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Monday, December 31, 2018

The way, way too early 2019 predictions -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


CRYSTAL BALL TIME



As we get ready...to roll into 2019, let's pay our final respects to 2018 first. A very eventful year, some good, some bad for Louisville Athletics as a whole. On the women's side of the ledger, we'll remember the trip to Columbus and Final Four appearance for Louisville WBB. We'll remember "the uncalled foul" for a long time. Walz's squad also beat Kentucky in The KFC YUM! Center and the mighty Irish in 2018 twice...felling the National Champions at home and in Greensboro.

We saw improvements in women's soccer, a Volleyball squad that went to the NCAA Tournament and the final season of the world's best Field Hockey goal-keeper. Lacrosse began the Scott Teeter era and said "Goodbye" to Sandy Pearsall. 

Now, to the future! Paulie drags out his Crystal ball expert, Tarot card dealer and consults with noted psychics and foreseers to bring you...


THE WAY, WAY TOO EARLY 2019 PREDICTIONS

We'll predict the 2019 successes for six UofL women's athletics squads today. We spent a lot of time writing about these six sports-- women's basketball, Volleyball, Field Hockey, Soccer, Softball and Lacrosse in 2018 and we'll stumble boldly forth to predict how they'll do in 2019. 

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

The Cards roar into 2019 and ACC play with the 12-0 record. They'll get to 14-0 before facing Notre Dame in South Bend on January 10th. Unfortunately, the crystal ball predicts a loss up in the Irish's Joyce Arena. The Cards will stumble two more times before ending the regular season -- In the KFC YUM! Center to UConn and at Virginia Tech on Feb. 10th. 
Hoops will take a five game win streak and 25-3 record into the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. 

The Cards, who I predict will be the #2 seed in the Tournament and #4 in the nation, will survive a couple of early tests in Friday and Saturday action before facing the Irish again in the ACC Tournament Championship game. On a neutral court, they take Notre Dame down and get the #1 seed in the Greensboro region of the NCAA Tournament. At home, they roll by a SWAC opponent and Kentucky at the YUM! and go to Greensboro where they down a strong Pac 12 opponent and, let's say, a strong Big 12 foe to advance to the Final Four in Tampa. 

Old nemesis UConn awaits the Cards in the first Final Four game and Asia Durr wills the Cards to an upset victory! In the final game, the Cards get a rematch against Mississippi State and come out the winner! Hey, if you're going to dream, dream big. 


VOLLEYBALL



With a new lineup for the most part, Dani Busboom Kelly leans on returning star Melanie McHenry early and the Cards have some bumps and bruises but emerge with a 10-2 record before starting ACC play.  A loss to UK, unfortunately, again in that stretch...in Lexington. In a strong Atlantic Coast conference, the Cards take a few more defeats, let's say to Pitt, Miami, Syracuse and Notre Dame, but are a ranked, top #25 squad and make the NCAA Tournament.

Unfortunately , they do not begin the NCAA quest at home, and get sent to Michigan, where they win a first round game and then surprise the Wolverines to get to face Nebraska. The Cornhuskers prevail in a five set match. 


SOFTBALL


Holly Aprile installs "Holly-ball" in Ulmer Stadium, after the Cards return from a 14-game, classic and tournament road trip where they go 9-5.  Pitching is strong and the hitters are responding to the new style and Louisville defeats Kentucky, Western Kentucky and Indiana in the "rival" games and goes into the ACC slate with a 18-9 record. 

After competing in the tough ACC schedule, they travel to Tallahassee with a 38-17 (or so...no accounting for rain-outs) record for ACC Tournament play.  The "pitch and hit" Cards have success in first round action against Duke before running into Fla. State. The 'Noles down the Cards to knock them out of the ACC Championships, but UofL gets an NCAA bid and gets sent to ONE OF THE MANY SEC powers to start the quest. Let's say Arkansas. And, in a couple of close ones, the Cards take the opening games and find themselves headed to Tennessee for the regional. Unfortunately, the Vols end an impressive first-year for Aprile. 


LACROSSE




Year two of Scott Teeter's career at Louisville begins and the Cards come out against the toughest schedule I've seen in quite some time for Louisville Lacrosse There are pluses and minuses and I'll predict LouLax finding themselves with a 5-5 mark after ten games. The brutal final five games of the regular season (at VT, UNC, OSU, at Virginia, at Boston College) produces two wins and the Cards head to the ACC Lacrosse Tournament at Boston College with a 7-8 record. After a upset win over UNC, they run into a strong BC squad and the season ends with a loss to the Eagles and a 8-9 record. No NCAA Tournament this year, but an improved season from 2018 and great hope and potential for 2020. 


