We report on the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports here. Thanks for checking us out! Click the picture of Louie to hear the latest Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast!!

Saturday, December 31, 2011


Happy New Year !!!

(From all of us at CARDINAL COUPLE...Happy NEW YEAR! We hope your 2012 is a great one! Thanks for being with us and we look forward to
seeing you in 2012 and beyond. From Sonja, Paul, Jenny, Sandra, David, Bill the Goat, Co-Co, La-La, Cletus, Mondo Vendo and Felton wishes and GO CARDS!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Discussions on the Lady Cards


-Thoughs and observations on the Lady Cards

With the University of Louisville women's basketball team off until Tuesday and visions of bowl games dancing maddeningly in my head...time to break the thought pattern and talk the Lady Cards. You been sending e-mails and leaving comments about Phil's rating system and advocation for a "three" big let's start there. 

WE can see a lot of benefit from it, given the current case of lack of rebounds, but it's awfully hard to just sit Becky Burke down after she's been the most or second most reliable shooter on the team this year and the leading three-point threat.  So, how about starting her with Shoni, Cierra, Shawnta and Asia?

That, of course, puts Bria on the bench. Tough to do with her very impressive freshman season. Inserting Burke later in the game just may be a viable option...Walz did with Reid off and on for three years...Mo still got her points.

So, Bria, Shoni, Cierra, Shawnta and Asia? I can hear the Sherrone and Sara backers over the roar of Washington scoring (again) on Baylor...

Here's what WE think Jeff is trying to determine. Eight (maybe) nine players to form a consistent, contributing and interacting core. Let's be honest. Shelby and (for this year) Jude probably aren't going to make this cut. That leaves:

(a good guard rotation that offers shooting, driving and rebounding)

That leaves...


All have their strong points and shortcomings. I like the hustle and desire of Asia. She just needs that consistent effort game after game. It's there, she needs to find it. I also like Cierra in this mix. She's the best inside player, the way WE see that Mo is sidelined. She's 6'5". Just go to the basket and forget about the fade away, off angle hook shot. If you want a third "big" I think you have to go with who's been hot lately and that is Shawnta. 

So, we'll offer Shoni, Bria, Asia, Cierra and Shawnta as our picks to get introduced by Sean Moth when the game starts. 

Ultimately, of course, it all depends on what Jeff sees and he knows them better than the collectiveve reader base of CARDINAL COUPLE. With his excellent coaching staff...they will make the right call, the right decision and coach them up. 


From some of the comments we get via e-mail, some of our readers are living under the illusion that the Lady Cards have won only two games, instead of having just two losses. Fan prognostication and speculation is all well and good. Remember...this is CARDINAL COUPLE, the fan voice for UofL Women's we love, encourage and anticipate your comments. 

Let's just keep in mind that this is a top 15 team, their losses have come against top 10 competition and have suffered the losses of last year's leading scorer, leading defender and a promising sophomore. They've survived two challenging road trips, the majority of their games so far away from the KFC YUM! Center and are still a very talented group of ladies. Think any programs out there would turn down Shoni, Bria, Becky or any of the rest on the Lady Cards squad? 


The BIG EAST looms ahead. Yes it will be tough. The Lady Cards can ill afford to take a night off against any of the conference members. Rutgers, Notre Dame, UConn, Georgetown, DePaul and Syracuse are very capable of hanging a 20 point whipping on this team on a home or away court. Lowly Cincinnati gave Louisville all they wanted..and the Bearcats were picked pre-season to finish down in the basement of the BIG EAST structure. Villanova is over-achieving, Providence looks improved, St. John's is still very, very dangerous despite injuries. The list goes on and on...

2012 will be a thrill packed, face in the wind roller coaster ride for the Lady Cards in the BIG EAST. IF this team can reach the BIG EAST conference championships with 4 or less conference losses, they should give Walz the Coach of the Year award. 

So, there it is. Keep your observations coming. We relish them and people enjoy reading them in columns and in the comments section. Just try to remember that this team is 12-2, not 2-12.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lady Cards defeat UTM 70-57


Thursday with the Couple & cast...

-Lady Cards down Tennessee-Martin 70-57.

-Reports from Sandra, Phil and Jenny on the game.

-Let's go to the movies...

(Special thanks to Sandra, Phil and Jenny for the coverage. Arrived back in
Louisville at 7 p.m. tonight. Trying to get 3G coverage in the Appalachian Mountains....spotty at best. Louisville did win by 13. Good to be home. The fun and excitement of attending bowl games never grows old...but I won't be back to this particular one if the Cards draw the invite again. Paul's new bowl philosophy #1. Bowl games need to be played in warm weather. That is where I'll attend them from now on.)

OK, to the reports...

From Sandra: 12:35 p.m.

Starters Shoni, Asia, Sherrone, Bria and Becky. He (Coach Walz) started the same game of musical chairs with players  One mistake and out. Becky dropped a pass early and we just now saw her return again at 6:58.

Sara (Hammond) might be having a better game. Looks stronger. More confident.

From Sandra: 1:31 p.m.

We will win but no blow out. Jeff keeps messing with combinations that are not his best players. Bewildering.

From Phil: 3:50 p.m.

So, I watched the game this morning (I've signed up for that pay per month service) and have my laptop connected to my TV. I have to say that I think Walz proved my point again. What should have been a blowout was much closer than it should have been until the very end.

Here's what we got out of the game from the effectiveness per minute ratings:

Starting at the post, Warren (1.0) and Vails (.83) were both very effective but they only played a combined 26 minutes.

Dyer (.79) and Hammond (.65) were both very effective but played only 24 minutes combined. Dyer's minutes ( 11) came at the "5" .

You have four "bigs" who play a combined 50 minutes.

Why was this game close? Burke with a negative (-.17) in 29 minutes and Harper with a negative (-.06) in 16 minutes. Those two played only four minutes less than the "bigs" we mentioned above. Go figure. 

I could go on about some bizarre substitution patterns and lineups. The bottom line is that the Cards are doing something here that I'm obviously
missing. Someone please explain it to me.

Jenny's game article below...

The Lady Cards took to the hardwood today after a brief holiday break On the sidelines were both Tia Gibbs and Monique Reid. Tia, who had surgery after exams, was sporting some kind of sling keeping her arm/shoulder immobilized. Mo was obviously favoring her leg, but was standing and walking unassisted. Last report we had on Mo from the west coast had her on crutches, so it was good to see her able to bear weight.

