We report on the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports here. Thanks for checking us out! Click the picture of Louie to hear the latest Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Stanford 78 - Louisville 63 -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


A tale of two halves last night in the AlamoDome. 

The University of Louisville women's basketball squad was operating on all eight cylinders in the first half and getting great defense against the Stanford Cardinal.  Dana Evans and Kianna Smith were leading the Cards to a 21-13 first quarter advantage and the Cards had pushed that lead to 38-26 at the half. The Cardinal defense had limited Tara VanDerveer's squad to 10-of 36 shooting and the Cardinal was one for nine from three point range. It a was all any Cardinals WBB fan could ask for and hope for -- those first twenty minutes. 

Basketball is a 40 minute game, though, and the PAC 12, #1 seed in the Alamo Region assumed control in the final quarter.  

They were greatly benefitted from a student-athlete who never saw the floor in the first half. Post Ashten Prechtel hit all six of her shots, totaled 16 points and led the Cardinal in a rally that saw them cut the Louisville lead to  50-48 after three quarters and obliterate the Cards in the final quarter 30-13 for the 15-point win. 

Stanford put four in double figures, Prechtel was joined by Lexie Hull's 21 points, Kiana Williams' 14 and Haley Jones 10. Stanford shot 20-32 in the second half, made six out of eight three point attempts and won the rebounding battle 45-37. 

What Jeff Walz said post game was true. The Stanford height and length wore Louisville down and Prechtel turned the game around for the Trees. 

It ends the 2020-21 season for Louisville. It ends a stellar collegiate stay for Dana Evans, the senior guard led Louisville with 24 points, the only UofL player to reach double figures. Evans confirmed in post game remarks what we all knew -- that she was headed to the WNBA Draft and added that her time at Louisville was everything she could have asked for, except a National Championship. 

A fire alarm continually going off and a recorded announcement to vacate the facility was an annoying rival of attention during Jeff Walz's post-game remarks. And, vacate the building, the bubble and San Antonio the Cards will, as Stanford advances to play South Carolina in the Final Four. 

A painful loss and one that's hard to write about. But, I remain very proud of the Louisville squad and the 26-44 record they compiled. An ACC Regular Season Championship and bringing joy and excitement in this COVID-crazy basketball season. Evans departs, but all the other Cards return (as far as we know -- the transfer portal being what it is, it's hard to say just what will happen) and Walz has a strong nucleus to begin the 2021-22 season in the Smiths, Van Lith, Robinson, Dixon, Cochran, Balogun, Konno and two top-notch freshmen headed to the 'Ville in Payton Verhulst and Sydni Schetnan. Plus, potential transfer portal additions. 

At the end, as the Cards huddled on the court post-game, Walz pointed to the other end of the floor where Stanford was celebrating. He told them to look at the celebration, and asked the squad if that's what they wanted to be doing this time next year.  Louisville fans would like that just fine. Tomorrow's wishes begin today -- hopefully and eventually in front of a packed KFC YUM Center and no worries about distancing, masks and continuous sanitizing of surroundings. 

A season to remember and I'll let you write your own final epitaph for your thoughts on a season like no other.

Let me know in the comments section.  Reflect, remember, reminisce  and rejoice if you want on a very good season that ended too soon. 

As for me, I'll long remember the dedication, joy, hard work, excitement, love and effort Dana Evans gave us Cards fans. There will never be another Dana Evans, just like there will never be another Asia, Shoni, Angel, Myisha or Jaz for this program. The question is -- who's next to capture the hearts, love and minds of Louisville women's basketball.  The future is bright for Louisville women's basketball, great things lie ahead. You win as a team, you lose as a team and this team brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. 

Thank you, Dana. You made covering this season a joy for this old guy. Best of luck in the WNBA. 


This Fred's expression probably mirrors
the feeling of a lot of UofL WBB fans 
this morning over that second half. 

Once again, a wide disparity in teams getting to the charity stripe. The Cards couldn't get a call from  a referee crew they'd never seen before. Stanford went 11-17 from the line, Louisville 1-4. Six total Stanford fouls in 40 minutes, 17 called on UofL. Dana Evans and Kasa Robinson the only Cards to reach the stripe. No letter for 25%, the discrepancy is appalling and shameful. 