WOMEN'S SOCCER


We haven't seen the 2019 schedule yet, but let's assume the Cards will have ten conference games and eight-non-conference before the ACC Tournament. Karen Ferguson Dayes returns a lot of experience players and has recruited well. The Cards knock off UK again and head into ACC play, let's predict, 6-2. Based on the 6-4 conference record last year, we'll predict Louisville goes one better and rolls through the ACC slate with a 7-3 showing. At 13-5 (or so, once again, we haven't seen the schedule) they go to the ACC Tournament and get a win over N.C.State before falling to UNC in the semifinals. 

14-6 definitely gets them into the NCAA Tournament and Louisville travels to Vanderbilt where they take down the Commodores before taking a loss in a rematch against Virginia.


FIELD HOCKEY



The Cards come out with a few questions in 2019 after not getting an NCAA bid last year and without their all-World goalie Ayeshia McFerran. We don't know the slate of games yet, but we're hoping they respond well and take six out of their first seven. They go through an ACC schedule with two losses to UNC and Duke. At 15-3, they enter the ACC Tournament as the #3 seed and defeat Boston College before falling to UNC. 

No doubt about an NCAA bid in 2019. The Cards host and defeat Boston University before travelling to Princeton. A close loss to the Tigers ends a very successful 2019 Field Hockey season at 17-5. 


SHOULD OLD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT....


We hope you've enjoyed this "look into the future". I'll come back and look at the predictions as each sport progresses throughout their schedules. Wouldn't it be hilarious if any of them absolutely accurate? 

If you've got a light day today and want to sound off on these predictions, anything about 2018 or just stuff in general, hit us up in the comments section. 

In closing, we've had a fun and interesting year at Cardinal Couple and The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. I definitely want to thank you, the readers and listeners, for providing the motivation to continue and get better at what we do. A special "thank you" to radio guests Mike Gilpatrick, Daryl Foust, Paige Sherrard...a salute to David Watson for filling in whenever I asked him to here at the site, and...to "behind-the-scenes Sonya"... my undying admiration and love.

My hat (or toboggan or beanie) is off to the knuckleheads who dance this dance with me here and on WCHQ...Worldwide Jeff, Case and Jared. Y'all special !! Love ya !!



You guys and gals are the greatest!  

If you choose to participate in "Amateur Night" tonight in the bars or taverns, please be responsible and don't hit the road hammered. If you're hosting a party or going to a party...have fun, but don't let any of your guests drive after drinking or attempting to navigate home under the influence.  Make sure a sober person is behind the wheel, or...what's a small cab, Uber of Lyft fee compared to seeing you or a friend get locked up or maybe losing them? 

Have a Happy New Year and we wish the best for you, and all our Cardinal squads in 2019! 

Paulie
xxxxx



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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday Cardinal Couple - New Years Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions and More


Last week we talked about gifts for teams and individuals (yes, NCAA, metaphorical only).  This week I want to talk about resolutions.  But first, a touch of basketball...

Basketball Governor's Cup


You might have heard that there was a basketball game in the Commonwealth yesterday.  Yeah, the men's rendition of UK vs UofL happened yesterday, and the Cats took the win, 71-58.

While many of us had hoped for a closer game, Kentucky showed that, after a season start that left a lot of question marks, they're putting a solid team together.  They've still got some issues to work out, but overall they're starting to play, nearly, up to the expectations of pre-season assessments.

Louisville showed that they are able to compete fairly well with a very good team.  The UofL season
this year is brutally loaded, and this was just one example of Louisville sharpening their tools on some very good opponents.  A lot of people of people are down in the dumps over a 13 point loss, but I think this UofL team showed some real sparks of good play.  There's a lot still to put together, yes, but there was certainly talent and some good play in there.

We'll leave the in-depth analysis of a men's basketball game to the oh-so-many other Louisville sports sites that focus more on that.  Here?  I'll just say, I like this team, they're probably not going to win a national championship, but I think great things are ahead with The Mack.

Resolution Time


New Years...when lots of people make resolutions for what they want to accomplish in the coming year.  We had "gifts" last week, what we would hope teams and individuals would receive, now let's talk resolutions, what we hope teams and individuals will do to improve their own lot in competition.

Goals are good. Achieving them takes work.


Volleyball


You knew I would start here, and partly because the resolution here is readily stated by the coaching
staff and team.  The team goal this past year, that they didn't quite reach, was to get to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.  They spoke of getting a "black banner" to hang in Cardinal Arena, where red banners get hung for conference championships, and black banners for reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 or better.  The theme for the team the past year was the color black, even the intro video for team introductions heavily featured the theme.