While the Cards came out of the game with the win, it was a rusty effort at best. Sherrone Vails easily won the opening tip off, getting it to Bria who drove to the hoop and drew a foul. She cashed in on 1 of 2...UT-Martin held Louisville without a basket until the 16:51 mark when Cierra Warren finally connected. Bria Smith picked up two early fouls, but Walz let her play through it for a few minutes. Once she left, she stayed out the rest of the half. The Cards did eventually go out two first half runs of 10-0 and 8-2. UT-Martin stayed close though - by hitting five three-point attempts. The Cards did force 17 Skyhawk turnovers in the first twenty and had a 35-30 lead.

The second half started with two quick fouls on Smith. She left at the 19:04 mark and and returned later in the game before fouling out with 3:01 left in the game. The Cards could never pull away from UTM in the second half. Shoni sealed the win by leading Louisville in a late run for the 13 point victory. 

UTM played their starting five 180 of the 200 minutes available. Those five had all the Skyhawk points. Heather Butler had 13 and Perica Glenn and Jaclissa Haislip added 12 each and had double-doubles with 10 boards each. 

The Cards got 16 from Shoni Schimmel and 14 out of Cierra Warren. Sara Hammond grabbed a team high 9 rebounds to go with 8 points. A strong game from the freshman, nearly getting a double-double. Louisville was out rebounded 43-41. Second chance points was won by the Skyhawks 15-2. The Cards forced 26 turnovers while committing 19 of their own. Louisville also won the assists stats 15-12 .


-SARA!  I've thought from the beginning she was a baller. She got off to a slow start this season, but today I saw the confidence and strong play that won her Kentucky Miss Basketball last year. She did have a few defensive breakdowns, which netted the usual sideline reprimands from Walz, but overall it was a good game for her and hopefully a sign of good things to come.

-SHAWNTA Dyer also had a nice stat line today. Seven points in 14 minutes. 3 grabs, 3 steals, an assist and block.

-STEALS. 15 today. Active hands. I liked it. Keep it up.


-Slow starts. Another one today. In the BIG EAST, these will put the Cards in a big hole early.

-Rebound, rebound, rebound. Two of our four "bigs" had only 3 rebounds each. an embarrassing 13 offensive rebounds and two second chance points. I know you can do better.

The girls will hit the film room Thursday to review and discuss. One game at a time is the current Walz credo. Without Tia and Mo, it's a wise one. Each contest a challenge now that the non-conference schedule is complete.

Louisville begins BIG EAST play Tuesday, Jan 3rd. in the friendly confines of the KFC YUM! Center against Marquette. Hope to see you there!

(A nice report from Jenny and photos, too!)


(After getting a good night's sleep and reviewing everything we could find about the game yesterday, Paul and Sonja have come up with five things that Coach Walz may want to hit the pause and rewind button on when the team reviews the film.)

-The lack of blocking out on the boards. Should have quite a few opportunities
to review the lack of this from what we've heard and read.

-Freshman fouls. This segment could star Bria Smith, but it's a good teaching tool to show players how to avoid significant "pine time".

-Catch, set, square and shoot. Burke isn't going to shoot this badly each time out. Maybe a review of the three point attempts will teach "how not to."

-"Sho" them how it gets done. Shoni Schimmel put the team on her back and carried them to the win late. Maybe the rest of the team could pick up a pointer or two on "ready for prime time" basketball.

-Five pictures. Walz should pick his five starters for Tuesday this morning, put their pictures on the screen and challenge the rest of the team to play good enough to grab one of these spots. We'd go with Shoni, Sherrone, Sara, Jude and Cierra. Make Burke, Nita and Bria prove they want it. Good, challenging competition. Challenge Asia to pick it up. Have Shelby ready for a few back-up minutes. Make Shawnta your first off the bench and get 25 (minutes) 10 and 10 (rebounds and points) from her each night.

BIG EAST is around the corner. Grab your lunch pail and go to work, Lady Cards.  


Effective Lady Cardinals? Phil explains it all...

-Which Lady Cards "get 'er done?"

-Football Cards fall short in Charlotte

Regular reader Phil shares his calculations with us today as Cardinal Couple recovers from the Belk Bowl....

In this article, I am going to present some calculations to back up statements I've made in comments to Cardinal Couple via e-mails and messages. Mind you, I'm not singling out or "picking" on any specific players or individuals, just presenting a calculating method. I've disagreed with the three guard lineup Louisville has played. My disagreement goes beyond merely the starting line-up, as Walz is keeping three perimeter players on the floor at all times. One indicator of this decision involves Walz's playing "small" in the post. Last season, Hines and Vails together averaged 40 minutes per game. This season, Warren and Vails together are averaging only 29 minutes per game. Since Walz is playing only two "bigs" at a time, he in effect has Dyer at times playing the "5".

I believe that this 3-2 lineup is bad both offensively (lack of motion/screening
by inside players; too much outside shooting.) and defensively (can't stop other teams' post/giving up too many offensive rebounds). These negative results will become evident in conference play. Notwithstanding Reid's injury, I would still play three "bigs" at a time, with one modification: Since Slaughter has shown that she can rebound, I would classify her as a "big."

In support of my position, I have done an effectiveness per minute ("EPM") calculation for each player through the first 13 games. Here's how the formula works:

-A player gets ONE point for all the "good" things - points scored, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.

-A player loses ONE point for all the "bad" things - missed shots, free throws, turnovers.

I then divide the resulting number by minutes played to get the EMP.

This typically results in a number less than 1. Example: Shoni Schimmel, on the "good" side has 152 points, 47 rebounds 53 assists, 3 blocks and 30 steals. This adds up to 285. On the "bad" side she has 96 missed shots, (including 4 missed free throws) and 37 turnovers for a total of 133.

285-133=152. Divide 152 by 333 minutes played and you get .456.

(Note that a score of 1.0 or higher would be the equivalent of a player who played all 40 minutes, scored 40 points on 20 for 20 shooting and did nothing else (no rebounds, assists, etc.) Delaware's Elena Donne is at an incredible 1.09 for the season.

So, here's how the Lady Cards stack up:

Reid is at .783. (Whoever posted that her loss wasn't significant had too much something in their egg-nog.)

Warren is next at .646 (She needs more minutes. Getting just 17 a game.)

Dyer .526
Slaughter .504
Smith .463
Shoni .457

So, based on these calculations, this is your starting five. If you commit to having three bigs on the floor, here's how the substitution pattern should go:

-Vails for Warren. Vails is at .275

-Hammond for Dyer. Hammond is at .396 (higher than either Taylor or Burke.)

-Taylor for Slaughter. Taylor is at .356

-Burke for Smith. Burke is at .372.

-Jude for Shoni. Jude is at .205.

Shelby Harper is at .085, so we give the backup point guard role to Jude.

