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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Villanova takes Men's NCAA Tournament -- Women's Basketball and Walz: TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


With nothing on the UofL sports calendar today, and the National Championship game having been played last night for NCAA Men's Basketball, I thought we'd take a brief diversion from our normal coverage of UofL women's sports and discuss the title game. Villanova and Jay Wright. 

Did you watch the game last night? I made it through...although I have to admit the "yawns" and sleep needs did make that a dubious proposition for me. I don't like the late start that defines the final game...maybe I'm like Jeff Walz and don't like late games. Maybe it's because I'm an early riser and I don't live on the West Coast. I know, it's about the TV ratings, so they say, but why has this game been moved from one of the "national channels" to one that most people have but aren't always tuned into? It is a symptom of the "if we play it, they'll find it?" scenario? Would the Oscars, or the World Series or Super Bowl be regulated to one of the "double digit" channels that my cable provider offers? 

In any event, it was a convincing win by the Villanova Wildcats, getting huge play from a non-starter in Dante DiVincenzo with 31 points. The Wildcats overcame an early seven-point deficit to lead 37-28 at the half. DiVincenzo isn't a "one and done" so many that are on the UK and Duke rosters. He didn't even start the second half after 18 first-half points. They call the redhead "the Big Ragu" and his sauce smothered the Wolverine defense all night. Two titles in three years, now, for the Big East school located in Philadelphia. 

Jalen Brunson from Villanova, the National Player of the Year, had no trouble surrendering the spotlight to DiVincenzo last night. The "if he's hot, feed him" philosophy worked quite well. DiVincenzo just seems to have fun out on the court, winking at the TV announcers after sinking a three early in the second half. The Wildcats dominance in this six-game stretch was impressive. They won all six games by double-digits plus.

For Michigan, the beleaguered also-ran in the title game...a continuance of the Big 10 syndrome over the past 15 or so years of one of their conference schools reaching the final game and failing to launch. Louisville did it to Michigan back in 2013. You can go back to almost the start of the century and see the other "second best" efforts out of the conference. 

So, let's look at Jay Wright...who has definitely secured his spot as one of the best "younger" coaches in Division I NCAA basketball. Wright goes after players that fit his system...a system that appears to be working just fine. Nova hasn't had a recruiting class that has been ranked in the top 25 in the last five years. 

Wright is a players coach. Wright chooses not to bring in the "next NBA superstars" that John Calipari prizes so dearly and wins with effort, team-work, consistency and getting his players to perform to the best of their abilities in a system that stays with what got them there....hitting threes and playing defense. The three-ball was a rough thing to find early for VU....going 1-9...but they eventually found the mark on the trifecta and sank 10 for the night. Two nights earlier, they bucketed 18 threes against Texas Tech.  

So, has Wright established a burgeoning dynasty at Villanova? And, does the NBA come calling now? There will be more than just a few head coaching vacancies after the end of the NBA season. Do dollars draw Jay away from the NCAA? One could hardly blame him for making the "money grab". The thing is, can his style of basketball work in the pros? I certainly hope he puts on blinkers and stays away from the lure of the "bright lights, big city" appeal of the professional basketball league. He needs to stay in a conference that also produced Chris Mack, a name that Cardinal fans have come to know quite well over the last two weeks. 

The Big East has weaned itself from the football powers that dotted their landscape just a few years ago.  Small schools with Catholic ties for the most part now. Xavier, Nova, Seton Hall, Creighton, Butler, Providence, Marquette, Georgetown, St. John and DePaul. A big change from the days of the early 1990's when Rutgers, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Miami, Syracuse, Boston College and UConn claimed conference membership. This 'Nova team has the swagger of one of those old Big East basketball powers, though. The days of "little Louie" and his sweater. Rollie, John Thompson, Boeheim and Calhoun. 

A heck of a year for the city of Brotherly Love. The Super Bowl and now the NCAA Championship. Maybe the Phillies next? Maybe Bionca Dunham, Louisville WBB player and native of the "Cheese-steak capital of the world"...maybe she's the MVP of the women's tournament next year? Philly's on a roll. All this, from a town and fan base who booed Santa Claus a few years back and threw snow balls at him...

Have a great, wet Tuesday. Baseball and softball later this week, if the weather cooperates. All that about April showers bringing May flowers, you know. And wet basements and driveway puddles...


I took to Facebook a few days back to release some thoughts on the rumor circulating about Jeff Walz leaving Louisville. The entry got a good amount of response. Walz, for all we know, will or maybe already has started negotiations with A.D. Vince about a contract. 

I wanted to share a response with you from my ol' pal Cliff Travis: 

"Hopefully, any negotiations will include benefits for the program - a seating/ticketing program that builds fans, more fan promos, more fan activities/promos for the players, etc. There should be a row of "women's banners" in the KFC YUM! Center rafters. 

There is a lot of excitement for the team - last year thaat would have meant higher ticket prices and seat taxes. Hopefully, that won't happen this year - but, instead, changes will be toward those that are coach, player and fan friendly. 

The men's team should be encouraged to attend women's games and there should be a lot of student promotions, free student tickets for the student section, student prizes and promos. Build a rowdy fan base through the students (you know, the actual college basketball fans). Bring in more youth groups and b-ball teams in their uniforms. 

Let's hear from you. Your thoughts? 

I can recall going to WKU a few years ago to watch the WBB squad tangle with the Hilltoppers in Diddle Arena. Sonya and my media seats were literally right in front of the student section. What I witnessed, in addition to a Louisville loss, was a rowdy student fan-base that had yell-leaders, free pizza, cheerleaders that performed for them and fed off their responses. It was a bit exciting and kind of over-whelming. 