They didn't reach that level this year, so I believe it will be the same basic resolution and goal for next year.  Reach the Sweet 16 or better.  The theme around it may get built differently, but the central idea will largely be the same.

Softball


I don't know how ambitious Holly Aprile is for the team's success this year.  As a first year's coach, she's coming in to a new team with new players that she perhaps didn't recruit, new facilities, new fans, new everything.

Personally, if this team can repeat or improve upon their results of last year, I'll be happy.  It's a time to build a foundation for the future.  As a reminder, UofL Softball finished 33-20 last year, 10-12 in conference and advanced to the 2nd round of the ACC tournament.  They didn't make an NCAA appearance.  I would resolve for this team to achieve a winning record in conference, and enough improvements to make an NCAA appearance.  That will be enough, in my mind, for a first year under a new coach and given past performance, to make a successful season.  Of course, I'm not a Div. 1 sports coach...they tend to be a bit more ambitious than I am, so it wouldn't surprise me if Aprile is thinking bigger.

Lacrosse


Lacrosse finished the season 6-11, 0-8 in conference last year.  That was with a new coach (hired late in the off-season), a very thin roster, and in the super high level of play ACC conference.

This is rebuilding.  My resolution for the Lacrosse team is a .500 season, across the board.  Now keep in mind, a 4-4 record in ACC play is a very high level of play, so this is a pretty ambitious resolution.  9 out of the 24 players on the roster this year are freshmen, and 11 are sophomores.  This is a very young team still, and a .500 season will be impressive if they can pull it off.  Teeter and his staff have recruited very successfully and a strong group of freshmen are on campus and ready to get on the field and prove their worth.

I believe they can.

Swimming


Again, I speak without knowing what the coaches have in their plans, but for Swimming I would like to see more National Championships from individuals, a goal that I don't think is all that much of a stretch given some of the personnel on the team.

As a team I'd like to see them reach into the Top 5 in the overall rankings at some point this season, and I'd like to see them better their 5th place finish at the NCAA's last year.  Both goals will continue to push this team into the rarefied air of the top programs in the nation.

I think Mallory Comerford has the chance to qualify for the Olympics in 2020, so let's add that on to the list of resolutions for this sport.


What say you?  I didn't even touch on WBB as I think everyone knows that a National Championship
is the thing there. With the perfect start, the Cards are #3 in the nation but face, yet again, another strong ACC slate and competition.

What do you think should be goals and resolutions for these squads this year?  I didn't get into individuals much either (except for Comerford), but goals and resolutions for individuals are fair game as well.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour


As for the CCRH, I think the resolution will be an easy one to keep...to keep bringing you the best commentary, news, and analysis on the radio about UofL Women's Sports.  We don't have a lot of competition, and for knuckleheads like us, that's a good thing.

Our latest offering in this effort can be found, as usual, on Facebook at:


After nearly a month of doing things like getting married, buying a house and taking a cruise, Case returned, and the discussion was fun and I think rather interesting.  Check it out!

-- 
JMcA

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A New Era -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


Welcome Back! 


Before I get into today's article, which will be fairly short given that the schedule is bare and I don't feel like being the umpteenth person to provide an in-depth primer of the red/blue game, allow me to say "hello!" I feel like I need to reintroduce myself for as long as I've been gone. I've gotten all moved, and I finally became a world traveler. I've been to 38 states so far in my life, but to this point last week, had not yet put my passport to use. Thanks to my cruise, that fact is a thing of the past as I spent all last Saturday lounging on a beach bed on a private beach in Haiti. It was beautiful, and the social disconnect over the five day cruise was fantastic. My wife and I have also turned in the keys at our old apartment, making the move to our new house complete and final. We still have some unpacking to do, but it's really coming together. Anyway, that's where I've been for the last month, so how about some Cardinals talk.

MBB Hosts UK Today at 2PM


There isn't much on the schedule as far as Louisville sports go. The next women's game isn't for nearly a week, and there isn't anything other than this game on the calendar before that. This annual match-up is a pretty good one, though, and there is a lot to be excited about for Louisville fans this year. First, if you haven't read Mike Rutherford's article about what this game means for Calipari for the college basketball SB Nation site yet, I would advise you to go do that. You can find it on his Twitter or on Google. Mike is a great guy and he is really the reason that I am still writing about sports five years after deciding to give it a go (big shoutout to Paulie as well). The article is about how Cal has owned Louisville during his time at UK, which is no surprise to Louisville fans, but how this game may be a key to UK's season and to Cal's legacy at the school. 