My point with all this is then belief that without a significant reallocation in minutes, I think it will be very difficult to replicate last season's record in the BIG EAST.

Best wishes for the New Year,
PDX Phil.

(Phil's comments do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the writers or staff at CARDINAL COUPLE...but he makes some very valid and astute points in his out line. We'll grade Phil out at .750)

IF you watched it last night...the University of Louisville football team at least tried to come back for a 21 point deficit...but Charlie Strong's guys need offensive linemen. In the worst way. Teddy Bridgewater resembled a tardy commuter trying to catch the light rail in a crowd of people.

They could use a few defensive backs as well.

Still, a brave comeback. The crowd, officials, public address announcer
and foodservice folks were all pro-NC State. I guess that's what happens when you play a bowl game in North Carolina against a North Carolina school. Plus, it was cold.

The fond memories of St. Pete and the Beef O' Brady Bowl will long outlive last night's disaster.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011



-UT Martin comes to Louisville remembering last year

-Report from the road...It's raining in Charlotte

The University of Louisville women's basketball team returns to the
KFC YUM! Center on Wednesday noon...looking to avoid a repeat of
last season. The Skyhawks ran into a Louisville team that was looking
for some redemption after losing two out of three games in the Duel In The Desert holiday tournament in Las Vegas. The 9-5 Cards had no troubles with
Tenn-Martin, winning 92-67. Shoni Schimmel led the way with 24 points and
Monique Reid added 20. Louisville led at the half 50-25 and shot 39-78 (.500)
for the game.

It was the last non-conference game, as it is this year, before the Cards went into mainline conference play. Let's look at the 2011-12 Skyhawks:

Record: 6-5

Wins: Belmont, Air Force, So. Miss, St. Louis, Evansville, S.Ill-Carbondale

Losses: Purdue, Ind. State, Memphis, Vandy, Central Arkansas

Current Streak: 2 wins in a row.

Who to watch:

-Heather Butler, a 5'6" soph. guard who averages 21.1 points per game. She had 29 against the Cards last year, playing all 40 minutes and going 7-14 from three point range.

-Jasmine Newsom, a 5'7" soph. guard that is good for 18.9 points per game. Newsome had 16 points against Louisville last year in 29 minutes.

-Jaclissa Haislip, a 6'0" soph. guard/forward who leads the Skyhawks with 6.0  rebounds a contest. She grabbed six vs. Louisville last year and had six points in 22 minutes.

The Skyhawks play in the Ohio Valley Conference and shoot .389 from the field, allowing opponents
.434. They are 98-289 from three point range (39%).

Louisville looks to carry on with their current four game win streak. At 11-2, the Cards are #13 in the nation. Faced without the prospects of having last year's leaing scorer Monique Reid the rest of the season, Louisville will look for alternative ways to score in the paint. One candidate who may challenge for that role is redshirt freshman Shawnta Dyer. She's had two big games in the Lady Cards last two outings and is playing with more confidence and talents each time out.

The game is the first of two in the KFC YUM! Center on Wednesday, the men face BIG EAST foe Georgtown later that evening.


(From the road, 10 a.m. Charlotte)

CARDINAL COUPLE has troops on the ground (soaked ground) in Charlotte. Here's what we've seen so far...

It was an eight hour drive from the Highlands to Charlotte. Mostly uneventful, passed lots of Cardinal decked out vehicles on the journey and arrived here around 4 p.m.  The Marriott that we're camped in is nice...full service bar with Phil Leotardo (Sopranos) twin brother as our congenial bartender. Beer prices reasonable ($4.50 for 12 oz. Bud Select) and some sort of mini-eggroll appetizers. The game plan is to get over to the Epicenter downtown and go to the UofL Fan Appreciation party on the rooftop. Light rail is the way to do this, from what the locals tell us...our advance scouting party has tested it and it comes after a few pre-party suds, we say good-bye to Phil, and the hotel van takes us to the light rail stop about a mile down the road.

Louisville needs a light rail system. We were going uptown to the downtown and I had a pocket full of $1 coins, generously dispensed from the automatic ticket machine. We got there in about 10 minutes, passenger cars packed with Cardinal fans and a well dressed man carrying a big briefcase and looking especially nervous. Unibomber in Charlotte? Nah...just an uptight businessman.

We're about an hour early for the free food and drinks, so we go to an adjoining bar and meet and greet Cardinal fans. We see plenty we know. Bill and Barb, Dana, Ralph, Brucie and the Sportsman Supper Club boys...including the legendary Tasso Harris. The rooftop is packed with Cardinals. It's good to see Valerie Owens Combs. She always smiles and laughs when I tell her she's the fifth best Lady Card in history. She never asks about the four in front of her. 

Denny Crum is here, posing for pictures and signing hats and such. He seems genuinely happy and pleased to be here. I mention we're Facebook friends and he nods and smiles. I think I could have told him that I was Johnny Van Zant and I wanted him to join Lynyrd Skynyrd and he would have smiled and nodded.

Wonder what a signed UofL Belk Bowl hat with Denny's autograph would go for on E-bay? 

The party was a big affair. Hot Sauce is supplying the music, switching from rock to country and hip-hop effortlessly. We Cardinal fans are a dancing bunch. The lead singer refers to the crowd once as the "Kentucky Cardinal fans". We forgive him. It was well intended, if a bit misguided. Things are still going full speed when we decide to head back to the light rail around 10:30 or so. We call ahead and the Marriott van is waiting to haul us back to the hotel. We stumble off the light rail, pile into the van and amuse the driver with our tales of the evening as he barrels down the street to get us back to the lodging. 

Tillie the tour guide has long since disappeared and her twin Flo has surfaced. She's still doing "the Elaine dance" from Seinfeld and I'm trying to convince a
group of dis-interested Charlotte citizens that we will beat N.C. State on Tuesday. A group of teenage girls are giggling in the corner of the rail car. We must be the comic relief.

A final nightcap with Phil, we nod to Tony, Syl, Chris and Paulie in the corner, and it's off to bed. A sound night's sleep. Awaken to the pitter-patter of rain.
Meander down to the lobby for coffee, Internet access and more coffee. Still raining. Breakfast is a fun affair. Tilly needs aspirin, our waitress is from Peru and named Nelly. Lil Wayne, 50cent and Dr. Dre are no-shows. Still raining.
A lively discussion develops concerning the origin of grits and we're informed by a couple at the table next to us that Susan Sweeney Crum was there lat night (I didn't see her) and works for Public Radio now. Still raining. Several of us leave breakfast and return to our rooms. Kickoff is 10 hours away...high wind advisory for this afternoon and rain is supposed to be gone by 3 p.m.

Go Cards!


