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Monday, April 2, 2018

Agunbowale Again -- Irish take National Championship 61-58 -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


Oh no she didn't do that again...(well, yes, she did --as a matter of fact). Arike Ogunbowale knocked down the off-balance, buzzer beating three last night in Columbus and gave Notre Dame the three-point win over Mississippi St. to claim the NCAA women's basketball national championship game last night in Columbus, OH. A game-winner in the semis. A game-winner in the final. What's the odds? 

A game that, if you're a Louisville Cardinal fan, basically came down to seeing two schools who had been in the UofL headlights this season battle for a title that Louisville pretty much got "pushed out" of the way for on Friday night -- to use a term -- and a lesser of two evils decision to root for, if you even had the want to root for either...for Cardinal fans who chose to watch the game. 

I chose not to return to Nationwide Arena Monday night. Not very interested in the eight-hour round trip to see the team that controversially knocked off Louisville go against a team that Louisville had defeated twice this season. No desire to sit banner-level high in the top of an arena with no dog in the fight. The ESPN broadcast worked just fine for this unlikely final game. 

Seats in the front row? Nah, not for this guy in Columbus...
How can I call it an unlikely final game? With two #1 seeds playing? I'll ask you, did you have the Irish and the Bulldogs facing off in the final when you did your women's tournament bracket? Was there any way undefeated UConn would stumble again in the semifinals? Especially to a team they had defeated earlier in the year? Yes, Mississippi State was ranked slightly higher in the polls than Louisville (#2 for the Dogs, #3 for the Cards) but confidence here and in a lot of other different places exuded that Louisville would find a way to down McCowan and Vivians and set up another tryst with Geno's dogs. 

Sometimes life just ain't fair. 

Notre Dame, with the four ACL injury-sidelines girls. The snub of not mentioning Asia Durr's name by "that other coach". The Irish didn't have much of an answer for McCowan either but took advantage of a late MSU cold streak and then, almost as if Hollywood has scripted it, Steven Spielberg directed it and (name any popular young actress out there today) was cast in the #24 jersey to heroically knock the shot down. 

Somewhere, Kobe is smiling. 

And she complains about "touch fouls"?  Yeah, OK.  
But, did the Irish get the break against the Bulldogs that the Cards didn't? In the final intense seconds, on the wild exchange of possessions at mid-court, it sure looked like Notre Dame's Mabrey fouled Mississippi State before McCowan ultimately fouled Notre Dame to prevent a breakaway layup. Another case of a ref sitting on a whistle?

Go back and watch it.

And, McCowan missing the bunny underneath the basket that would have given the Bulldogs a 60-58 lead? Irish eyes were smiling. Which leads to McGraw's moronic, in the heat of the moment religious reference post game -- about how a bunch of "good Catholics" got their prayers answered on Easter Sunday. 

What, the Southern Baptist or Church of God prayers being offered in Starksville were not heard? Were the "good Catholics" on the MSU campus prayers not considered? 

But, we won't dally on religious overtones here.

Tell me just how good you think I am, Dee...
What we will consider is that Notre Dame had one foot in the grave early but came back. Down 24-24 in the second quarter. 30-17 at the half. Then, tying it at 41-41 after three before momentarily stumbling again and having to rally to get to a tie late. Call it what you will, but -- it was a feat of perseverance from  the South Bend squad. 

In the end, it was "that player" from "that team" coached by "that woman" who got the spotlight. Arike Ogunbowale is talented, make no mistake about that. She'll be back next year to lead what has to be considered another very strong...maybe #1 ranked team for ol' N.D. To put together two shots like her game-winners is remarkable. 

Back also, though, is the "big" the TV analysis crew kept referring to. McCowan improved dramatically over the course of the season. She set a new NCAA Tournament rebounding record. Notre Dame did only slightly a better job defending her -- basically because they kept pounding her with the triple tag team of Nelson, Shepard and Westbeld. 18 points and 17 boards is still an impressive night -- but McCowan will probably be remember for missing the close-in shot as time ticked down that could have gave Mississippi State the lead. 

She shoots, she scores...
So, the most unlikely of the final four teams, in my humble opinion, is your National Champs. I'll be the good sport here and congratulate Notre Dame for winning. 