REBOUNDING -- Stanford controlled the boards in the second half and that eventually sank the Cards. 45-37 in favor of the Trees, it was 23-22 in favor of Louisville after 20 minutes. I've said here before that speed and quickness can overcome height -- sadly, I was proved wrong last night. No letter. 

EFFORT/EXECUTION -- The numbers aren't all that bad for Louisville. 40.6% from the floor, just 10 turnovers and 10-19 from three point range. 63 points wouild normally translate into a Louisville win, but the Cards were defeat in two areas -- second chance points, which went in favor to Stanford 23-8 and points-in-the paint -- a 38-24 Stanford advantage. I'll give us a small-case "e" here, that first half was spectacular for Louisville, but Stanford's height and a super sub finally got the better of the Cards

DEFENSE -- Once aain, a tale of two halves. After a great UofL defensive effort in the firstt 20, where Stanford shot just 27.7%, they rallied for 20-32 shooting for 62.5% in the final twenty minutes. The fourth quarter was fatal for UofL, allowing 30 points and 10-13 Stanford shooting. No letter. 


So, we now turn to the rest of the spring schedule here at Cardinal Couple. We hope you'll stay with us as we explore and laud the pursuits of Softball, Volleyball, Soccer, Lacrosse, Field Hockey and more.

We'll not abandon basketball completely -- monitoring and reporting on the off-season developments of Cardinals WBB as news comes up, but exciting things lie ahead for many other Louisville women's athletic squads and we'll be here to bring them to you. 

We appreciate you, the reader. YOU are Cardinal Couple. 


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Cardinals vs Cardinal -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

 Cardinals vs Cardinal

A trip to the Final Four is on the line. 2-seed Louisville gears up to take on 1-seed Stanford in the Alamo Region final.

The Cards are fresh off their best win of the NCAA Tournament, defeating 6-seed Oregon 60-42. Their first and second round victories had slow starts with the Cards having to rally in the second half in both to win. Louisville took command early against the Ducks and would not be stopped.

This is Louisville's sixth Elite Eight appearance and their third straight appearance. They are 3-2 all-time in the Elite Eight. In 2019, Louisville fell to UConn. In 2018, the Cards took down Oregon State to advance to the Final Foul in Columbus.

Dana Evans found her mojo in the Sweet Sixteen as the senior guard went off to tie her career high with 29 points. She shot above 50% from the field. Her final points came on SportsCenter's #2 play yesterday when Mykasa Robinson recorded a steal and did a no-look behind the back pass to Evans for a breakaway layup.

Robinson's moxie has been a big factor this tournament. The junior from Ashland, KY posted seven rebounds, two points, and NO turnovers against Oregon all while stepping up on defense to overwhelm her much taller competitors. 

Hailey Van Lith, who Axios valued her NIL at $965K yesterday, had another strong showing. The freshman scored eight points and hauled in seven rebounds while adding an assist and two steals. Van Lith was another force on the defensive end despite being outsized.

Kianna Smith has been consistent all tournament. The junior transfer from Cal hasn't put up MVP-like numbers, but her composure has helped the Cards get through tight spots. She posted an 11-point, five-rebound performance against Oregon.

Of course, we have to give huge props to Olivia Cochran and Elizabeth Dixon, as the duo did an excellent job against the 6'7 Sedona Prince and six other Oregon players listed at 6'2 or taller. Cochran is listed at 6'3 and Dixon is listed at 6'5 so they had their work cut out for them.

Elizabeth Balogun has six blocks this tournament. Sara Hammond and Chauntise Wright each had six blocks in an NCAA Tournament. Balogun has a chance to set the program record tonight.

UofL is allowing 46.0 points per game this tournament. The 138 total points is allowed is the fewest a Louisville team has allowed through the first three games of the tournament ever.

About Stanford

Their mascot is weird. Each year, a new tree mascot is designed and they have had some funky looking designs in the past. The Stanford band is also non-traditional with outlandish uniforms at times and having been the center of a half dozen controversies since 2000. They were one of the only bands to be a registered student organization instead of controlled by the schools' athletic or music dept until recently.