Monday, December 26, 2011

As Cards enter 2012, chemistry the key...


-Team play, consistency key for Lady Cards successes in 2012

A quick look at the the University of Louisville women's basketball team's roster for 2011-12 roster shows a wide variety of intended majors for the players. A economics major, physical education, sports management. Nursing, health and human performance...still several undecideds. No chemistry majors, however...and this is the area that Coach Walz would probably like all the players to get extra credit hours in.

Not so much off the court. Their bonding trip to the west coast and Canada is well documented. Going over the confidence-training course at Fort Knox, too. They seem to be a close-knit and tight, fun-loving group in public appearances and fan greetings.

They're almost at the point where they aren't
freshmen anymore...
When it comes to the 40 minutes that they'll spend on the court in the remaining 16 regular season games, though...the aspect of chemistry and team play need to be stressed and taken to the top of the list. They're the most important challenges Louisville will need to master as they jump into BIG EAST play.

(We haven't forgotten that UofL has one game remaining in 2011...against a Tenn.-Martin opponent that could be challenging...but we're looking at this one as the final dress rehearsal, the last tuning of the engine before they access the Autobahn of women's college basketball - the BIG EAST. Blink twice and you're down eight points...Fail to block out and the ball is going in the hoop for the girls in the other jerseys.)

Was it Mr.Spock who said..'the needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the one?'
So, where and how do these guide points develop? True, the Cards have lost two natural leaders in Tia Gibbs and Monique Reid. There are plenty of returning cast members, however, who are capable and knowledgeable enough to pick up the reins and guide the wagon down the path. We'll start with Becky Burke and Shoni Schimmel. Burke's the sole remaining active player on the roster who spent several days in St. Louis chasing the national title. She knows the system, knows the players and can draw them together to play as a unit. The world knows Shoni Schimmel. We've seen her as the floor general on many occasions over the past two years...making suggestions to her court mates, getting players into position and taking over games as the scorer and motivator. There's a "stop Shoni" master plan out there that Lady Cards opponents will employ in future games. Louisville needs to turn that into a "watch Shoni and her teammates beat you" mode of operation.

These two stars aren't enough, though. There are five players out there for a combined 200 minutes each game. We've seen good things out of freshman Bria Smith after 13 games. It's around that time of year when freshmen no longer become freshmen and need to lead instead of follow. We think she can handle this just as easily as she accelerates with that blinding first step and heads to the baseline.

Cierra Warren, Asia Taylor, Shawnta Dyer, Sherrone Vails, Nita Slaughter and Sara Hammond need to become a collective wrecking crew inside the paint for the Cards as well. Walz seems to play them in "twos" at times...Dyer and Warren replacing Taylor and Vails. Slaughter and Hammond spell either group. There can be no drop off in intensity and performance when "the wheels are changed" on the machine.

Walz will tell you he has no "mop up" crew on this team. What he needs to develop is strong combinations that can "wash down" opponents no matter who is on the court. We've seen late game drop-offs in performance when Louisville enjoys a comfortable lead. This needs to end. After Tennessee-Martin, the days of comfortable leads at end of games will be few and far between.

If JFK had been a huge WBB fan, he might
have said..."Ask not what your team can do
for you...ask what you can do for your team."
Chemistry and teamwork also come from knowing what works and doesn't. Pepsi doesn't taste like your local grocer's brand cola for a reason. One wouldn't put spaghetti sauce on their cereal. This is where Walz comes into play. Finding and using the right combination of girls at the right time. Using those combinations effectively and getting the most out of them. Putting the items in the blender and making a great mixture out of them. He's been a master chef at UofL for
five years. Time to don the apron and hit the
kitchen again.

The principals of fascism are seperate sticks, we are easily broken. As a bundle, though, we are not. We're not suggesting the Lady Cards don brown shirts and resort to terror and intimidation factors, mind you. We're just mindful of the theory that united we stand, divided we fall. Team play, not brilliant individual performances, wins games.

How good a quarterback would
Aaron Rodgers be without a
line to block for him?
Aaron Rodgers, of the Green Bay Packers, is one of the best quarterbacks in pro football. He wouldn't be so good, however...if he didn't have a solid group of receivers to throw to, a line to block for him and a running game to help advance the ball and keep defenses honest. Team work.

As fans, we're in for a wild ride over these next sixteen games. Nine in the YUM! Center and seven on the road. Six national TV appearances. Fortunate scheduling in that Notre Dame, Connecticut and DePaul have to come here to Louisville. Tough tests at Rutgers and Georgetown away from the Downtown Arena. Out of the final sixteen opponents, five are in the top 25. Several others are knocking at that door. It's the BIG EAST. Nothing comes easy.

At 11-2 currently, the Cards need to win half of their remaining games to be a viable contender for post-season NCAA Tournament play. There are some close first and second round sites for the tournament this year...Nashville, South Bend, West Lafayette and Bowling Green (OH) are all within a six hour drive. The possibilities are there, the ingredients all on the counter ready for usage.

The mixing and blending's said that too many chefs can ruin the soup, but a great kitchen staff working together can create an unforgettable meal.

Which one of these options will come out of the Cardinal kitchen for 2012?


We're off to Charlotte for UofL football bowl action the next couple of days. We'll try to give you a few "on the road" reports and our staff of writers remaining in the 'Ville will keep you in the loop. Tomorrow, we'll look at the Lady Cards next opponent...Tennessee-Martin.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Frank Sinatra - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

To our readers...


And, a story of hope...

The young men were defeated, down and deflated. Despite their best efforts, they trailed 6-0 in a football game that had been far from pretty. Played in a driving rainstorm, with falling temperatures. Neither team had been able to do much offensively. Only once had the ball gone into the end zone, an improbable 20 yard pass to a receiver wide open because the defensive back had fallen down.

The team in the lead had the ball. Only a few minutes remained in the game. All but the die-hard fans had departed. The defense took a time out, hoping for some kind of strategy to get the ball back, to stop the opponent. The defensive coordinator looked at his muddy, worn out warriors and pleaded with them to get a stop, to hold on. He looked around, all were listening intently. Then, his eye caught that of one of his reserves. Not a very good football player, but one with heart. He motioned to the young man. Told him to go in at linebacker. Asked him to run as hard as he could through the middle of the offensive line and try to get to the powerful opposing running back and make the tackle.

The defense returned to the field. Digging in. Ready to defend. The young man with the clean jersey dashed toward the line as the ball left the center's snap and reached the quarterback's hands. The defensive tackles did their job. The line magically opened and the reserve found himself face-to-face with the advancing ball carrier. He lowered his head, He aimed for the waist. He dove forward.

