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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Louisville women's basketball -- Investment -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Investment hopes to pay big dividends in April

We start you out this morning with the concept of investment. Webster's Dictionary tells us it's the creation of capitol or goods capable of producing other goods or services. Don't let me be misunderstood here...I'm not implying that Jeff Walz or Jessica Laemmle have a sure-fire investment strategy for you that will turn $100's into $1000's...or that by following David Levitch's betting advice on the'll turn those tens into twenties (although, he is a pretty sound race handicapper...). We're going to look at investment in a different light. 

Investment in your program. In the 12 players' portfolio that met yesterday for the first time this season on campus, it has to be the #1 strategy. (Dana Evans will join the squad in July...after she graduates from high school in June). The rule. The guiding principal. What can you create to produce a payoff come April? Are you fully on-board? Are your goals aligned with what the team philosophy is? Are you willing to assume the responsibility of helping guide this unit to Final Four status? 

Louisville head women's basketball coach Jeff Walz tells a great story about his first days on campus after being first interviewed by Tom Jurich. He had a sit-down with several of the key returning players from the 2006-2007 squad. They they had advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament the previous season before getting bumped off the dance floor by Arizona State in Los Angeles. They wanted to know what Walz could do to get them to the next level. How was he going to get them to the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight or Final Four? 

He told them there was nothing he could do. He was a bad shooter and had slow feet. He told them that they had to invest in the program to get it to the next level. He asked them if any of them had contacted the four incoming freshmen. A call to them to let them know everything was going to be OK despite the coaching change and that they were there for future teammates... to answer any questions or just talk about the team. The players looked at each other in silence. No, they hadn't thought to do that. Walz indicated that maybe they should invest in their future.

The next day Patrika Barlow, a returnee on that squad, stopped Walz before his second meeting with Jurich. She reported that the squad had called and contacted Kiara Evans, Dez Byrd, Laura Terry and Keisha Hines. Assurances were made, the investment in the future had been accomplished. 
And, as we know, Jeff Walz was offered the job. 

Investment. Some aren't willing to make them.

Some are more stuck on the idea that they want to play closer to home. That leads to another Walz story where he joked about maybe needing to go on recruiting trips with a map of the United States to show the players where Louisville is and where they are. Sometimes, after a year or so, a player suddenly...or gradually realizes that a particular spot maybe isn't the place that they want to be. The lure of family and friends in Texas, California,Virginia...wherever...overcomes to commitment to the current scenario. In that case, it's best to go. For some, it comes earlier than others. Some just want to play. They choose to make a new investment in a more favorable market or scenario. 

Investment...even if you aren't a principal in the scheme. Jeff Walz will tell you that he never promises anyone that they'll be a starter when he recruits them...but he'll give them every chance to earn that role. Competition ensures. Some turn out better than others. Coaches will tell you that they don't have favorites on their squads...that aside, the girl who consistently sinks the mid-range jumper or blocks out on a rebounding attempt probably gathers a little more praise that the player who doesn't pass the ball or dribbles like she's getting points for each bounce.

"Not in front of my friends, Dad!" 
Another great coaching story involves a guard that was prone to dribbling. The coaching staff pulled her out of practice and put her in front of a rack of balls. They told her that, for the rest of practice, her role was to dribble each of them and make sure the air pressure was right for the rest of the squad...since she had shown them what her primary skill was. 

Investment. Whether you're a starter, sub or practice is the most valuable skill a player can bring to a team. It is true in field hockey, lacrosse, cross country or golf. What are you willing to invest? 

I go back to a story from a few years ago. I had an interview scheduled with Louisville's lacrosse coach...Kellie Young. We had received a light bit of snow that morning and as I walked up to the coach's office...I noticed a solitary player on the pitch of the lacrosse field, practicing shots in a area that had been cleared off. I asked Coach about it. She told me it was Nikki Boltja. She told me that she was the hardest working player she had ever coached. Rain or shine, light of day or dark of evening, blazing hot or bitterly cold...Nikki was going to get her shots in. Working on the investment. She ended up second on the total goals scored at Louisville career list. She parlayed that into an assistant coaching job at Stetson University after serving as a volunteer coach at Louisville after graduation. She'll also play professionally this summer for the Baltimore Ride in the United Women's Lacrosse League. 

How are their investments doing?
A quote goes..."it's what you do when no one is watching that is the true test of character."  Which players will invest in the additional hours in the gym, working on the weak points of their game? Figuring out what it is they can do to be fully invested in the program. Working when there is no one around or with a teammate on free throws, rebounding...conditioning. The coaches get two hours a week for the next eight weeks or so to work with their "investments". The key is....what will the investments do with the other 166 hours of the week to contribute to the cause?

What are you willing to invest to get the desired result? It's a question all of us ask ourselves at one time or another. And, most importantly...will you follow through on it? 

"Successful Investing takes time, discipline and patience. No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant."  -Warren Buffet.



  1. Wonderful stuff, Paulie. Let's hope the WBB squad takes the investment seriously and it pays off next spring.

    -- The Real Joe Hill --

  2. Well written Paulie. A great life lesson for everyone not just an athlete. And, I think never too late to apply to the way we live.


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