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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday CARDINAL COUPLE -- Shelby Harper


-Senior Shelby Harper

-Demling leaving the Courier-Journal?

Today at Cardinal Couple we look at one of the three seniors on the Louisville womens' basketball team. Our tentative plans are to take a look at a Louisville WBB player once a week until we cover them all.

For Scottsville, KY. native Shelby Harper, it's been a journey that has been fun, a lot of work and a career that has seen some pretty wide swings in playing time over the last three years. 

"The flying, blonde ball of energy that just flew by you is Shelby Harper. See how the crowd reacts to her when she steps on the court?" 

Explaining Harper to a first-time UofL WBB watcher isn't easy. Where do you start? By pointing out her tenacious defense on opponents that are usually six inches taller than her? Telling the viewer to watch how quickly she advances the ball down the court and gets it to the wing or paint? Remarking on her intense game demeanor and serious facial expressions...a complete opposite of the smiling, almost shy Harper off the court?  

My friend looks around the KFC YUM! Center. The little girls in attendance are screaming Shelby's name as if she were a pop diva spotted in public. The parents smile and remark to each other that she never seems to be stationary. Always moving, a small worker bee buzzing around the hive non-stop. 

The Shelby Harper story, by statistics and number, doesn't reveal the true nature of her importance to the UofL squad in many ways...but it's a place to start.

Harper arrived on campus in the fall of 2009. A talented high school basketball and softball player at Allen County-Scottsville...she wasn't part of the 2009 Walz recruiting class. Just another co-ed freshman on campus. The 2009-10 team, however was decimated by graduation and injuries. Some of the players remembered her from Club ball and her days at Allen County-Scottsville. The student turned into a walk-on for Jeff Walz's club and a starter in the back court by January. 

The 2009-10 season wasn't the best year that UofL WBB has experienced...far from it, with no NCAA Tournament appearance and a sub .500 record. Harper, though was one of the highlights for Louisville and quickly had become a fan favorite. Brave efforts each night against more talented guards and her 29 appearances included five three-pointers against Cincinnati and seven rebounds against WVU.

They ought to put up a statue, monument, plaque or sculpture for the players on that team. It would need to have Shelby portrayed with her shoulder length blonde hair flying in the wind behind her and in the process of passing the ball to Monique or Becky. Live action, as Turtleman likes to say.

The 2010-11 season saw a platoon of new guards on campus. Highly heralded Shoni Schimmel, cagey and crafty Tia Gibbs, long range bomber Nita Slaughter and... suddenly Jeff Walz had depth at the guards spots. Harper was still the spark off the bench, though. Energizing and electrifying the KFC YUM Center when she left the bench and entered the game. The playing time had diminished dramatically but the role was clearly defined. Few players have the ability to spark and motivate a team just by coming into a game. Harper is one of those. 

Last year, with the proliferance of "Cards guards", Harper found herself discussing strategy and and being a cheerleader with Jude Schimmel. She still appeared in 30 games, averaging about eight minutes a contest and was a clutch free throw shooter with 13-16 numbers. She was one of the 10 Lady Cards that jelled at the end of the season, becoming a cog in a highly defined and powerful machine that rolled into the NCAA Tournament, dismantled Michigan State and took Maryland to the final buzzer. 

The Shelby Harper off the court is a engaging, serious student that knows professional ball after graduation probably isn't going to happen...but a career awaits. She's spent this summer as an intern for a physical therapist. She aims toward a career in hospital administration. Helping people. Giving of herself for the betterment of others. The activities off the court match her three years of effort on the Denny Crum hardwood.

Goals for her senior season as a Lady Card are clear and defined. Becoming a leading assist and steals guard. Improving her ball handling. Helping the team push the ball in transition. Working hard.  

This is the best I can do in explaining the Shelby Harper Louisville fans have come to know, love and cheer for. She's not the powerful, paint monster that Shawnta Dyer is. Not the magician, quick off the draw gunslinger Shoni Schimmel is. No one will ever mistake her for the tall, rangy all-over-the court wing Nita Slaughter. 

But, if you see her once, you'll never forget her.

I asked my friend after the first UofL game he had ever seen his impressions. He talked about his previous and original impressions of women's basketball had been altered and how much fun he had. He planned on returning and bringing the wife and family to see the Cards the next time they played at home. And then, he looked at me and smiled...saying:

"Y'know...if they could harness that energy and effort Harper brings when she's in the could light up Main Street." 

And that is exactly correct. The power source in the KFC YUM! Center at 2nd & Main isn't LG&E. It's Shelby Electric.