Helmet meets arm. Ball pops loose. A teammate scoops it up and takes off for the endzone. He gets there untouched. Touchdown! A nervous moment later, the placekicker sends a wobbly effort barely over the crossbar. 7-6. A few mintues later the game ends. 

The young reserve who created the fumble would never play another football game. Graduating from high school, he was offered no scholarships, wasn't that great of a student to begin with, and went to work as a laborer.

His inspirational play that night, though, was caught by a school reporter with a camera. The photo was given to the coaching staff, who took it to a printer and had it enlarged to poster size. It still hangs in the home team locker room to this day and has the caption beneath it.


As you go into your New Year, when you face seemingly insurmountable obstacles, when it looks like no hope exists, please remember this story. And find your way through and create the opportunity. Never give up.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Wishes


-Christmas Wishes


On this Christmas Eve day, we wish all of our readers the best of good cheer, holiday greetings and the spirit of the season. While you're dashing around for those last minute gifts or preparing for your holiday meal, remember the true intent and meaning of the season...that many years ago, in a land far away...a savior was born unto you.

We've come up with some things we'd like to leave under a few trees tomorrow and we'll share them with you here.

For UofL fans...Wins galore in the next few months! Especially one over that rival 80 miles east on New Year's Eve day. Also, a successful trip to Charlotte and a chance to watch the Football Cards defeat North Carolina State. A romp through the BIG EAST for the LADY CARDS in women's basketball and the joy and comraderie we share when we all get together and join our voices in unison.  

The Lady Cards basketball team...Freedom from injuries the rest of the season and the will, desire, motivation and ability to go out and play hard every night. For some of our favorites on the team...

Becky Burke...Continued success from three point range and a great last semester as a Card.

Monique Reid...successful surgery and a chance to do it all again next year.

Tia Gibbs...complete rehab and a shoulder stronger than the Bionic Man's.

Asia Taylor...a stocking full of rebounds, points and unlimited ham and pineapple pizzas.

Shoni Schimmel...more Sportscenter Top 10 moves and the sound of the net swishing on perfect three point attempts. And, many trips to Sapporo.

Jeff Walz...a team that continues to grow, improve and sends him deep into the NCAA Tournament. And a brand new, black sweater vest.

For Sandy Pearsall...girls who can clear the bases with one swing, a strong armed pitching staff and a dome over Ulmer Stadium.

For Anne more great year from Lola, success on the recruiting trail and full houses in Cardinal Arena and the KFC YUM! Center. 

For Justine Sowry...Strength at the net, fleet footed girls with accurate sticks and packed stands at Trager Stadium.

For Karen Ferguson Dayes...Another deep run into the NCAA Tournament and a brand new facility to share with the men's soccer team. 

For Mark Beckham... Success with a strong women's tennis team in 2012 and some long, overdue recognition for the teams and chemistry he creates.

For "Coach K" Kelly Meyers Rothberg. Birdies and Eagles for her golfers and a personalized golf cart with cable and wi-fi.

For Laura Aubrey. Trophies to put in her new rowing facility and strong arms, strong backs and calm waters.

For Kellie Young. Talented recruits to replace her graduated seniors and fans in the stands at the lacrosse field.

For Ron Mann. Sprinters success, throwers triumphs, distance runners domination and vaulters victories.

For Arthur Albiero. Big splashes, perfect dives and a continuation of Cardinal superiority in the water in the BIG EAST and NCAA.

And, lest we forget the men...huge wins and great recruits for Rick Pitino, Dan McDonnell, Charlie Strong, Rex Ecarma, Ken Lolla, Mark Crabtree and all the guys who don the Cardinal Red and Black and strive to succeed.

Finally, for Cardinal women's athletics as a whole...the recognition and respect for one of the best athletic programs in the nation. Whether it's Haley Jurich corralling a cross pass, Nita Slaughter grabbing a rebound or Margret Harris sprinting across the line first, we 're appreciative and keep the good results coming. Our thanks and gratitude to Tom Jurich and Julie Herrmann for building a program that is the best in college athletics.


Finally, as we roll into Christmas-time, we'd like to give thanks for the many people who have helped take CARDINAL COUPLE from an idea and new kid on the block to a thriving and surviving information source that receives over 2000 hits a day.

To our readers, thank you for the viewings, suggestions, responses and support. Without you, this would all be meaningless. We like to describe ourselves as "the fan's voice for UofL women's sports" so, as you can see, it all begins with you! Sometimes we disagree, sometimes we get frustrated and sometimes...we sit in front of this computer and have no earthly idea on what we should write about and cover.

You guide us on. You keep us fresh, timely, on our toes and pick us up and carry us to the finish line. Couldn't do it without...wouldn't want to do it without you. We adore you. Stay with us on this merry and exciting dash through the land of Cardinal women's athletics.

Thank you.

To our sole sponsor, Panera Bread. Thanks for the support. You are our only sponsor for a reason. We respect and 
patronize quality. Whenever we've extended our hand, you've filled it.

We'd also like to thank, our mentors.

Charlie, Shannon and Howie. In the early beginnings, you were there for us before CARDINAL COUPLE ever existed. From early on, with Sonja's thoughts and observations that you posted on Cardinal Sports Report, UofL Card Game and Cardinal Dominance, we cut our teeth and soaked up your experience, thoughts, suggestions and encouragement. When it was time to "go out on our own" you were there with support and backing. You guys are the best.

To the athletic department at UofL, we also humbly extend our gratitude and appreciation.

Coaches, you've shared with us and patiently answered and explained what you do and why you do it. We appreciate it.

The folks at Sports Information have been invaluable in providing access, knowledge, help and support. There is no collective group out there that is better than Kenny, Kim, Lori, Nancy, Rocco, Garret, Sean, Jared and Ira when it comes to providing athletic information. Some of what you do may go unnoticed at times, but you provide an important and essential service and do it professionally and very well. The time and efforts you put in shows. 

Finally, our contributing writers. From the early days when David Watson first offered to send a few thoughts our way to now...with talented, thoughtful and passionate writers Jenny O' Bryan and Sandra Walker on board...thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We look forward to your 2012 contributions, the sharing of dialogue and ideas, those e-mail exchanges that can go from hilarious and gossipy to serious and intense. WE have no idea how we got so lucky to get you on board...but, strap in and hold're along for the ride and behind the wheel as we go forth and continue to try and provide our readers our takes and views of Louisville Womens' Athletics. 

We promise to try and provide, you...the reader...the best we can offer in Louisville Women's athletics in 2012. Your feedback, comments, advice, tips and dialogue is very important to us. You are fans. We are too. This is the fan voice for Cardinal women's athletics. Don't let us down. We promise to do the same. We'll be here, getting stronger every day and will count on you to keep us growing, healthy and relevant. Sounds like fun, eh?

