Friday, March 15, 2013
Friday Cardinal Couple -- The return of Watson and Louisville softball
FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-He's back...David Watson on Cardinal WBB
-Softball prepares for Louisville Softball Classic
( CARDINAL COUPLE Columnist emeritus David Watson returns today with his views on the Louisville WBB season...so far. One thing about David we've always loved...there is no grey area in his columns...you either agree whole-heartedly or I get e-mails complaining about him. You're on the tee, Dave-O...fire away!)
I am pleased to be front and center once again here at CC in today's edition of CARDINAL COUPLE. I haven't missed submitting bi-weekly articles here; life has been fast and furious for me for the last few months and I did go through successful hip-replacement surgery, so there has been a brief convalescent period as well. Nevertheless, typing on these pages again bring back some very fond memories and some bitter-sweet ones as well.
If you are relatively new to Paulie's whirling dervish here, my name is David Watson and I used to be a semi-regular columnist on these pages. Back in the early days. When Sonja still wrote here and before the days of Cardinal Couple Radio (A show I really like). There was no columnists "Q" or Jeff. I like their work, by the way, and Jenny and Sandy's as well. I may not contribute but sporadically anymore, but I do read almost every day. I'm happy to see the site have the successes it has. I'd like to think I'm responsible for it in a very small portion. Paulie tells me differently. But, he also told me the world was flat and that he can communicate with squirrels.
When he asked me to contribute this week, he gave me a few topic ideas. There was only one way I was going, though, and that was to write about the University of Louisville women's basketball team. What's left of it.
I looked forward to the start of this season with great anticipation. Jeff Walz had a stable of runners that looked like they could seriously be the fly in the ointment for UConn and Notre Dame's domination of BIG EAST supremacy. I was ready to see the all-court hustle of Tia Gibbs. Knew that Asia Taylor would continue her board mastery and when she faltered that Shawnta Dyer would be there to help Monique Reid score inside and rebound.
As we know, none of this either happened or lasted very long. There were plenty of things to still excite me, though. Shoni's aerial attacks on rims across the nation. The strong-willed, determined approach of Sara Hammond in the paint. I expected Nita Slaughter would finally become a consistent and steady contributor to Walz's wards and that Sherrone Vails would regain the touch that made her a freshman on the rise. Bria Smith's driving ability excited me and I knew she could become a point guard in time. I looked forward to the contributions of the freshmen Walton and Deines and hoped that Jude Schimmel and Shelby Harper could become valuable contributors off the bench.
And, for the most part -- I got what I wanted in this area of Cardinal women's basketball.
I also wanted the Cards to finally prove to me that they were a steady, unshakable team when it came to road games against good opponents. This is where they let me down.
I attended the debacle at South Bend. Barely able to hobble into the Joyce Center and having to stand for long stretches because of hip pain, the bombardment the Irish laid down hurt almost as much as my throbbing hip. One Irish fan even commented to me that I must really be a dedicated fan, standing in support of my battered Cardinals for the long stretches. I didn't correct him.
The loss at UConn was definitely expected but disappointing to me after the Cards had won a tough one at Providence. Falling at DePaul was a big surprise. Equally perplexing was the unexpected (by me) victory at Tampa over USF and then losing to them in the Roman Coliseum/KFC YUM! Center. I was also surprised by Louisville's final regular season folding of the tent at Syracuse. All in all, though -- a 11-5 record in the BIG EAST isn't anything to gnash my teeth about in angst. I thought 13-3 was achievable, but I do tend to wish for the moon and settle for moonshadows.
One thing I've noticed, however, is the lack of a definite team leader. The great teams have one. Diggins at Notre Dame. Griner at Baylor. Mathies at Kentucky (your hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org). Dolson at UConn. Alexander at Syracuse.