There are a few things that are working in Louisville's favor for the game today. (I was going to say two things, but then the list kept getting longer in my head.) The first two things that came to mind are in a very similar vein; Louisville looks a lot better than people expected them to be this year, and Kentucky looks a lot worse. That is not to say that Louisville looks on paper like they could beat the brakes off of Kentucky, it just means the game looks a lot closer than it would have three months ago. Vegas agrees, as they've tabbed UK as just a one point favorite. A favorite has not covered the spread in 8 of the last 10 meetings.

The next major thing is that this is a home game. The Yum! Center at its best is an insane environment. I've been a part of a lot of the biggest games there. Add on the fact that this is a game against the team's most hated rival and the environment ratchets up one or two notches. As Rutherford pointed out in his article, the two times that Calipari has lost to Louisville while at Kentucky were both games in which his team was playing its first true road game of the season. Guess who hasn't played a true road game yet this year... (Also, can we talk about the fact that we're two months into the season and a perennial powerhouse hasn't yet played a true road game? Come on, man. Man up with the schedule.) In addition to the "first true road game" issue, this rivalry against Calipari has mostly been determined by home court advantage. Cal is 9-2 against Louisville, which is admittedly bad for the Cardinals. However, only two of those nine wins have come in Louisville. Cal is 7-0 in Rupp or on a neutral floor, but is only 2-2 in Louisville (against the Cards). Chris Mack's squad has a chance to push that to a winning home record.

The last item I'll talk about that is working for Louisville this season is the addition of head coach Chris Mack. John Calipari was in Rick Pitino's head. He lived there. Pitino hated the way that Calipari succeeded at the forefront of the one and done era, and he regularly couldn't get it done against Cal. More than that, though, Pitino really wasn't great against UK before Cal got there. Louisville was only 4-4 against UK under Pitino before the Cal era and almost half of those games were against Billy Gillespie. Chris Mack is different. He allows himself to be caught up in the rivalry, but no differently than he allows himself to be caught up in any other game. To say that rivalry games don't mean more to Mack would be a lie, but that doesn't mean it's going to eat him up to the point where he doesn't know how to coach for a week. Mack is ready for this game, and he's clearly getting his team ready for it. He said himself of the game, "As a competitor, if you haven't internalized that and thought about that 90-61 ass-whooping, then I don't want you on my team." Chris Mack comes from a history of a fierce rivalry. You'd better believe he's excited to be in charge of another one.

I'm not going to give a prediction for today's game. Call me a coward if you'd like, but I just can't do it. Neither team has been consistent enough this year to be defined in any way. I wouldn't be surprised by an extremely close game that comes down to the wire (although I'm already a bit worn out on those types of games from the Cards this season), but I also wouldn't be particularly surprised if this game was a blowout in either direction. Only the guys on the court will be able to tell us how this game will go, and we'll find out that answer in a matter of hours.

Cards-Cats, Yum! Center, 2PM, ESPN2. Appointment television.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour


My return to the pages coincides with my return to the studio! I'll be back on Mellwood Avenue today with the gang for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. I can't imagine what we'll talk about. Join us on WCHQ from 11AM-Noon. WCHQ is available on 100.9 FM, the new WCHQ app, wchqfm.com, and on Facebook Live. We don't take call-ins, but if you ask questions on FB Live, I do my best to at least bring attention to them.

LINK:  THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR

Until next time, Go Cards!!
-CH-

Friday, December 28, 2018

2018 Grades Continued -- FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Grading the 2018 Squads -- Part 2

Paulie gave his grade for the 2018 year to the first half of the 12 UofL women's sports yesterday,  Today, we look at the bottom half of that dozen and give them a grade.

SOCCER Coming off their best season since moving into Lynn Stadium, the women's soccer team made it to the ACC Tournament for the first time ever and visited an old friend when they returned to the NCAA Tournament after a long hiatus (2013).

Awards flooded in for sophomore Emina Ekic, including All-American status for the second straight year.  Freshman Maisie Whitsett accompanied her on many of the awards lists.  Defensively, the Cards allowed roughly one goal per game and the offense showed some heavy firepower.

This season was far from perfect but it was a bright spot for a program that has seen fans grow impatient for results.  Next on the agenda is to move into the Top 25 and earn some wins in the postseason.  I'll give them a "B-".

SOFTBALL Trying to look back 9-10 months to remember what happened with the most recent
softball season is hard.  The Cards broke the 30-win mark again with a 33-20 record but finished with a losing record in conference play and no invite to the NCAA Tournament.

Coach Sandy Pearsall retired after building the program from the ground up following the season.  Over 19 years, Pearsall guided UofL to 718 (37.79 wins per season on average).  Holly Aprile was named the new coach, coming from conference rival Pittsburgh.