Merry Christmas, readers !! God bless each and every one.

We'll be back in a few days with tales from the road and featured articles from our writers.  
Paul and Sonja Sykes

Friday, December 23, 2011

Knee injury sidelines Monique Reid for the season


-Reid sidelined with season ending knee injury

-BIG EAST WBB Thursday Results

The Sho and Mo show is a no go. Here's the official press release on her season ending injury:

Monique Reid Out For the Season
Cardinals lose leading scorer and rebounder to season ending knee injury.

Dec. 22, 2011

University of Louisville senior forward Monique Reid will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season after suffering a osteochondral injury to her left knee in the second half of the Cards' BIG EAST opener against Cincinnati on Dec.14th.

A diagnostic resonance imaging (MRI) test was performed at Jewish Hospital in Louisville the next day but found no ligament damage in her knee. Reid saw knee specialist Dr. Caborn when the Cards returned from Pullman. which determined the injury was season ending. Reid will have surgery to repair the damage on Jan 4th.

"This is a big blow to our team but we will not use it as an excuse when we begin our conference play." said head coach Jeff Walz. "Mo has been a big part of our offense the last two seasons and we expected a big senior year from her. Unfortunately she has been plagued with injuries this season and we look forward to a full recovery for her. We've faced adversity before and we will rally together as a team. We're going to need contributions from everyone to pursue our team goals"

A 6-1 forward from Louisville, Reid saw action in eight games this season and was the team's leading scorer headed into the Cincinnati game. She misse he first three games of the season with a back injury. Reid was a preseason first team All-BIG EAST selection. She was also named to the Wade Trophy Watch List in the fall. Reid was averaging 13.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. She has led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding the last two seasons and has been a first team All-BIG EAST selection.

If the Lady Cards were a foot...they've just lost their big toe.

Questions we've been getting...

(What is a osteochondral injury?)

It's an injury to the smooth surface on the end of a bone.

(Will she be eligible for another year of playing?)

She is. Whether she'll apply for a medical hardship word out of UofL or her about that yet. She is due to graduate in May.

(Who will replace her?)

We're not sure if one person can. Shawnta Dyer and Asia Taylor have been playing the position Mo held in the lineup...but...they aren't Monique Reid. We're going with what Walz said...the whole team has to contribute.

(How will it affect the season?)

This is a hard one to answer. Reid's ability to score inside and rebounding skills are definitely going to be missed. You lose your leading scorer...yeah...that's not good. Others will need to step up. Shawnta Dyer has had a couple of good games in a row. She'd be our odds-on favorite to try and fill the gap. One thing is for sure...Cardinal opponents will have one less scoring threat to worry about when they plot a game strategy.

(Will the team have to change their style of play because of it?)

We don't see that happening. Mo's minutes were actually not that many in most of the games she appeared in this year. She was a prolific scorer in most of those games. Louisville's offense runs through the guards and what they can accomplish. If Shoni and Becky can shoot well, if Bria can continue to penerate and score from the baseline...that's pretty much what Lady Cards basketball has been when Mo hasn't been in the lineup. The "Stop Shoni" campaign...which we expect everyone from here out to employ against the Lady Cards...could have been eased if Reid were available. She and Shoni clicked well as a combo...Shoni finding her with dazzling passes for easy baskets. That will definitely be missed.

So, it's a sad thing and a rotten break for one of the best to ever put on a Lady Cardinals uniform. Jeff Walz will tell you that injuries are a part of the college game and a team has to go with the ones who can play and his efforts have to be centered around those who can play.

He's about to get another chance to test that theory. We know how it turned out in the 2009-10 season. Let's hope there isn't a sequel in the offing.

And, that's it for today. It is what it is. Excuse me while I go out and kick the fence a few times and mutter about fortune, fate and bad luck. I can go out in my backyard and see Fern Creek High School...where Mo played her pre-UofL ball. I'm sure when I gaze at the educational facility, I'll think of her from time to time.

I can see the Fern Creek football field, too. Ironically, her little brother Billy (who is not so little) ended his very successful football season as a linebacker at Fern Creek the same way...knee injury. What's the odds?

Gonna miss ya, #33. If it's "in the Cards" for you to get another year...I hope it happens. You and Tia have some unfinished business to take care of.

In hoops this season, (both men and women) the name Louisville = injuries
and that, friends, just plain out stinks. Go away, injury demon. Head to Lexington.



Providence pulls out a surprising win over Clemson 73-63
DePaul has no trouble with Southern Illinois 93-67
Villanova wins the battle of Philly over Temple 56-47
St. John's a surprise loser to Harvard 63-56
Cincinnati handles Longwood 70-54

Everyone's off till the 28th. God rest ye merry gentlewomen...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

WE look back....BIG EAST WBB prepares for Christmas Break


-We look back...Lady Cards vs. Vermont

-BIG EAST review


(With the Lady Cards off for a week, WE take this opportunity to look back at the past Lady Cards seasons...hop in the time machine with us and travel back to December 21st., 2008. WE set the dial for Freedom Hall...)

The Lady Cards were 9-1 going into the game against Vermont and ready for their Christmas break. Maybe a little too ready, as Dez Byrd mentioned after the game...

"Some of us had our bags packed in the locker room."

The foe was the Vermont Catamounts (5-4) and a festive holiday crowd of over 5,000 had showed up at Freedom Hall (remember, this is 2008) to watch the Lady Cards play and probably romp the America East conference foe. After all, it was Vermont...right?

"It was a lack of focus. I thought we were going too fast. We were more anxious than they were." senior Candyce Bingham commented after the game...a contest Louisville eventually ended up winning 67-55.

Byrd and Bingham led the Cards to the 12 point win, surviving an off night by Louisville star Angel McCoughtry..who totaled just 12 points and played only 24 minutes...saddled with foul trouble.

Second year Lady Cards coach Jeff Walz took the high road when discussing the game after the win.

"It's very encouraging. Dez, for the progress she's made from our exhibition game to now is remarkable. I'd put her up there with anybody in our league at point guard. She's still got some things to learn...but for a kid who's never played the point...I'm really pleased with how far she's come."

Louisville took the early lead against Vermont and held on to it, despite sloppy play and McCoughtry only getting two points in 13 minutes. It was 27-18 and the Lady Cards were beginning to realize that the Catamounts weren't going gently into that good night.