They even targeted me...a few of the kids in the front row imploring me to share stat sheets with them and inquiring on how I was going to write the game up and thanking me for sending Michelle Clark-Heard to Western. (I deny any role in that move). Some were even asking Sonya how she ended up with "such an old man". It was all mostly good-natured and, guess what...even despite the loss, it was FUN. Even Michelle Clark-Heard came over and welcomed us to Diddle. She seemed genuinely happy we made the 1 1/2 hour drive. She teased me about converting me over to WKU women's hoops. 

So close. THe final shot in regulation by Louisville against
Mississippi St. 
The state of college basketball in Louisville is strong. Be there no doubt about that. This city, this campus, this community and the fan base will talk basketball all year-long. It impacts so many things that we, as a community are proud of. Can we make it even bigger? Can we shed the past few years of NCAA and FBI investigations and continue to grow, prosper and chart a new course that will increase the basketball-crazy landscape we have here? 

What do you want to see out of 2018-19 Cardinal WBB? Comments section is open, have a "take". 


Congratulations to Ken S. who took our NCAA WBB Pick 'EM by one point over The Real Joe Hill. There was a big-log jam for third room on the platform for all you bronze medal winners! 

We had a great turnout for the event and once again, a special thanks to Jared Anderson for being Bracket Czar. 



  1. As someone works in a capacity on campus I've always been baffled by how little is done on campus to promote women's basketball. There has been little to no excitement on campus for what the women have done this season. I am not sure whose job that is to engage the campus, but more of that needs to be done. Also there is little to no presence among the team and/or coaches on campus, and even less now that women's basketball has moved further down floyd to the little yum. How cool would it be to have a meet and greet with the team and coaches on campus? I've been on campus for five years and have never seen a coach walking on campus. There's just a detachment of the athletic programs that aren't men's basketball and football from the rest of the student body and campus community. This is not a post to pass blame, but just hoping that are things that can be done to engage on that front because how awesome would it be to have another 5,000 to 6,000 people in the yum cheering for women's basketball?

  2. I am down on campus at least once a week and sometimes more often. Let's just say I have business down there occasionally. I hit the SAC mostly but have been in the "Little Yum!" and other facilities.

    I see coaches but they are usually "on the go". They don't know me from "Joe Blow" but if I say "Hi!" I'll usually get a reply. Some, I'll admit, I don't know if they're actually a coach or not and I don't recognize all the coaches at UofL by site -- a disclaimer.

    When Walz was in the SAC, he was approachable and I've greeted him and congratulated him on various stuff. Noe that he's in the Little YUM! I see a lot less of him.

    One coach (name withheld) several year ago actually took several minutes to talk to me and was interested in what I thought about this coach's program. When I admitted I'd never been to one of this coach's events, this coach asked me to attend one and get back with (him/her) and just tell what I experienced after I went.

    I did attend and gave feedback. Don't know if it helped at all but that was nice -- to have a coach seek out a sports fan but never attend this type of event, ask for feedback and listen to what I had to say.

    Go CARDS, in all the sports. More coaches should follow this coach's example.


    1. Thanks for your perspective. My comment wasn't about coaches being unapproachable when approached. It was about coaches maybe leaving the building and coming onto campus and interacting with students on campus. The average student isn't going down to the little yum. If you want more students to come to the games, come on campus, do some giveaways, have a "meet coach walz" event for students, hand out pizza, or something like that. I'm on the belknap campus almost every day and there hasn't to my knowledge been any intentional overtures or promotions geared toward the students on campus. It doesn't have to be the coaches doing the soliciting, though that would help. Just someone in promotions. The team's social media person. Somebody creating a presence on campus among the student body.

      You want students at the games. Most of the students are young. They aren't watching the morning news programs that Jeff and the players go on sometimes to promote the team. They aren't coming out to Chili's to the Coach Walz show. All of those things are geared toward the middle-aged fan. I hope the promotions department, whomever those folks may be, capitalize on this great run that this team has had. I appreciate all the staff does to get people out and excited about the team.

    2. Fully understand and we appreciate the clarification, in case anyone had any doubts.

      I've been lucky and blessed to have pretty much any contact with coaches as long as I follow the proper protocols for arranging interviews and meetings with them.

      There have also been a few "spur of the moment" encounters, which I won't go into here.

      Louisville does need to reach out and explore the student attendance in all sports. Gotta get the classmates in the seats.


    3. Thanks Paulie. I never want to come off as disparaging because I know everyone associated with the program works hard. I know you work hard to bring light to women's sports at the university. I'd love to see racocous student sections at all women sporting events. This site goes a long way towards that goal. Keep doing what you're doing!

  3. I am going to take some exception to Cliff Travis in his implied assumption that fans other than students are not real fans. We have had season tickets for 12 years and we fill our seat for every home game and attend many on the road. I do research, follow recruiting, and the fan sites including The Cardinal Couple. I can't do all that the kids can do butI am a true fan. But I understand what Cliff is saying and he has some great ideas.

    1. I'm not sure Cliff meant that. He's a season ticket holder as well and has been for awhile. He's a real fan. I think he was just trying to spur some student attendance and events. As you know, it's been significantly lacking at UofL WBB contests.


  4. I would like to see the AD commit to have serious and ongoing discussions with the ACC and NCAA about the quality and training of referees especially in regards to women's basketball. I don't think all calls should go in favor of UofL but the officiating needs to be consistent not only within a single game but from game to game.

  5. Amen to that sister! Even my husband was like isn't that a foul?! He knows nothing about basketball! How sad!

  6. I've said multiple times that a way to improve attendance would be to make season ticket holders use their tickets in order to earn their priority points. A lot of season ticket holders only purchase the tickets to improve their standing for access to tickets, events, etc. to men's sports events.

    1. I also think the Card Pass took some season ticket holders out too.

    2. I agree that was not a great marketing idea either.

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Now, have your take...