Fall play showed bright spots for the Cards with a lot of younger class players showing they're ready for a starting role.  The unfortunate season hurt the Cards with their grade, settling in at a "C".  "A" for Coach P's career with Louisville though.

SWIMMING AND DIVING. You can divide this category up into two sections: Kelsi Dahlia (Worrell)/Mallory Comerford and everyone else.  The duo of Dahlia and Comerford seem to highlight the UofL swim news constantly.  Recently, we saw some American records fall and several gold medals at the World Championships with some familiar names on it.  Give the rest of the team credit with rising stars such as Grace Oglesby, Sophie Cattermole, Mariia Astashkina, and Rachel Bradford-Feldman all looking good this fall part of the 2018-19 season.

A Top 25 ranking is all-too familiar for the women's swimming and diving team.  They're currently sixth in the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) poll.  To close out the 2017-18 season in mid-March, Comerford took home a national championship and the team overall finished fifth, their highest finish in program history.

With all of the success this team has earned themselves a well-deserved "A".

TENNIS The real action for the 2018-19 season kicks off in January after a handful of invitationals filled the fall part of the schedule.  Quite a few players received accolades in the fall.

Rewinding all the way to January the Cards started the season with an impressive 12-1 record.  They then lost 12 of their final 13 matches to close out the season.  

No NCAA Tournament appearance, an ugly exit in the first round of the ACC Tournament, a .500 finish, and no individual awards for any of the players is not the championship-caliber program fans expect at Louisville.  They don't fail, but I can't give the team higher than a "D" grade for the 2018 year overall although I can bump it up to a "C" based off of just the fall of 2018.

TRACK AND FIELD Track and field actually has two separate divisions with indoor and outdoor and the NCAA refers to it as such.  Indoor has seemed to be a little better for Louisville.

They finished this past season ranked 25th and Dorcas Wasike just set a new school record in the 5000m earlier this month.  When I say she set a new school record I really mean she shattered it.  Her time of 15:25.35 was a whopping 59 seconds faster than the record.  In terms of eligibility, Wasike is a sophomore.  She is a junior on the academic side.

On the outdoor side of things the women finished 28th overall at the most recent NCAA Championships.  Bailey Davis, now graduated, finished 24th in her individual performance at the event.

Appearances in the Top 25 for indoors and flirting with it for outdoors is always a nice way to boost your grade.  Having a player like Dorcas Wasike is like putting in a cheat code.  The Cards get a solid "B" here with Wasike an "A" for herself.

VOLLEYBALL This season either met right at expectations or fell a tad short depending on how
you view it.  Louisville finished in the first spot out of the rankings and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.

In 2017, Louisville claimed the ACC title with an 18-2 mark in conference play.  They only lost at home once the entire season.  In 2018, the Cards dropped to third in the ACC with a 14-4 record and three games out of first place.  The dropped three games at home this season including a disappointing loss to in-state rival Kentucky.

If this ends up being the 'sophomore slump' for Coach Dani Busboom Kelly then that's a sign for a good career here.  Typically, meeting expectations is considered average, but after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament I bumped the Cards up to a "B-".


COACHING ANNOUNCEMENTS

Less than 48 hours after Christmas ended Vince Tyra announced head coaching decisions for two programs.

Courtney Trimble will be stepping down as women's golf head coach following the 2018-19 season.  A reason was not announced by UofL, although most assume it is to soend more time with husband and family  Assistant coach and Louisville-native Whitney Wade Young will step into the role beginning July 1, 2019.

After the announcement of Ken Lolla leaving the men's soccer program a nationwide search for his successor began.  The journey came full circle when assistant coach John Michael Hayden was announced as the new head coach.  A Kentucky-native, Hayden is married to former UofL women's soccer player Hollie Hayden (Minogue). Minogue played for the Cards from 2002-2005.

I found no need to do a weekend schedule seeing that the only game is the Louisville vs. Kentucky men's basketball game on Saturday.  The ESPN computer has the Cards slightly favored although I believe Vegas might have the Cats as the favorite.  If history serves correct the Cards should win the basketball game solely because Kentucky won the football game this year.

Happy Friday, Happy (almost New Year) and Go Cards!  I'll see ya in 2019!

- Jared -

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Grades -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


PAULIE GRADES OUT 2018 SQUADS -- Part I

After a few days to enjoy the Holiday Season and Christmas, Professor Paulie has put the glasses back on, gone through the research and stats and has his final grades for six of the 2018 Louisville women's sports squads. 12 grades to administer and, in the cases where there are split seasons (basketball and others) to consider, I've used the "latest" season for evaluation. Today, we review Basketball, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Golf, Lacrosse and Rowing.