Stanford basketball has been rock solid this year. They carry a 28-2 record into tonight's game. Their only losses came in back-to-back games in mid-January. The Cardinal fell on the road in overtime to Colorado by five before falling to UCLA by four a week later. They now ride a 17-game win streak including wins over Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona, and Colorado.

Tara VanDerveer is a future Hall of Fame coach and is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history with 1122 wins. She passed Pat Summit in December and is now just a few games ahead of Geno Auriemma. VanDerveer's coaching tree is long and includes UofL's Beth Burns when the two were at San Diego State together.

Stanford has been strong on both sides of the ball, scoring 78.9 points per game while allowing 53.1 points per game. Stanford's opponents shoot a little over 32% from the field, second only to Baylor this year.

Four players average double-digits scoring for the Cardinal. Kiana Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game to lead the way. Haley Jones is scoring 12.8 points per game. Lexie Hull is averaging 11.1 points per game and Cameron Brink comes in at 10.1 points per game.

Jones and Brink have been a force on the boards, averaging 7.4 and 6.7 rebounds per game, respectively. Overall, Stanford averages 43.1 rebounds per game with roughly 30% of them on the offensive end.

Stanford's odds to win the championship before the start of the Elite Eight games was +125, just behind UConn at +105. Meanwhile, Louisville's odds to win sit at +4000.

The two foes have met just once. Remember the Final Four run back in 2018? The Cards met up with Stanford in Rupp Arena for the Sweet Sixteen. Louisville cruised to an 86-59 victory behind Asia Durr's 24 points and Myisha Hines-Allen's 17 points. Baylor's DiJonai Carrington was a freshman for Stanford that year.

This game is set to tip off at 9:00 p.m. but I expect it to tip off late if it follows suit with yesterday's games. This will be televised directly on ESPN and will also be on radio on 790-AM WKRD with Nick Curran and Adrienne Johnson.

Pick Em

We saw two great games last night. 1-seed UConn defeated 2-seed Baylor 69-67 following some late game controversy. Both teams held double-digits leads at certain points during the game and seemed to have the whole country watching.

3-seed Arizona and 4-seed Indiana had the later game. There was a little excitement in the third quarter as the teams exchanged words and a couple bumps. It was Aari McDonald's triples and 33 points that led the Wildcats to a 66-53 victory over the Hoosiers. It's Arizona's first ever trip to the Final Four.

With just five games remaining our standings have really taken shape.

48-10 Paulie

46-12 Kenny S

45-13 Callie Blue

44-14 Jason Wyrick

43-15 David Watson

42-16 Arthur, Worldwide

41-17 Jared

40-18 Blue Lou

39-19 Clemson Cuz, Vivian McAdams

38-20 Nole Knowledge, Case, Kenneth Stark Sr

37-21 Sonya

36-22 Bea

36-22 Nick O

34-24 Curtis

31-27 Joe Hill

24-34 CC Chimps

Paulie has secured a top two finish. Kenny, Callie Blue, and Jason are also still competing for a prize. Based on future picks and future round losses already no one else has a chance to win anymore. Sadly, that knocks out the rest of the Cardinal Couple crew unless Daryl wants to come in and say she hasn't lost a game yet (she did not fill out a bracket).

Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!


Monday, March 29, 2021

WBB: Dana,defense defeat Ducks 60-42 -- Softball, Volleyball, Lax News -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


The Louisville Cardinals Women's Basketball team is going to the Elite Eight. 

It'll be Cardinals vs Cardinal Tuesday night, as Louisville earned their berth to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight with a convincing 60-42 win over the Oregon Ducks Sunday night in San Antonio's Alamodome. The #2 seeded Cards will face the #1 seed Stanford Cardinal Tuesday night in the Alamo Regional final. 

Dana Evans exploted for 29 points against Kelly Graves' Oregon squad, going 11-21 from the floor and sinking four of her six free throws against the PAC 12 foe,. The Cards took off on a 15-2 run to start the second quarter to build a 10-8 lead to 25-10 with 3:21 until halftime and take control of the contest. Evans had 11 of the Cardinals points in that key second quarter and led all scorers with 13 first half points.  

