced version of Kylee Shook, if you will. Schaquilla Nunn, back and banging after sitting out last year with a broken foot, has given Holly Warlick big numbers lately. The red-shirt senior that previously played at Winthrop adds another dimension inside for the Vols attack. Toss in a little Jordan Reynolds, Alexa Middleton, Kortney Dunbar and Meme Jackson to assist and bolster DeShields at guard and spell the bigs and you have the Vols contingent. Holly doesn't go deep...she only has 11 on the roster and against Dayton on Saturday she went with seven primarily on the court. 

DeShields was huge with 24 in the win over the Flyers. Double-doubles for Nunn (15 pts./14 boards) and Russell (14 pts. and 10 boards). Nared had eight points and seven grabs.  

The Vols defense Saturday would have gotten then a small case "d" by our FRED metrics. They forced only eight turnovers...but had six steals and held Dayton to 4 for 20 from the deep and less the 35% from the floor overall.  Louisville will need to be alert, pass not dribble, and move the ball rapidly around the offensive sets to get Durr, Moore and Shook those trifecta ball open looks. A penetration specialist like Jazmine Jones may find it tough going amongst the trees of the Tennessee interior...but Myisha should have a field day posting up and powering inside with scoring against the foul-prone Nared and less-than-spectacular Russell inside defensive skills. 

Louisville needs to be smart, play smart, listen to the coaching staff and make sure they are recognizing who is hot, who is open and take good shots. If the Cardinal team does this..they can win this game by 15 or more. Excessive turnovers, missed defensive assignments and not curtailing DeShields could make for a long night for the Cards, though.  UT loves to get to the foul line as well...against the Flyers they were 22-33...while Dayton was 11-14. If the wrong set of officials get the call for this one, we might be there watching free throws until 10 p.m. That would be bad for Louisville...who finished the regular season at just 69% free throw accuracy. 

Get Durr the ball. Need we say it again? She's had fifteen 20 or more point games this year...which is second in the ACC behind Syracuse's Alexis Peterson. By far the leader in threes made in the ACC and, in her last nine games, has scored 22, 31, 30, 28, 24, 17, 28, 26 and 27 points in them. 

Let Moore create and dish. She does it well. Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster marveled over the way Mariya kept finding Jazmine and Asia after the  Mocs loss to UofL. We hear the complaints about her lack of scoring and point to 10 assists. That's 20 or more points she helped create. Mariya's just fine, thank you. 

Louisville wins this game by doing the things they do well and by using a little brain power along with brawn power. They fall if they lapse into the turnover and poor decisions mode that has affected them several times this year. We hope the Tennessee Bears show up instead of the Tennessee Bulls. We hope the UT vs. Alabama team appears instead of the UT vs. Notre Dame one. And, we hope YOU show up, too. 

March madness. It affects and afflicts us all. 
The only cure is more basketball. 



I will not belabor or moan about the loss to Michigan too much here. It was a good season for Louisville MBB overall. Three things: 

1) Quentin Snider 0-9 from the floor
2) The Cards could not hit threes
3) Michigan could hit threes

Losing a nine-point lead is distressing but it happens. Missing wide open dunks happen. This Cardinal team will be fantastic next year. And maybe Michigan is the team of destiny this year...with the airplane scare, improbable march through the Big 10 tournament and surprising Moe Wagner. 

The off-season will be a time of reflection for these talented but ill-fated Cards. Learn from it and improve. 



Jamie Soles and Caitlin Ferguson delivered two RBI's each and Maryssa Becker fired a four-hitter to lead Louisville past Pitt 8-2 and sweep the three-game series at Ulmer Stadium. 

A three-run third and four-run sixth were the keys to the Cardinals conquest of the Panthers. 

Ferguson, Soles, Jordan McNary, Becker and Megan Hensley all had two hits in the Cardinal win. Louisville is now 18-7 on the season and a perfect 3-0 in the ACC.

The Cards step out of conference with a 6 p.m. Wednesday game against # 23 Wisconsin at Ulmer. 