Somewhere, there's a part of me who wants to believe that it was all just an April Fool's prank and that Louisville is in the final game. 

Last but not least, I will mention the ridiculousness of having to bring the Bulldogs back out to play the last tenth-of-a-second of the game. I know, rules are rules...but it was impossible for any catch and release from three-point range to happen. A ref-stealing moment or five in what should have been the start of an Irish celebration.

Wave it off, Dee. Just call it a game. I wouldn't have put a team back out on the court if I was Coach Schaefer. Take a forfeit, whatever. Why put those kids through the humiliation of having to go back out there when all hope was lost? But, of course, it is the NCAA. Enough said. 

Hey, Cardinal fans. At the very least, we can boast that we beat the Nationals Champs twice. The future looks very bright for Cardinal women's hoops in 2018-19. Below, let's chat a little about that, shall we? 


When Jeff Walz looks at the Cardinals' prospective 2018-19 roster, I'd be very surprised if a smile doesn't pop out his face. All return except for the incredible Hines-Allen. And with two red-shirts (Lindsey Duvall and Loreta Kakala) and three freshmen (Seygan Robins, Molly Lockhart and Mykasa Robinson) joining the fold...the Cards will have 14 players reporting to fall conditioning. OK, I know there is the possibility of transfers. It seems two or three depart each year. Even with that chance, it's a strong and talented collection of women who will don the practice jerseys and pound the hardwood later this year. 

I had the chance to talk with David Watson, women's college hoops aficionado, a bit on Sunday afternoon and we discussed the returnees. It's never too early to talk about what we love, right? 

We discussed who enters the starting lineup now that Hines-Allen has graduated. It came down to several scenarios. Do the Cards go "small" and put talented guard Dana Evans out for pre-game introductions? Do they go "big" and go with Kylee Shook or Bionca Dunham as the fifth starter? Does one of the returning red-shirts claim the role? Is one of the incoming freshmen going to impress enough to fill out the starters? 

Jeff Walz will tell you that it isn't all that important who is on the court for the opening tip, it's who is out there in a close game with little time left on the clock. And, he's right. We saw a lot of Dana Evans on the court when Walz needed to sit a starter. Shook and Dunham also had significant court time when Walz needed to go to the bench. Seygan Robins is an incredible incoming talent. Loretta Kakala has made great lepas and bounds according to many during her red-shirt year. There are options. 

Let me make it perfectly clear that you do not replace Myisha Hines-Allen. She may well be the second-most proficient player to compete her years of eligibility in Cardinal history. Definitely in the top five and one that brought a fire, intensity and skill-set to UofL that Cardinal fans will remember for a very long time. 

David seems to think that the Cards would be best served if they give Evans the full-time gig. She was impressive in the Mississippi State game and has the speed, quickness and defense to create havoc for opponents. We'd like to see that shot get a little more accurate...but look at the improvement we saw in Jazz Jones her sophomore year. Surely Evans has that growth potential as well.

I took a different route. I'm leaning toward Shook. She has all the skills a big needs. She can step out and bun an opponent and has shown she can be tough in the paint and do the things this team needs in rebounding and giving them additional paint presence. You can't teach height and wing-span and Shook has those features for sure.  

Ultimately, no matter what we prognosticate in April means nothing for the fall. It'll be a matter of who does the best work to get the start. Or the close. The UofL team is a tight-knit, cooperative group. It wouldn't surprise us to see Walz experiment with a variety of combinations early on in the schedule. 

Gee, it is fall yet? 


Louisville Women's tennis took on #4 ranked Duke in ACC competition and fell to the Blue Devils 6-1. The Cards are 13-6 on the season and go to 3-5 in the ACC. Duke 16-1 with a 8-0 conference record. 

Louisville Rowing competed against #2 Cal in the PAC 12 Challenge finals and won one of three events against the Bears. The "Stroke" Cards won the Varsity 8+ event...a major victory for the Red and Black. 

Louisville now looks ahead to the ACC Championships on April 14-15th.  


Whaddya mean I didn't win
the bracket challenge? 
Be sure to check back later today for our final, official results of our NCAA Women's Tournament "Pick Em". We gave Bracket Czar Jared Anderson Easter off (nice of us, eh?) but he's indicated he'll run the results in depth just one more time and get us the winner and second-place contestants. We'll update this section and also post them on "The Right Side of the Site."  