The Catamounts made an early second half charge at Louisville, using a second half run of 9-4 to cut the Cardinal advantage to 31-27 with 16:38 left
in the game. The Cards knew they had to pick the defense up and responded with a 12-1 run over the next four minutes to lead 43-28 with 12:36 remaining. The previously quiet McCoughtry was aiding Bingham and Byrd and Louisville's lead never dropped below ten points the rest of the way.

Louisville forced Vermont into 32 turnovers while committing 22 miscues. Byrd led Louisville with a game high 15 points and Candyce added 14. A freshman from Fern Creek High School added nine points for Louisville in 19 minutes - Monique Reid. McCoughtry had 10 second half points and was non-commital after the game.

"Shots weren't falling, I was pressing too hard, it wasn't a great game for me but we won and that's the objective."

Do you remember the Cardinal roster from back then? Reid and Becky Burke were on the team and are seniors this year. So was Gwen Rucker, who traded in her hoops jersey eventually to play volleyball. We've mentioned Byrd, Bingham and are the other players...

Keisha Hines was a sophomore center...seeing extended playing time due to the injury to Chauntise Wright.

Sharpshooting junior Brandie Radde was still on the squad...she would leave the team later in the season to concentrate on academics...but return midway through the next season to help out the roster depleted Lady Cards.

Janae Howard was a freshman on the squad. She left Louisville after her freshman year and embarked on a journey that would take her to Western Kentucky and eventually to St. Catherine College, where she currently plays.

Mary Jackson...a talented wing from Memphis...would also depart after that Final Four year and return to Memphis to play for the Tigers. She was on the roster last season and a some-time starter...but we've found no mention of her at Memphis in the 2011-12 season. A little help here, CARDINAL COUPLE readers?

Tiera Stephen was a freshman guard for Jeff Walz on the 2008-09 squad. She, too, transferred at the end of the year and is at Wisconsin...playing for the Badgers.

Angel McCoughtry...well whatever happened to her? Rumors are she's some kind of big-shot in the WNBA. (Ask anyone in Atlanta...).

Candyce Bingham was also drafted that year but failed to make the San Antonio squad. She's the head women's basketball coach at Fern Creek High School now. In her first year, her Tigers are currently 2-4. (Wonder if Mo Reid hobbles over there to coach from the bleachers...?)

Dez Byrd was injured in the NCAA Tournament that season, attempted a comeback after hip surgery, but left the Cardinal roster in the 2009-10 season. She's another one we've lost track of. Once again, help us out here CARDINAL COUPLE readers...if you have an update on her.

That 2008-09 squad would go on to win their next nine games before losing a BIG EAST match against #1 UConn. They'd finish 14-2 in the BIG EAST, losing only to West Virginia before entering BIG EAST play. UConn would defeat them in the BIG EAST TOURNAMENT finals and also in the NCAA Tournament National Championship game. They finished 34-5 and were ranked #2 in the nation in the final polls.


Catching up on a little BIG EAST action...

From Wednesday:

PITT handled Michigan State 64-54 in Cancun
MARQUETTE downed Vermont 71-60 in Milwaukee
SETON HALL defends the home court by defeating William and Mary 71-60.
GEORGETOWN spanks visiting Miami (FL) 71-46.
CONNECTICUT visits and rolls past College of Charleston 72-24


PROVIDENCE hosts Clemson
ST. JOHN travels to Harvard
VILLANOVA and Temple battle for Philadelphia supremacy
CINCINNATI welcomes Longwood
DEPAUL gets a visit from Southern Illinois.


Serenity NOW!!!
HAPPY FESTIVUS! to Cardinal Couple Readers! Is your aluminum pole in the front yard? Are you ready to air your grievances around the table at the Festivus Dinner of meat loaf or spaghetti? Who will participate in the Feats of Strength after dinner? Will there be a Festivus miracle this year?

I hope you've been good this year, because Constanza is watching...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lady Cards take a break for a few days...the future lies in front of them.


-Holiday Traditions

-The brutality factor in WBB...just how serious is it?

-Watson assigns grades

(Today at CARDINAL COUPLE, WE turn the site over to our beloved writers David Watson and Sandy Walker. So, pull up a chair, spike the Egg Nog and enjoy! Or, take a nap and un-plug the phone if you stayed up and watched the 97-80 beat-down Stanford put on Tennessee last night. WE like the elder Ogwumike. Pat doesn't.)

...Sandra Walker starts it off today with a look at Holiday Hoops...

December of 2011 finds many families in the midst of building new holiday traditions where the women's college basketball schedule has an effect on annual holiday gatherings. One such illustration occurred last week when a family's get-together date was shifted so that several relatives could attend the UofL vs. UK women's basketball game. Last Sunday, another Louisville family's pre-Christmas gathering included the UK at Notre Dame WBB game instead of one brother's expected pro football game. Fortunately, such an exciting game transformed what was a "beginning of game sulk" -featuring him sitting alone across the room - into a front of the screen position - urging on his beloved UK.

Who knows?  A new tradition may begin where male family members begin hosting and cooking the holiday meals in order to regain control of the household remote control. Hopefully by the time that happens, more hosts will voluntarily choose to view the more exciting WBB game.

Holiday hoops are sometimes excellent match ups
This year we are fortunate to have the addition of many more televised women's games and several holiday period top 10 match ups to enjoy. During this wonderful time of the year, we've had great competitive match ups that were well attended. UConn at Baylor, Tennessee and Stanford, Duke at UK, Louisville at UK, Connecticut at Baylor, UK at Notre Dame...and many more.

Games like these serve to not only provide enjoyment to viewers to pre-existing fans but also raise the awareness and appreciation of the women's game to those  who are newer to it.

It has been suggested that one way to promote WBB is for teams that are projected to possess the next year's highest pre-season ranking to make a special effort to schedule non-conference games with one another. Perhaps a nightmare for the schedulers - but a definite dream and a "win" for the fans. One guarantee would be a sold out venue where tickets would sell out weeks in advance. 

What do you think, CARDINAL COUPLE readers? 

(Sandy Walker is a staff correspondent for CARDINAL COUPLE. We like her ideas above. We'd also like to see Geno and Pat mend the fence and give us a Connecticut vs. Tennessee game yearly. Another idea is to have a pre-Christmas tournament here in-state...maybe a double header at rotating locations...where Louisville plays an in-state opponent...let's say the first game and UK takes on one also...maybe Murray. Who doesn't think this double-header wouldn't sell out if you staged it on a Saturday or Sunday and also offered it as a TV package?)


(Sandy also reviews the recent UK vs. Notre Dame game below)

Here are a few late comments regarding last Sunday's top 10 Kentucky vs. Notre Dame match-up. They packed almost 9000 into the recently remodeled Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on the Notre Dame campus for this one.