Sandy Pearsall was impressed with her diamond dwellers: 

"I was really happy with how our team played today," said UofL head coach Sandy Pearsall. "I thought their pitcher came fired up to stop our offense - and she certainly was throwing well and controlling us early on - but Maryssa Becker was also controlling them. So the first part of the game was definitely a pitchers' duel. Our team needed to find a little bit of aggressiveness at the plate and took care of it. Defensively, I thought we made some great plays and our defense really came through for us again. And that's the key – we've got to play defense."


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Louisville women's basketball -- Cards knock Mocs out of Dance 82-62...SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


( The Cardinal Couple Pick 'Em Challenge standings are at the bottom of today's column. We got some good pickers! )  

It took the University of Louisville women's basketball team a few minutes to get the engine running against Chattanooga yesterday in the KFC YUM! Center during their first round game of the NCAA WBB Tournament...but once the Cards picked up the defensive pressure...all things fell into place in the 20-point win over the Southern Conference foe. 

Trailing 8-5 after four minutes, Jeff Walz decided he needed someone to put a little high-octane energy in the Cardinal Cannonball. Hello, Jazmine Jones! The Talhassee, FL freshman entered the game and sank her first shot on a set up by Myisha Hines-Allen. A minute later, the combo stuck again and Jones gave the Cards a 9-8 lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the way. After Sam Fuehring connected inside, "J.J." knocked back another jumper...set up by Mariya Moore this time...and the Cards were up 13-8.

The surge energized Hines-Allen..who delivered the Cards next two on a nice steal and layup to set the tally at 17-8 with 1:48 left in the first quarter. Moore had been busy setting the table for teammates but took time to eat and her three completed a 15-0 Louisville run over 4:40. At 20-8 the KFC YUM! crowd (estimated at 5400 and maybe 3500 Cardinal fans) began to breath earlier and the Cards, despite allowing two Queen Alford threes in the final 50 seconds, held a 20-14 edge.

Asia Durr had been silent in the first ten minutes, with only a free throw to her name, but she was about to grab the microphone and turn the volume up to 11. 

Hines-Allen was having big fun in the paint and produced the Cards first two baskets of the second period. Briahanna Jackson entered the game at the 9:03 mark to an appreciative roar from the Cardinal faithful.  Durr bombed in a three with 7:36 until half and the Cards had their first double-digit of the contest at 27-16. Two minutes later, she provided a door-slammer (should we call it a Durr-slammer?) to a brief Mocs run with a jumper. Queen Alford shed the regal robes and busted another three to get the Mocs close at 29-24 but Durr responded her a three to give the Cards a 32-24 lead. 

Jim Foster's club wasn't quite ready to climb aboard the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and head south just yet. Another four-point run had them within four at 32-28 and Walz called a quick 30 second timeout to stem the tide. It worked...the Cards finished the half on a 8-2 run that featured a Kylee Shook bucket inside, another Durr three, Jones layup and Jackson free throw.

40-30 at the half. The Cards were winning the points in paint battle 20-8, had six fast break points and were shooting a sparkling 60.7% (17-28). Durr had 12 points, Hines-Allen 10 points plus eight rebounds and J.J. 8. Moore had five assists for the Cards.  

It looked as if the Cards were finding their key components and getting valuable lifts off the bench. No halftime cookies yesterday for Paulie...he was stuck up by the curtains in Sec. 119. There WILL be a rant about that at the end of today's column. You just might want to avoid reading it if you are of a sensitive nature...

Louisville and Chattanooga pretty much traded baskets and turnovers in the third quarter. The Mocs were still firing threes every chance they could get (6 for 14 in the first half) and Louisville was working the interior. Shook and Hines-Allen built the UofL lead to 46-36 in the first three minutes of the quarter. The Cards got balanced scoring for most the the 10 minutes...baskets by Durr, Fuehring and Jones gave Louisville a 58-47 lead with 2:10 to play in the period and the score stood at 58-49 after three. Durr led the scores with 18 and Jones was up to 12 points...along with Hines-Allen. 

A 9-0 Louisville run to start the fourth quarter put the whipped creme on top of the pumpkin pie. Durr was on a three-point feeding frenzy and after hitting her third one of the quarter with 3:57 to play... the damage was totaled out to 77-55 Cards. Walz began emptying the bench at the 2:50 mark...and Brianna Jones layup with 31 second left made it 82-62 Louisville. 