Louisville's defense was also the main feature on Sunday night. They held Oregon to 30 points-below their season average and just 32.1% shooting (18-56) from the floor. Oregon made just 2 of the 18 three-point attempts they tried and were held to less than 10 points in three of the four quarters. 

The Cards led 29-14 at the halftime break and Oregon had missed all nine of their three-point attempts. The Ducks could not match Louisville's speed in the transition game and the Cardinals defense was creating havoc on the Oregon guards. Oregon did lose starter Maddie Scherr in the first half with a foot injury and another starter in Nyara Sabally in the second half with a leg injury, but the Cards were containing 6'7" sophomore center Sedona Prince, who had just four of her ten points in the first twenty minutes. 

The Ducks would make a couple of attempts to get back into the contest in the third quarter, after the Cards increased the lead to 34-16. They won the third quarter 19-14 and had cut the Louisville lead to nine on a couple of occasions in the third quarter and were within 10 at 43-33 by the end of the third quarter. Their last attempt to make it a game came to start the fourth quarter, Oregon's Prince scored the first two buckets of the fourth to get within six points...but Evans responded with two threes and a free throw to stretch the advantage back out for Louisville to 5-37 with 6:21 to play.  

The door had closed on Oregon and the Cards cruised in comfortably from there, leading by 20 late after a Van Lith jumper and SportsCenter moment -- when Kasa Robinson stole the ball, and made a behind-the-back pass while in transition to Evans who went in for a layup to make it 60-40 Cards. 

Evans 29 points tied her career high. Kianna Smith reached double figures for the Cards with 11 points and Hailey Van Lith added eight, as UofL goes to 26-3 on the season. 


Cards continue the wonderful
roller-coaster ride of 2020-21

FREE THROWS -- "Free ones" proved to be a welcome scarity for both teams Sunday night with only 17 total fouls. this was obviously not a Dee Kanter or Eric Brewton led officiating crew. Dana was the only Cardinal to attempt charity tosses, she was a bit off of her 90% accuracy rate -- making 4 of 6. That's 66.7% and fall just short of our 70% mandate for a letter, so we cannot award an "f" here. 

REBOUNDING -- The Cards led most of the way in the battle of the boards, but Oregon ended up with a 40-37 edge. That occurred because of the Ducks horrid fourth quarter shooting3-14 (21%) which allowed them several second-chance opportunities. Van Lith and Robinson led the Cards with seven each. The Cards held their own against a taller Ducks sqaud on the boards and I'll offer a small-case "r" here for the blocking out and hustling for missed shots that Louisville executed. 

EFFICIENCY/EXECUTION --  Just seven turnovers from the Cards and they actually won the points-in-the-paint battle 28-24. Louisville also led in second-chance points 18-13 and the floor shooting got better as the night went on, the Cards werre 41.3% from the floor. Also, no one had more than two turnovers for Louisville, which was refreshing to see. I think  a CAPITAL "E" is definitely deserved here. 

DEFENSE -- This is where the Cards won the game. Holding the foe to way-below their season average, forcing 14 turnovers, getting six steals, and shutting down and frustrating Prince and Boley most of the night. No question about awarding a CAPITAL "D" here. 


(You know these three are proud of
what this squad is accomplishing) 

So, the Cards move on and take on another West Coast, Pac-12 foe Tuesday in Stanford. It'll be Louisville's toughest test yet in the tournament, but, that's to be expected in the "survive and advance" concept. Louisville is one of two #2 seeds still dancing,  (Louisville and Baylor), three #1 seeds are still around (Stanford, UConn and South Carolina), and we have a #3 seed in Arizona, #4 seed in Indiana and #6 seed in Texas that consist of our Elite Eight. 

Jeff Walz and Kianna Smith will discuss it on a Zoom teleconference today at 11 a.m. and we'll monitor the words and post it here later today. 



Play ball, y'all. It's the most wonderful time of the year. 


The Softball Cards couldn't find the bats against Virginia Tech and Keely Rochard yesterday and fell 8-0 in a run-rule five inning contest at Ulmer.  The Cards managed just one hit against one of the best hurlers in the ACC, a Cassady Greenwood single and the normally sound Louisville defense had five errors in the loss. 