We'd like to thank him for checking the results and also thank you for participating! 

Now that hoops has ended, we'll be providing much more coverage on the other spring sports that the UofL women are competing in. We also plan on continuing basketball stories and have plans to get interviews with whomever we can that is involved with WBB at UofL over the next seven months. 

Our commitment to UofL women's sports is a 24 hour...7 day-a-week...365 days a year involvement. We appreciate you being here and, we never forget....YOU are CARDINAL COUPLE. 




  1. How can they not call a foul on Mabrey? That was an even worse no-call than when McCowan fouled MHA.

  2. Yeah, I agree Mike. Another case of a ref swallowing a whistle. The crew with Kanter and "Silly Joe" Vazsily I thought was a good one but they really blew that.


  3. Karma!
    And Mississippi State fans having the audacity to complain!!!
    I was personally rooting for Notre Dame. May as well be an ACC team, although I just can't shake the thought that it SHOULD HAVE BEEN US!!!
    All in all, though, that was one helluva final four with three epic games.

  4. Congratulations to Coach McGraw and Notre Dame WBB program.ACC is a tuff league.
    This year was a successful season a final four.
    Next year team has great potential loaded with more fire power with a deeper bench.Replacing MHA by committee(Shook***),Bionca & Retta.
    More deep outside fire power with Lindsey,Sydney & the kentucky gals.Go Cards another Final Four

  5. PS I hope Myisha Hines-Allen has a great WNBA career she's truly a top 5 prospect.

  6. Paulie, I just noticed the picture that you posted showing the view from your seat at Nationwide Arena. Our view was worse - we were in the very top row in the upper concourse, directly behind the basket at the Miss State end of the court.

    But - we were in the arena, and glad that we were there.

    1. Yeah, I wasn't foolsih enogh to think I'd get the great, on-court view that I did for the Pre-WNIT games, and there was a LOT of Louisville media up there with me in the ozone. The only real advantage we had was a "media-designated" elevator to get us back down to floor level and they did get us stat sheets each quarter.

      We shared the booth with the UConn student radio crew and another guy we never quite figured out just what he did. The UConn student-radio were pretty funny and were cheering for the Cards at the end. The other fella was barely aware there was a basketball game going on, letting everyone know on eight forms of social media that he was there. Repeatedly.

      I did notice the banners. Up to and including 2013, they had "Connecticut" as winners in the years they won. After that, they had "UConn".

      We were laughing about that one little old lady that was probably out there and asking her grandson why "Connecticut" wasn't any good in basketball anymore and how "UConn" became so good recently.

      The radio guys had the perfect answer. It's two distinct sources and entities that Geno has set up for recruiting, slush money, donations and fund-raising.


  7. Who knew the nat'l championship was won when Jessica Shephard was granted a waiver to play right away for Notre Dame
    I had no issue with Nebraska,” Shepard said. “Ultimately it came down to what I wanted to accomplish in college and the next level. Nebraska just wasn’t the place to get me there.”
    She shot 8-10 21 points. What a player. Total poise and confidence. Great passer. Did pretty good on McCowan.

  8. So, Muffet is the media darling for a few days. If they only knew the real Muffet...

  9. Anyone who thinks UConn has a stranglehold on WBB has obviously been in a coma the last 12 months. The Geno stock is dropping.

    Curtis "A little 'husky' myself" Franklin

  10. Sad ending to an awesome season..IMHO just a couple comment WE needed all.five players to score and that didn't happen...Sam F. Fouling out was Hugh and we didn't get scoring that we needed ...But lessons learned....I kept waiting for her to drive to basket but she looked shell shocked and scared to do so..I was very surprised by that. I still say she was most improved this year! And I will say this over and over again MHA through her four years has Always stepped on tourny time...And I didn't see that until the end of tourny time by the POY. I was actually glad Muffet won ...I don't care for Mccowan attitude telling refs how to do there job! Calm down she's no Michael Jordan! At 6 foot7 you best be getting all those rebounds ...talented? I'm not that impressed with someone with that height. Also what was with Kylee shook smiling and looking happy trying to talk to Sam on the bench when it was clearly NOT the time to do so! I will be back next year even tho my MHA is gone...Good luck next year Cards! And great season over all!


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