A nice opening round win after a slow beginning. Durr showed the consistency we've come to expect for her and the smile that can light up a room. 27 points on an afternoon where she only had one after 10 minutes. Hines-Allen another dominating performance inside. Moore taking to assists like a squirrel does to sunflower seeds by passing out 10 and a major contribution off the bench from J.J. with 14 points and Kylee with 10. Cortnee not needed yesterday; a great learning experience afforded to the young'uns in the paint and a chance to save Ms. Walton for the battle ahead Monday night against Ms. Russell & Company.

Louisville moves on. They'll face Tennessee Monday night at 6:30. The Vols finally pulled away from pesky Dayton to win 66-57. 

Cardinal fans...5400 in the arena for these games is a absolute joke. Especially when about 1/3 were from the other three schools. Get out, get tickets for Monday night and give these well-deserving women your support and attendance. It'll be the last time you get a chance to see them in the KFC YUM! Center until fall. Help them get by a tough Tennessee opponent. 

Yes, we know...the ticket prices are higher. The men are playing in Indy. But, this team could use your support Monday night. They thrive and succeed when the KFC YUM! Center is rockin' with the red-clad folks getting loud and proud. 

Tennessee will bring theirs. Do we really want to have more orange in our facility than red? Buck up, spend the extra couple dollars and support your team. 


"Lamont, run down to that ticket office and get us
a trilogy of tickets for Monday night. Pick one up
for Aunt Esther,. She'll scare Tennessee to  death.
Free Throws -- 3 for 8 in a game where only 32 fouls were called. Chattanooga went 10-12. 37.5% gets you no letter. Never.  

Rebounds -- A 34-29 edge for UofL. Hines-Allen the stud in the paint with 12 and Jackson showing why we are all so happy she's back with six in 19 minutes. We'll give the capital "R" out here.

Effort/Execution -- A 14- 0 fast break advantage is seldom heard of from this Cardinal we like that effort.  The Cards shot 61%. Excellent! 46-16 domination in the paint. The "Big 3" all played well and got timely support from two freshmen and the return of B.J. Yes, a capital "E" is the call here. 

Defense --  UofL held the Mocs to 37.5% shooting. They created 15 turnovers and had eight steals. Four Mocs did reach double figures but after that...six Mocs combined for just seven points. 10-27 three-point defense...we'll take it. Let's end the Fred segment with a capital "D".   



"Durr-mi-nation"  Asia Durr is a delight to watch on the court. So fortunate to have a cast that compliments, adds and contributes to her abilities. She's a special talent and draws the attention...which allows Myisha, Jazz, Mariya and the crew the chance to do their thing. 

No block party today. One of the worries going into the game was Chattanooga's Jasmine Joiner's ability to reject shots. She ended up with zero. A big, fat, "No". One block for the game for the Mocs. Myisha, Kylee and Sam were 15 for 24 from the floor. We'll take 62.5% from those three all day, every day. 

Action Jackson.  In her return to the court, B.J. logged 19 minutes, six rebounds, five assists, no turnovers, a steal and 1-3 from the floor. It's the little things she does, too. The defense, the tracking down of loose balls. Her guidance at the point. It's great to see her back, with a healthy back, and we sincerely hope she is ready and healthy for Tennessee. 


Jim Foster verifies direction to locker room. 
Second chances. It's said everyone deserves a second chance but the Cards got only four second chance points yesterday. Of course, when you shoot 61%, you not gonna have many...but out of the missed 23 shots...we'd like to see a higher number. 

Free throws. We hate to drag that horse back out into the starting gate again...but we're still in favor of Walz recruiting the entire Mercer County girls high school squad next year for free throw offense. Today, not a big factor but in the quest to win six straight games...gotta hit the ones that no one is guarding you on, Cards. 


One down, five to go. Against an opponent that you defeated earlier in the season by 16...and in the third game in three expected a more-rested Cardinal squad might perform better. They did. We hope the Durr efforts, the Hines-Allen strength and the Moore all-around play is present Monday night. The Cards will face a strong team on Tennessee that goes to the boards well with Russell and her paint buddies and the elusive and talented Diamond DeShields. An up-and-down UT squad with impressive wins and surprising losses in 31 games. Let's hope the squad that lost to Alabama twice shows up.