Who will step up for Louisville NEXT year and be the girl? I'm relenting that it's too late this year for a candidate to emerge to assume the position. Louisville will skate through their two home NCAA games, probably end up in Baylor's bracket and eventually be sent home by 'Grinder' Griner and Sims. Or Stanford. Or UConn or Notre Dame.
You see it in the great teams. Siva on the men's team. Taurasi on the championship UConn squads. Parker at Tennessee. Adams at A&M a few years ago. Mercedes Russell will be a leader. Why she ended up in the backwoods of Tennessee playing for the third best team in the SEC is beyond me. Maybe she didn't get the memo that Pat retired and her son abdicated the throne and went to Milwaukee.
Who will lead? It's got to be a player who sees significant court time and can motivate others. A player who understands the game, isn't prone to emotional outbursts and can converse with the volatile Walz on the sidelines without breaking into tears or sulking when he does his sideline lecturing. Who is that player who can lead by example, hard work, dedication and rallying her teammates into spending the extra hours in the gym?
Who do I recommend? She may have zeroes on her back, but she's a 10 when it comes to hard work and leading by example. Take over, Sara and take this team to the final four in 2013-14.
So, dear readers, I wish you the best and we'll see you down the road again here. Make someone smile today. It'll do you both good.
Paulie, you owe me a "cold one" and if you find any good 8-tracks at yard sales, give me a call and I'll see if I have it or not.
( Editor's note. David Watson has over 5500 8-track cassettes and hopes someday to set a Guinness World Record for owning the most. I've seen the collection. He likes nothing better than to sit in his garage and pop one in his 8-track player for you that you've probably never heard of the artist before. )
WANT ANOTHER TAKE ON CARDINAL WBB? GO TO THE LINK BELOW:
Thanks to Sandy Walker for the find and share!
Louisville softball begins the four-day Louisville Softball Classic today and the Cards will get in four games over the duration. They play two today (North Carolina at 3 p.m. and Eastern Michigan at 5 p.m.) at Ulmer. They also engage Wisconsin on Sunday and Iowa on Monday. They get Saturday off...given the power of the Cardinal bats lately, one can only hope they're flying to the Cubs spring training camp and offering some pointers to my beleaguered Cubbies.
#11 Louisville is 21-3 on the season and is 9-0 at Ulmer this season. The Cards are batting .345 as a team. Katie Keller is fourth in the nation at .500 and has defeated two top 25 teams this season...LSU and Michigan. The Classic schedule below:
10 a.m. Wisconsin vs North Carolina
12:30 p.m Wisconsin vs Eastern Michigan
3 p.m. LOUISVILLE vs North Carolina
5 p.m. LOUISVILLE vs Eastern Michigan
10 a.m. Ball State vs Wisconsin
12:30 p.m. Eastern Michigan vs Wisconsin
3 p.m. North Carolina vs Ball State
5:30 p.m. North Carolina vs Eastern Michigan
10 a.m. LOUISVILLE vs Wisconsin
12:30 p.m. Iowa vs North Carolina
3 p.m. Iowa vs Ball State
11 a.m. Ball State vs Iowa
1:30 p.m. LOUISVILLE vs Iowa
Plenty of chances to get out and see your hard-hitting, nationally ranked Softball Cards in action. We'll recap the Cards' results here at the Couple and discuss the Friday play on our radio show Saturday on Crescent Hill Radio.
Word gets to me that co-host Jenny O'Bryan will be unavailable to us for the Saturday show...so it looks Jeff and I will be donning the headphones and carrying on...unless Boy George takes me up on my invitation to join us in the studio. Or Sandy Walker replies to my invite.
We have a great show planned, though...with an exclusive interview with WBB head Coach Jeff Walz and recaps of the BIG EAST Tournament and Louisville's impending foray into the NCAA Tournament. Plenty of exciting softball and lacrosse action to discuss as well and Jeff will be ready to deliver his version of Danny Boy with Merl, Daryl and Bill the Goat in celebration of St. Patrick's Day...just in case it all falls apart and we're desperate for filler time.