Let's get into it. The athletic listing is alphabetical. 




BASKETBALL  12-0 is as good as you can get in terms of a record. Some close calls, yes, and a couple of quarters that didn't exactly stand out as excellent, but, with the entire body of work so far in the 2018-19 season...there is a lot to like. With Asia Durr, Sam Fuehring, Arica Carter, Jazmine Jones performing as expected, a bit of pleasant surprise from Bionca Dunham and Dana Evans and the timely contributions from Kylee Shook, Lindsey Duvall, Mykasa Robinson, Seygan Robins and Jess Laemmle 

12-0 so far. Taking the Battle of the Bluegrass and achieving a #3 national ranking -- it's pretty easy to write an "A" at the top of this squad's body of work so far. 




CROSS COUNTRY In the 2018 part of their schedule, the name to know has been Dorcas Wasike. She won six of the seven meets she participated in and finished in the top 15 in the NCAA Championships. The Card Runners, as a squad, did not fare quite as well, although they did win the dual meet at Tennessee to start the season. Freshman Ivine Chemutal, like Wasike from Kenya, was usually next in line behind Wasike in Cardinal runners. The bestowing of ACC Runner of the Year and All-American to Wasike is quite impressive. 14th out of 15 in the ACC Championships, though, indicates a deeper and more talented roster is needed. We'll give out a "C" overall, with a "A" to Dorcas. 





FIELD HOCKEY When you have the best goalkeeper in the world on your roster, opponents tend to notice you. Participating in the ACC is no walk in the park. Ayeshia McFerran did what she could do to get the Cards back to the NCAA Tournament, but a 13-6 record and defeat to Wake Forest in the ACC Championships (that most likely turned the NCAA Committee's head negatively), kept the Cards out of the NCAA Tournament. Beside McFerran's defensive feats, Bethany Russ, Erica Cooper and Mercedes Pastor were the leading offense threats for Justine Sowry's flock. A 3-3 record in ACC competition ultimately marks the squad as "average" and that's the grade I'll assign them -- a "C". 


GOLF  In five events this fall, the Louisville women's golf squad competed with the best in the nation and won their final event of the fall. Out of the eight golfers on the squad who participated in events, Junior Lauren Hartlage scored the best for the Cards. Mairead Martin, a 5'2" freshman out of Ireland, had the second lowest average (5'2" -- can there be "Attack Yorkies" in golf)?  The third place finish in the fall final home event...The Cardinal Cup was good, but UofL was 19 strokes behind the winner (Illinois). Hartlage and Mairead are good enough to play about anywhere, the Cards need to find another strong "threesome" out of Thibodeau, Shah, Cason, Nay, Trockel and Bechadergue. In head coach Courtney Trimble's final season, the Cards are representing. Based on the win in Georgia and third place finish at the Cardinal Club -- I've decided on a "B-" for the "chip and putt" Cards. 



LACROSSE  In Scott Teeter's first season, a rebuilt and patched together roster had early success with a 5-1 record before the trials and rigors of the ACC schedule contributed to a final 6-11 record, 0-8 in the ACC. We saw the promise of the future in the Blalock sisters (Caroline and Sarah)  and strong efforts from Tessa Chad, Jillian Balog and Madison Hoover. The season, basically was a "mulligan" (to use a golf term) because of a shortened roster and lack of experience...but the Cards showed fight with hard-earned wins at Cincinnati and Mercer -- plus home victories against Marquette and Vandy. 2018 could have been a whole lot worse, given the situation Coach Teeter walked in to...so I'll assign a "C-" here after considering all this group had to go through. 


ROWING   Derek Copeland's rowers hit the water for three fall events, plus the Red and Black Regatta. They won the prestigious fall "Head Of the Hooch" in Chattanooga -- getting Championship "4" and "8" first places against traditional powerhouses Alabama, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. The Rivanna Romp saw the Cards finish second in both "4" and "8" competition...losing to the incredible Virginia squads in Virginia. We see a Louisville squad that competed well against the best the nation as to offer east of the Mississippi and can see our way clear to handing out a "B" to the women of the water. 

We'll grade out women's soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field and volleyball soon. I'll offer the grade assignments for these final six to either Jared, Case or Jeff. 


paulie
xxxxx



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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Post-Christmas -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


HAPPY BOXING DAY

The joy and festivities of Christmas are over and most of us are thrown back into the real world with work today.  However, the time that was spent with friends and family was, hopefully, as good as can be.  It's about quality of time spent together, not quantity, although quantity can be nice too.