Here's an idea...Let's put a 60 yr. old man with two shot knees, a deteriorating hip, failing eyesight and the beginning stages of neuropathy 100 stair steps up from the court. 

Let's banish a guy who was the only Louisville media representative at the ACC WBB Tournament, present at several road trips and often the only one asking questions at post-game press conferences up to where he can reach the curtains and barely make out the players' numbers

First down, UofL! (What, we're not at football?) 
No hugs and kisses and a bunch of boos and hisses for the gigantically stupid and sadistic media relations/seat chart moron for that. 

Fortunately, a wise, trusted and VERY important member of the Cardinal basketball community has promised to change that for Monday night's game. Sonja won't be panicked that her husband will fall down and "go boom". 

My contempt for certain, "so-called administrative" ding-dongs at UofL continues to grow. Why do a certain few, who don't shoot, coach or create any excitement on the court have to ruin a situation (and do it knowingly with no regrets) for someone who has been a constant, comprehensive and consistent media coverer of WBB for over a decade and a fan for over 40 years? 

Hiya, curtain. My knees still hurtin'. 
My love for this squad, this team, this coaching staff and this fan-base is off-the-charts and never failing. Always has been, always will be. 

My furor and dislike of the self-important, self-effacing and bloated egos of a certain few who discriminate against the handicapped is real, too. With fair and just reason. You can stick it where the sun don't shine...just like you stuck me where the sun don't shine yesterday.  Keep dissing and disrespecting a non-profit, for love-of-game voice if you choose. It's your world...and, you...of course, are the reason the fans flock in....certainly not for the game or players...right? 

But don't be surprised if that voice gets louder and more critical of you're slights and cruel, hurtful deliberate decisions. Or just decides to ignore you and your idiocy. 

I am boycotting today's press conference previewing the Tennessee game with Walz and the UofL players. Whether I show up for the Monday night one will depend on whether the discrimination has ended.



14-11 was the final in Boston yesterday...the Eagles jumping out to a 9-0 run in the early going before Louisville scored five of the final six goals of the first half to climb with five at 10-5. 

The Cards would mount a serious rally in the second half and get within three at 12-9 with 15 minutes to play. B.C. would rally back for a 14-9 edge before Louisville produced the last two goals of the contest. 

It's ACC Lacrosse, folks. The best in the land. You're going to lose a few. Hannah Koloski led the LAX scorers with four goals, Meghan Siverson added three. 

Kellie Young reviews: 

"Although I am proud of our second half effort, we cannot put ourselves at such a deficit and expect to win. This has to be an eye-opener for our players about personal preparation for success." 

The Cards (8-3, 1-2) come home to face Duquesne Tuesday March 21 with a noon start. 



Alison "Mike" Szydlowski and Lillie Goetz delivered two RBI's and Maryssa Becker and Megan Hensley combined for a two-run, five-hit circle performance in the BatCards 5-2 win over ACC rival Pitt yesterday at Ulmer Stadium. 

"Mike" produced a two-run, bases loaded single in the first to give the Cards the early lead. Goetz pinch-hit for a two-RBI, bases loaded single in the sixth for the Cards. 

Hensley (5-3) went six innings in the "W" and Becker saved the victory for Louisville (17-7) who will face the Panthers today at noon at Ulmer to close out the series. 



The rebroadcast our our Saturday morning broadcast THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR is available at

We had a fun and fast hour reviewing Louisville men's hoops. previewing the WBB Chattanooga game and discussing swimming, softball, lacrosse and more! 

Thanks to Case and Worldwide for their always excellent job as part of out tri-host, mad-cap crew. 



Here are your top twenty. If you don't see your name, feel free to e-mail Sonja at for your record. 

Some very nice prognostication here! We've always known we have an informed reader base when it comes to women's basketball and these numbers bear that out. 

29-3   Paulie, K. Starks, Kenny S. 
28-4   Charlie Mc., Joe Hill, Perry S., Cliff, Curtis Franklin, 
27-5   Sporto, Beth, Doug A., The Deb Factor, Makers not Shooters, 
26-6   Nick O., Jenny, 
25-7   David W., Case, Christy, 
24-8   Blue Lou, Sonja

31 games to go! Best of luck to all and Go, Cards....GO !!!!