The rumors are out there. Internet chatter about Jody Demling, one of our favorite (and one of the few left) Courier-Journal writers leaving the C-J and taking over Scout in Louisville?

Inside the Ville leaving Scout and going to 24/7? 

No official confirmation on this yet, but reliable sources are reporting that all this is about to go down. 

I guess they've all been watching the conference re-alignment sagas. 

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, here's how we see it all developing: 

7.9.2012 -- Demling leaves the Courier-Journal and takes over Scout. Inside the Ville leaves Scout and goes to 24/7. Little Darius Wilson leaves the Beechmont Pirates and signs with the Fern Creek Rangers.

7.10.2012 -- Cardinal Couple is approached by the Courier-Journal to take over the Sports Department. In a closed staff meeting, the vote is 7-2 to decline the offer. Co-Co covers the inquiry in banana pudding and Bill the Goat consumes it. Jenny refuses to vote on the proposition but calls three UofL women's basketball recruits and tells them that Cardinal Couple is changing into a home and garden tips web site. 

7.11.2012 -- Demling merges Scout with Kentucky High School Hoops and Jenny leaves Cardinal Couple to join forces with Shannon Ruffra at Cardinal Dominance. Darius Wilson goes 3 for 5 in his first apperance with the Fern Creek Rangers and announces he's leaving the Rangers for the New Albany Rivermen.

7.12.2012 -- Rivals guru Howie Lindsay declares war on all Louisville sports websites that have the letter "S" in their title (including his own site -- Rivals) and secretly contacts Card Game, Cardinal Couple and Lt. Gov Jerry Abramson about hosting a telethon on WDRB. He declares himself sovereign King of Greater Louisville and purchases the castle on US 60 near Versailles for his headquarters. Darius Wilson strikes out three times in four at-bats for the Rivermen and complains about lack of team unity.

7.13.2012  -- Cardinal Couple trades Co-Co, Tommy Boy and Sandra Walker to Card Chronicle for three staplers, a sideline pass for UofL lacrosse and $15 in Wendy's coupons. The Rivermen trade Darius Wilson to the Fairdale Rattlers. 

7.14.2012 -- Commish Mark declares a state of emergency for all media outlets that cover Louisville sports and announces he's resigning to go and ride bulls in Okinawa. Darius Wilson joins Cardinal Couple as a staff writer and punches out Timmy the Intern in the break room hours after arriving. Paul declares that Cardinal Couple is "just a errand boy, sent by clerks, to collect on a bill". Louisville leaves the BIG EAST to join the ACC. 

We know that the losses at the Courier-Journal have rocked their sports department harder than Sammy Hagar liquored-up and on stage in Philly. If Demling does jump ship, as one writer posted...

"Will the last one to leave the Courier-Journal sports department please turn the lights off?

From what we are hearing...
Some of the readers at ITV aren't exactly
thrilled about the possibility of Deming
taking over Scout. 
Honestly, raise you hand if your regularly read the Sports section at the Courier-Journal. Raise the other hand if you can name three writers there. I'm not seeing many hands in the air. I grew up on Courier-Journal Sports as a kid. Names like Dave Kindred, Billy Reed and Mike Barry used to grace those pages. I used to write Pat Forde letters criticizing every word he wrote. He'd send them back with all the spelling and punctuation errors circled. I seriously didn't like him until I actually met him. I wisely realized that he's just like anyone else in the world but his job performance is evaluated by thousands of people who aren't his employers and I've made my peace with Pat. Maybe it is because I've received a few slamming e-mails since we started Cardinal Couple. Takes one to know one, right? I'd probably sit down and have a beverage with him. And, might even buy. 

Now, the Courier-Journal is a bunch of guys named Phil and Jennie Rees. 

This one is just heating up, folks. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading today and enjoy Sunday with Sonja tomorrow. 



  1. Shelby will go down as one of my fav Card players of all time! Love her "don't back down" attitude. Love the enthusiasm and all out hustle she brings. Still think inch for inch she is the best rebounder on the team. Would love to see her have a terrific senior season.
    GO SHELBY!!!

    1. Couldn't agree more, K. They broke the mold when they made her.

  2. Who needs ITV, Scout, 247 or the C-J when there is Cardinal Couple? Keep telling it like it is, CC. ( I think I just saw Shelby Harper fly by my window. Or maybe it was a lioness.)

    -- Joe Hill --

  3. Get'em Paulie. The internet has forever change the way we learn things. Scary, isn't it?


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