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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WKU looking to be "Toppers" of the Hill in CUSA

WKU 21-4 Under Michelle Clark-Heard

Pardon, if you's slight deviation from UofL women's sports. Former UofL assistant coach (and current WKU head coach) Michelle Clark-Heard and former UofL great and current assistant coach Candyce Bingham are having a season to remember "up on the Hill" in Bowling Green at Western Kentucky University. 

Toss in ex UofL assistants Margaret Richards and Greg Collins who are assistants at WKU and this theory...basically a UofL women's sports article about former Cardinal coaches and players.  

Things are hopping on the Hill. 

WKU is 21-4 on the season and 10-2 in Conference USA. Not
much is left of the old CUSA that the Cards were a part of...but the Hilltoppers are involved in a three-way dog fight for the conference lead. Middle Tennessee State is atop the leader board at 11-2, Cardinal fans will remember Southern Miss...the Golden Eagles are 10-3 in CUSA play and WKU sits at 10-2. 

Michelle Clark-Heard's red towel wavers can determine their fate in the rankings in a showdown with visiting MTSU at the E.A. Diddle Arena in a Saturday 2 p.m. CST battle. Before that, they'll host UAB on Thursday night...another team that UofL followers will remember. 

With a little luck, WKU could be 23-2.

They suffered a one-point loss at UTSA and two-point home loss to Southern Miss. Mississippi State downed the Hilltoppers in Starksville by 11 in the non-conference part of the schedule and Louisville handled Gooch and Govan by 21 in the KFC YUM! Center. 

In all fairness, it was an exhausted WKU squad that took on Walz's bunch. The Louisville game was their fourth in eight days...the Toppers getting to the finals of the Preseason WNIT prior to facing UofL. 

Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch are the leaders of the Big Red's ballers. They have scored an identical 427 points in 25 games...good for a 17.1 ppg average. They've been the backbone of a team that Michelle Clark-Heard took over in 2012 that had less than desirable success over several years prior to her arrival.

Clark-Heard is getting it done with Kentucky home-grown talent. 

Micah Jones is from Greensburg, Kendall Noble hails from Hazard. Kierra Muhammad is out of Lexington and Ivy Brown comes out of Hodgenville. Gooch played at Franklin-Simpson and Jalynn McClain was a star at Jeffersonville High school...right across the Ohio River from Louisville. 

"What Michelle Clark-Heard has done is instilled pride
back in Western Kentucky.... Now with Michelle Clark-Heard, with the passion and pride she has, because she was a player at Western Kentucky, she is bringing that back to Bowling Green."
ESPN's Carolyn Peck

What they need now is fan support. WKU averages 1797 for home games. To bolster that, WKU is offering free tickets to anyone who wears red into participating IGA stores and asks for a ticket for the MTSU game. The first 1000 fans in the door will get a exclusive t-shirt. The first 1000 students in their seats get free pizza from Pizza Hut.

We see good things continuing for Michelle and her squad in the future. We hope that they take down a good MTSU squad Saturday night. Michelle is doing it the right way and we'd love to see them win the CUSA crown, get a bid to the NCAA this year and make a big run. She's won 20+ games each year she's been there. Not even Jeff Walz can say that. 

Good times and great hoops have returned to the E.A. Diddle Arena. Spurred on by a UofL contingent that helped build the Cardinals to national prominence.  

Big Red.. the loveable WKU mascot deserves nothing less.

The classic 1977 release 'Aja' by Steely Dan contains the lyrics:

"Up on the hill..they think I'm OK"

We'd agree here at CARDINAL COUPLE.



  1. Nice write up Paulie on the #2 team in the state behind UK.

    Matthew Mitchell For Governor

    1. There you go again, Ms. Gov. UK would be the 5th best team in Tennessee behind UT, Memphis, Chattanooga and Vandy and is now the 4th best team in Kentucky behind UofL, WKU and Bellarmine.

      Maybe the Cats should move to Rhode Island. They could challenge Providence and URI for state supremacy.

      Curtis Franklin

    2. Ha!. Now that's a great response Curtis. You're killin' me with Rhode Island tho...Maybe the kittens can beat up on Ernie DeGregorio & Marvin Barnes now that they're like 65 years old. At least that way they can say they finally beat a final four level club...

    3. Thank you Burn Brother.

      40-0, 40-0....40-0. o wait that is the men's team. How about second round Matthew! second round matthew!

      Curtis Franklin

  2. Nice article today! That Steely Dan recording is one of my favorites of all time. As long as Michelle doesn't subscribe to the lyrics in Deacon Blue, the Tops should continue to be OK.

    The Real Joe Hill

  3. I, too am a WKU alum. and am very proud of what Michelle has achieved, We are Fb friends and I think I will message her later. My senior year was the year that WKU went to the final four. Good times.

    1. Toppers have the juice to make an NCAA run. Must be that ex-Louisville coaching. The Walz, Collen trees have bourne fruit.


  4. Rhonda McClain2/18/2015 9:36 AM

    Great article Paulie! Thank you for including my daughters name! I am very proud of Jalynn and the Lady Toppers!!!

    1. Hi, Rhonda!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Always glad to give Jalynn props whenever we can. Are you planning your NCAA Tournament off days yet? LOL. We sincerely hope the Toppers carry on in the strong fashion they have been and Jalynn's role has been a very important and essential role in their progression. You've got to be a very proud and blessed Mom and we're definitely Jalynn fans here at CC. Here's hoping they win both Thursday and Saturday and the weather is OK so you can go watch.


  5. It was good to read your article about WKU. Even your West Coast correspondent has a connection to WKU. My grand daughter played in high school with WKU's senior Ileana Johnson. In fact, Ileana's father was their coach both in AAU ball and at Flagstaff HS in Arizona. The Flagstaff team with Ileana and my grand daugter, Sarah, lost the semi-final game of the 4A state tournament four years in a row. Those were enormously painful losses, especially twice losing to teams they had handily defeated during the season. Anyway Sarah still keeps in touch with Ileana who is now a senior.

    Ileana is a the shortest player on WKU's team but she has been getting a lot of playing time lately and has started some games. She played extensively in the game against Miss State and did pretty well, but sat the bench the whole game at Louisville for some reason. Anyway I have been following WKU all the way out here, so it was good to see your story on them.

    Gary Witherspoon

  6. Hi, Gary!

    Good to hear from you. i work at the same place Jalynn's mom does so we chat a bit about WKU WBB. It was a fun article to write. Had some nice discussions with CB, Michelle and even Greg when they were at UofL. Very happy for the successes they have achieved and hope they make a deep NCAA run.

    How have you been, sir? Let me know if you want to submit any articles....the readers enjoy your topics and style of writing.


  7. Just in case you were thinking about going to Richmond to watch a little softball this weekend:

    The University of Louisville softball team was scheduled to travel to Richmond, Ky., for the Eastern Kentucky Softball Tournament Feb. 21-22, however the tournament has been cancelled due to inclement weather. A severe winter storm produced a foot of snow on Richmond and much of Kentucky with temperatures expected to reach single digits making playing conditions unfavorable.

    The Cardinals (5-5) will return to action Feb. 28 – March 1 when they travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener. The teams will meet on Feb. 28 in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. and will wrap up the three-game series Sunday at 12 p.m.

    1. Thanks for the update, I hadn't seen this yet. I can't say I'm surprised at all, of course.


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