The game may have applications to UofL's late season BIG EAST meeting with Notre Dame - the Irish were very successful in locking down UK leader A'dia Mathies and her shooting game. She was not as effective at directing UK's offense, which counts on the transition and running game. Without it...and her...UK did not have a very organized half-court attack either, which hurt them later in the game. UK fans that were fortunate enough to attend the contest report that Notre Dame was able to really take Mathies out of her game and normal role just like UK did to Shoni. Mathies and Samantha Drake were forced to sit out the end of the first half, which allowed Notre Dame to change a neck and neck battle into a six point halftime lead.

Physical games in women's basketball have become commonplace but this particular game was reported to be very rough both physically and verbally

Fans sitting at the court level locations commented on the number of "no calls"  as well as poor calls at both ends of the court by the officials. There were also reports of the officials allowing on court activities to get out of control.

Samari Walker, a Connecticut transfer to UK, was a particular target of the Notre Dame players and fans - whose verbally harsh taunts continued throughout the game. On Walker, it looks like she will provide a solid improvement to UK, despite her year off. She had seven points and seven rebounds against the Irish off the bench - her first game of the year. 

When Mathies picked up her fifth foul at the 7:25 mark in the final half, UK's running game took a hit. They managed to stay close for awhile - it was 78-75 Notre Dame with just 3:43 left - but Skylar Diggins capitalized on not being guarded so skillfully with Mathies on the bench and took over the contest. Her three-pointer with 3:32 remaining allowed Notre Dame to streak to the win.

(We also wonder just how many teams, including Notre Dame, will utilize the "Shut down Shoni" game plan the rest of the year? Basic basketball philosophy tells you that when an opponent double or triple teams a player...someone else is wide open. Getting the ball to that "someone" is essential. We'll see how the Lady Cards respond to it. Great articles today, Sandy!)


(Lastly, David Watson posts grades for the Lady Cards and their first semester performances on the court. WE'RE glad David isn't a real professor...they'd have to take the whole academic structure we now know and run it through the car wash several times to remove his grime from it...) 

OK, by now the Lady Cards are all home with their families and loved ones, except for Shawnta Dyer probably - whose still slamming imaginary opponents in the paint and going to the boards -all in the Spokane airport, waiting for her plane, in front of bewildered but appreciative Northwest Airlines employees. 

I got together with my buddies Mr.Obvious and Professor Skip Academics and we graded out the UofL Lady Cards performance for the first semester on the court.

The Lady Cards are 11 for 13 this year as a team. That's a solid "B" performance. At home, they're 4-0 which warrants an "A". On the road Louisville is 7-2..which is is about 77% - so we'll give them a "C". Before you start wadding up paper and throwing it at the professors, put a little chewed gum in the middle. It improves accuracy and flight distance.

Individually, we pleased to present Shoni, Bria, Becky, and Sherrone with "A" grades. Asia, Shawnta, Jude, Mo, Shelby get "B"'s. Cierra, Sara and Antonita receive a "C". Tia gets an "incomplete" for the semester and Charmaine Tay a one way ticket to Jersey. We know that some of you out there will find issue and disagree with these mid-year grades. We don't care. Hey, this is our article and we can say anything we want, as long as it gets past Sonja and her editing. You got different ideas? Send them in and Paul will probably post them after Sonja proof reads them.

Some individual awards:

Is Becky Burke the
Lady Cards Tebow?
The Tim Tebow Inspirational Award. Goes to Becky Burke for lifting the hearts and minds of the fans and her teammates with those "absolutely, gotta have it, need it now" clutch threes.

The "I will shoot anywhere, anytime" Award. Your winner is Shoni Schimmel. We have no doubt that Shoni would fire up her assortment of attempted baskets while crammed in 5 p.m. wall-to-wall subway traffic in mid-town Manhattan. (And probably hit most of them.)

The "What was I thinking?" Award. To Jude Schimmel, for her clock ticking to zero, up by four, foul at Washington State. Ms. Schimmel, write on the backboard (or chalkboard) 100 times "I will not foul when the game is over and we're up by four." 

The "Aliens have invaded my body and there's nothing I can do about it" Award. We're pleased to give this one to Jeff Walz. His sideline movements, mannerisms, feats of agility and vocalizations are un-worldly.

Send the real Walz back to us at the end of the season, please, ye visitors from another world. We're enjoying the alien version. 

The "Where's my insurance card and can I get a ride to ER?" Award. Monique Reid. The coaching staff needs to pack her in bubble wrap and foam packaging for the rest of the year. (And don't let UPS deliver her.)

Finally, some 'best of' awards.

BEST performance of the year (individual): Antonita Slaughter's 23 against Gardner-Webb. She was alive, in the zone and all over the court in the romp. We're sending out search parties to find that version of Nita for BIG EAST play.

BEST game of the year (team): The inspiring nine point win over a good Florida State team on the road after Thanksgiving. The Cards had it together and Shoni was electric in that one.

BEST post game quote of the year: Monique Reid, with her defiant statement. "Hey, I'm a scorer. That's what I do and that's the way it is and my role." (Any questions should be directed to opposing defenses - who will verify the comment.)

FIRST SEMESTER MVP. This was a really hard one to pare down to just one person. We're going with Becky Burke, though. She's played in all thirteen games, performed well in the vast majority of them and has expanded her role from just being a three-point shooter.

FIRST SEMESTER FRESHMAN MVP. Goes to Bria Smith. All three freshmen have played well at times, but Smith is the most impressive of them, so far. (Bria on baseline = two points or a trip to the foul line.)

GAME we'd like to forget: UK. For many reasons.

GAME we'd like to request a "do-over" for: Texas A&M with Shoni and Mo in the lineup. At a neutral site.

PLAYER that we'd hope picks it up the rest of the year:

We could make a case for several Lady Cards here, but we're going with Cierra Warren. Her size, ability and skill should translate to double-double figures each and every time out. Time to go to work, Ms. Warren.

Finally -- (drum roll, please!!!): 

This will most likely be my final article for CARDINAL COUPLE in 2011. A busy holiday schedule ahead, trip to visit my wife's family for the holidays and other duties of the season await me and my family.

Many props to Paul and Sonja for the job they do here at CARDINAL COUPLE. This "fan voice for Louisville womens' athletics" is a labor of love for them and I'm proud to be a small part of it.

Thanks, David for your
2011 observations and
I'd like to wish each and every one of you a hopeful Christmas, health and prosperity in 2012 and peace on earth. See you next year.

(David Watson is a special correspondent for CARDINAL COUPLE. He'll also most likely be in the witness protection program very soon after our readers and the Lady Cards read his offerings today. Happy Holidays, David!)