We do not have a lot of Cardinal coverage for you. Actually, none at all from the fields, hardwood, other courts or water. The athletes are getting a few days off. This renew and regeneration time is needed and welcomed by these hard-working student-athletes.

We sincerely hope you enjoyed your Christmas Day. Whether you traveled to visit friends or relatives or just stayed home, hopefully your stockings were full, we hope there were boxes under the tree for you and you had the chance to eat well and enjoy the day. If you are "back at it" today in the working world, we hope it goes smoothly for you and the stories you share with co-workers are good and plenty.


When I last wrote I was preparing to head on a trip to go see my lovely Katy, who came to Louisville with me for a few days and made an appearance on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour.  Our time together was just as great as the first time and I talked her into going to a UofL game while here due to some free tickets.

The different UofL social media accounts were busy with all of the "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays" posts. There were a few posts on social media that really stuck out to me:

Instead of the pre-recorded "Happy Holidays" in front of a green screen that we typically see from the different sports, not just UofL, but everywhere, the lacrosse team went a different route.  Each of the players made a short video at home with their friends and families sending Cardnation Christmas and holiday wishes. You can see the ones we received over on the Right Side of the Site on @cardcoupleradio Twitter account.

Men's Tennis head coach Rex Ecarma posted a video on his Twitter account (@rx11) of his daughter playing a song on the guitar and singing in honor of her grandmother.  Alexis' performance was beautiful and received a lot of praise from UofL fans.



Others included the official Louisville Athletics Twitter account (@GoCards) posted a picture of the famous Elf on a Shelf wearing a Cardinal Bird shirt and dunking a basketball on a Kentucky Wildcat.  The women's team accomplished their feat of defeating the big-time rival and now it's the men's turn to do the same on Saturday.

UofL continues to have a few more days off before games pick back up.  For some of the teams they are headed back or preparing to head back to campus for practices and workouts.  Based off social media posts by players from every sport they were all happy to go home to spend time with their loved ones.

Enjoy your Christmas recovery and begin the preparation for the new year!



If you are looking for something to celebrate today, it is Boxing Day. This doesn't mean Sam Fuehring is going to don the gloves and go a few rounds in the ring with Megan Hensley or Emina Ekic though.

Dec 26th. Boxing Day originated in the United Kingdom and has spread to many countries now. It is a day where employers distribute money, food, clothing or other valuable goods to their employees.

Yay! Employees!


Happy Wednesday and Go Cards!

- Jared -

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas !







From all of us at Cardinal Couple...MERRY CHRISTMAS !









Paulie, Sonya, Case, Jeff, Jared and the staff chimps of Cardinal Couple.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Second season awaits Louisville WBB -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


(As a special treat for you, we bring in David Watson for the day before Christmas CARDINAL COLUMN this morning. One of "the originals" here at the COUPLE, David follows us from the warmer climate of Florida. Although we don't hear from him as much as back in the early days, David's thoughts and reactions to UofL women's basketball are still always a good read and I appreciate him taking the time to bring us this morning's entry)!  -Paulie -

SECOND SEASON AWAITS LOUISVILLE WBB

Hey Ho ! Dave-O here! First on the agenda, I'm sincerely wishing the Cardinal Couple staff, readers and sponsors a very Merry Christmas !!


The Watson household is nestled into their beds as I write this late on Sunday night. My wife Donna and I are tickled and pleased to have all three of our children home for the Holidays. Oldest daughter Abby in from "the Big Apple" and grateful to be in "the warm" as she calls it. Son David Jr. (who actually lives across town here in Bradenton) back from three days of golf and recreation in Bermuda. Our youngest Whitney, a high school senior, enjoying her Christmas break and hasn't had a single battle or argument with her older sister yet, so it truly is the "most wonderful" time of the year, in terms of sibling rivalry. They send their best and even Flabby the Dog raises a conciliatory paw in greeting to the readership. 


Look at you, Sammi Jean !! 
By now, the UofL women's basketball squad, too, has arrived back home to their loved ones for a few days of "r&r" before they resume the season. I did wonder if Yacine Diop was able to travel home to Dakar, Senegal. If not, it is my sincerest wish she is with a teammate or stateside friendly family and enjoying the holiday while going through her ACL rehabilitation process -- as well as enjoying a few Christmas treats and traditions. From California to New Jersey, proud Cardinal WBB parents and family welcome their daughters and sisters home for a few days. 

When the women return to campus, the second season gets underway. That, of course, is ACC play. Louisville has prepared well for the arduous task ahead, creating a 12-0 record, #3 ranking in DI and a ton of excitement for Cardinal Athletics fans. From the close calls against Arizona State and Central Michigan, the triumph over in-state rival Kentucky and the various domination and successes over the other nine pre-conference foes -- the Cards are sitting up in the rare air of "teams to beat" status/location for the National Championship. The journey, so far, has gone as planned. The remainder is uphill and filled with potential hazards in that road to Greensboro. 

