(As a special treat for you, we bring in David Watson for the day before Christmas CARDINAL COLUMN this morning. One of "the originals" here at the COUPLE, David follows us from the warmer climate of Florida. Although we don't hear from him as much as back in the early days, David's thoughts and reactions to UofL women's basketball are still always a good read and I appreciate him taking the time to bring us this morning's entry)! -Paulie -
SECOND SEASON AWAITS LOUISVILLE WBB
Hey Ho ! Dave-O here! First on the agenda, I'm sincerely wishing the Cardinal Couple staff, readers and sponsors a very Merry Christmas !!
The Watson household is nestled into their beds as I write this late on Sunday night. My wife Donna and I are tickled and pleased to have all three of our children home for the Holidays. Oldest daughter Abby in from "the Big Apple" and grateful to be in "the warm" as she calls it. Son David Jr. (who actually lives across town here in Bradenton) back from three days of golf and recreation in Bermuda. Our youngest Whitney, a high school senior, enjoying her Christmas break and hasn't had a single battle or argument with her older sister yet, so it truly is the "most wonderful" time of the year, in terms of sibling rivalry. They send their best and even Flabby the Dog raises a conciliatory paw in greeting to the readership.
|Look at you, Sammi Jean !!|
When the women return to campus, the second season gets underway. That, of course, is ACC play. Louisville has prepared well for the arduous task ahead, creating a 12-0 record, #3 ranking in DI and a ton of excitement for Cardinal Athletics fans. From the close calls against Arizona State and Central Michigan, the triumph over in-state rival Kentucky and the various domination and successes over the other nine pre-conference foes -- the Cards are sitting up in the rare air of "teams to beat" status/location for the National Championship. The journey, so far, has gone as planned. The remainder is uphill and filled with potential hazards in that road to Greensboro.
That trail and road to the pinnacle that awaits ahead isn't going to easy easy at all. 16 conference tests, one huge out-of-ACC encounter (with UConn) and facing a defense of their titles from the conference last season against 14 schools eager to take it from them will be akin to the last several miles of a marathon, in terms of endurance, ability and stamina.
Jeff Walz's Cards are one of three unbeaten teams in the ACC after non-conference play. They, along with Virginia Tech and North Carolina State remain perfect. Nipping at these threes heels are FSU and Notre Dame at 11-1. Tracking them are Miami and Syracuse with 11-2 marks. Surprising Boston College, at 10-2, has only stumbled to #13 ranked Minnesota and Providence under first-year coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee's tutelage. Georgia Tech (9-3) boasts the multiple ACC Rookie of the Week in Elizabeth Balogun. Clemson (9-4) rounds out the Top Ten in ACC standings with first-year coach Amanda Butler making an immediate impact down in the land of palmettos and boiled peanuts. 14 of the 15 in the ACC are over .500.
Louisville tests their footing on this slippery slope when they bring the Sylvia Hatchell led North Carolina TarHeels into the KFC YUM! Center on January 3rd. At 8-5, the Chapel Hill squad has had a challenging pre-conference slate, with losses to Colorado, #18 Kentucky, Ohio State, Maine and Auburn. Dangerous with Stephanie Watts, Janelle Bailey and Paris Kea suiting up in Tar Heel blue. If you want a sneak peek at the UNC squad, they'll face Howard on December 28th., a warm-up for them before coming to the home of the Kentucky Derby. Duke and Notre Dame, both away games for Asia Durr and company, await after that. Three challenging games in a week, but, that is what the ACC is. No easy nights. No coasting.
The crew here at the Couple will get you prepared for all of those and more as the season unwinds. I'll just take a moment to laud them, if I might. Paulie has assembled a great and varied group of columnists here at the beloved CC. Besides his writings, I enjoy Case's in-depth looks at anything he writes about. Worldwide Jeff always brings a strong column and Jared couples his skills at photography with great takes on the action he covers. Sonya, no longer involved with the writing here and assuming an administrative role, does sneak over to Louisville Rivals and covers the Cards WBB exploits there. My hat is off to all of those five.
Can the Cards continue to count on the #1 player in college WBB -- the amazing Asia Durr? Will Dana Evans keep on with her super sophomore year? Will strong Sam Fuehring and bouncy Bionca Dunham revitalize Cardinal rebounding and paint presence? Does the dynamic Jazmine Jones have more Sportscenter Top Ten moments ahead of her in the next three months? Can Kylee Shook bring the quality minutes we've seen out of her so far? Does Arica Carter continue to lead the floor action and display her dramatically improved shooting skills? How about the fabulous freshmen off the bench -- what will the roles be for marvelous Mykasa Robinson, lights-out Lindsey Duvall and steady Seygan Robins? I'll echo Worldwide's remarks that we want to see Jess Laemmle continue to be a crowd pleaser and "take the open look, Jess"!
All will be revealed soon.
So, in conclusion, I'd like to end by encouraging you to be vocal, be supportive and back the Louisville women's basketball squad in 2019. I'll be watching and listening from down here -- the Internet is a marvelous entity and keeps me in the loop. My pal Joe Hill and I have a trip planned to FSU to watch UofL face the Noles there. We're talking a road trip also to Clemson. And, I do hope to get to Louisville maybe in February while I'm on the way to visit relatives in Muncie, and maybe catch the Cards against Miami down at 2nd and Main.
Paulie assured me he'd add a few photos to my offerings today and I'm sure he'll come up with some sort of introductory statement for the column. I'll try to be more of a visitor here in 2019 as well. A slow-to-recover wrist has my golf game and typing skills on the disabled list lately, but -- know that I'm reading daily and cheering just as hard as you are. Give the boys and their guests a listen on The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour too! This Saturday Morning romp is an hour well-spent and seeing them on Facebook Live only adds to the madcap fun and information they present weekly.
Take time in the next few days to renew old contacts. Tell someone you love them. Be a giver. Help brighten someone's day. Enjoy. Will you remember the real reason for this season and will you be a better person and an example for others to follow in 2019?
We know not the days we have remaining here on this big, blue orb. Will you rise in the morning and greet the day? Will you retire at night knowing you did what you could to make it a better place for all?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!!