That trail and road to the pinnacle that awaits ahead isn't going to easy easy at all. 16 conference tests, one huge out-of-ACC encounter (with UConn) and facing a defense of their titles from the conference last season against 14 schools eager to take it from them will be akin to the last several miles of a marathon, in terms of endurance, ability and stamina.
  


Jeff Walz's Cards are one of three unbeaten teams in the ACC after non-conference play. They, along with Virginia Tech and North Carolina State remain perfect. Nipping at these threes heels are FSU and Notre Dame at 11-1. Tracking them are Miami and Syracuse with 11-2 marks. Surprising Boston College, at 10-2, has only stumbled to #13 ranked Minnesota and Providence under first-year coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee's tutelage. Georgia Tech (9-3) boasts the multiple ACC Rookie of the Week in Elizabeth Balogun. Clemson (9-4) rounds out the Top Ten in ACC standings with first-year coach Amanda Butler making an immediate impact down in the land of palmettos and boiled peanuts. 14 of the 15 in the ACC are over .500. 


Louisville tests their footing on this slippery slope when they bring the Sylvia Hatchell led North Carolina TarHeels into the KFC YUM! Center on January 3rd. At 8-5, the Chapel Hill squad has had a challenging pre-conference slate, with losses to Colorado, #18 Kentucky, Ohio State, Maine and Auburn. Dangerous with Stephanie Watts, Janelle Bailey and Paris Kea suiting up in Tar Heel blue. If you want a sneak peek at the UNC squad, they'll face Howard on December 28th., a warm-up for them before coming to the home of the Kentucky Derby. Duke and Notre Dame, both away games for Asia Durr and company, await after that. Three challenging games in a week, but, that is what the ACC is. No easy nights. No coasting. 

The crew here at the Couple will get you prepared for all of those and more as the season unwinds. I'll just take a moment to laud them, if I might. Paulie has assembled a great and varied group of columnists here at the beloved CC. Besides his writings, I enjoy Case's in-depth looks at anything he writes about. Worldwide Jeff always brings a strong column and Jared couples his skills at photography with great takes on the action he covers. Sonya, no longer involved with the writing here and assuming an administrative role, does sneak over to Louisville Rivals and covers the Cards WBB exploits there. My hat is off to all of those five. 


Can the Cards continue to count on the #1 player in college WBB -- the amazing Asia Durr? Will Dana Evans keep on with her super sophomore year? Will strong Sam Fuehring and bouncy Bionca Dunham revitalize Cardinal rebounding and paint presence? Does the dynamic Jazmine Jones have more Sportscenter Top Ten moments ahead of her in the next three months? Can Kylee Shook bring the quality minutes we've seen out of her so far? Does Arica Carter continue to lead the floor action and display her dramatically improved shooting skills? How about the fabulous freshmen off the bench -- what will the roles be for marvelous Mykasa Robinson, lights-out Lindsey Duvall and steady Seygan Robins? I'll echo Worldwide's remarks that we want to see Jess Laemmle continue to be a crowd pleaser and "take the open look, Jess"!

All will be revealed soon. 


So, in conclusion, I'd like to end by encouraging you to be vocal, be supportive and back the Louisville women's basketball squad in 2019. I'll be watching and listening from down here -- the Internet is a marvelous entity and keeps me in the loop. My pal  Joe Hill and I have a trip planned to FSU to watch UofL face the Noles there. We're talking a road trip also to Clemson. And, I do hope to get to Louisville maybe in February while I'm on the way to visit relatives in Muncie, and maybe catch the Cards against Miami down at 2nd and Main. 

  
Paulie assured me he'd add a few photos to my offerings today and I'm sure he'll come up with some sort of introductory statement for the column. I'll try to be more of a visitor here in 2019 as well. A slow-to-recover wrist has my golf game and typing skills on the disabled list lately, but -- know that I'm reading daily and cheering just as hard as you are. Give the boys and their guests a listen on The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour too! This Saturday Morning romp is an hour well-spent and seeing them on Facebook Live only adds to the madcap fun and information they present weekly.  

Take time in the next few days to renew old contacts. Tell someone you love them. Be a giver. Help brighten someone's day. Enjoy. Will you remember the real reason for this season and will you be a better person and an example for others to follow in 2019? 

We know not the days we have remaining here on this big, blue orb. Will you rise in the morning and greet the day? Will you retire at night knowing you did what you could to make it a better place for all? 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!!

David Watson