The Hokies touched Cardinal pitching for 11 hits, two home runs and two doubles in the game at Ulmer, and they take the weekend series three games to one. 

Taylor Roby takes the loss, allowing three runs in two innings of circle work. 

The Cards (10-14, 4-9)  head to Pittsburgh next, for a four game series, starting on Thursday. 

(Softball Photos from Jared Anderson) 


Homestanding #5 Boston College struck early and often against Louisville Lacrosse yesterday and won easily against Scott Teeter's squad 18-3 in ACC LAX action.

The Eagles jumped out to an 13-2 first half lead over Louisville, scoring the final 11 goals of that first half. The Cards were tied with BC early at 2-2, after Bella Karstein and Ally Hall found net success for UofL, but, the Eagles proved to be too much to handle the rest of the half. 

A 30-16 shot advantage for Boston College and they dominated the draw controls 16-7 in sending the Cards to their sixth loss of the year and fifth loss in ACC contests. 

The CARDS will try to get back on the winning side of things when they travel to Blacksburg to face the Hokies on Saturday. 


(Remember when...??) 

#14 Louisville Volleyball improved to 12-2 on the split season and 10-2 in the ACC with a three-game sweep of the visiting NC State Wolfpack. 

The Cards won two close sets early at 26-24 and 25-22 before putting the Pack away 25-13 in the third set. 

Anna Stevenson led Louisville with 11 kills, and Sunday's sweep propelled the Cards to the top of the ACC standings. Stevenson had six of UofL's 12 blocks in the contest and Anna DeBeer and Aiko Jones added seven kills in the Cards win.

Louisville appeared to be in good shape in the first set, leading 23-16, but a 7-0 Wolfpack run tied the contest up. The Cards took three of the final final four points, though, to pull out the "W" 

The Pack came out strong in the second set, taking a 14-7 lead early on, but, Louisville fought back with a 10-2 run to recapture the advantage at 17-16 and held off the Wolfpack for the three-pint second set win 25-22. 

It was all Louisville in the final set, the Cards jumping out to an early 9-2 advantage and easily containing the visitors the rest of the set for the 12-point set victory.

Louisville now heads to Miami for an April Fools Day contest and then to North Carolina for April 2nd action as they wait to see the pairing for the NCAA Tournament. 


"Who's in the lead? Paulie ? 
Naaahhh, check the numbers again!" 

We've got 56 games completed and seven more to go in our annual NCAA WBB Tournament  "pick em" and here's Bracket Czar Jared's updated totals for the contestants: 

Paulie still hangs on to the top spot with a 47-9 mark. He has five of the eight Elite Eight picks still alive and has a UConn vs. South Carolina championship game predicted, with the Huskies taking it all. 

Kenny S is two games behind at 45-11. He also has five of the final eight alive and has a Stanford vs, UConn final forecast, with the Cardinal taking the title. 

Callie Blue is in third at 44-12, but had Kentucky winning it all and had just four of the final eight alive. 

Other totals:

43-13 -- Jason

42-14 --  David Watson, Worldwide Jeff

41-15 -- Arthur

40-16 -- Jared

39-17 -- Blue Lou, Clemson Cuz

38-18 -- Case, KStarksr, Vivian

37-19 -- Sonya, Nole Knowledge

35-21 -- Nick O, Bea

33-23 -- Curtis

31-25 -- Joe Hill 

24-32 -- Cardinal Couple Chimps

I'll do a audit of the Czar's numbers later this morning, but, he's pretty good at math and keeping his spread sheet accurate, I doubt I find any discrepancies in the count. We've had no reported attempts to improve standings with bribes yet, Dave-O has been strangely quiet lately...after his pre-tournament trash-talking and The Cardinal Couple Chimps are claiming Jared read their bracket incorrectly and they are 55-1 overall. 

Those crazy chimps...

Have a meaningful Monday!




Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday Cardinal Couple

 Another Busy Weekend

Here we go again with another busy Saturday/Sunday combination to run down as we continue, in this Covid-altered year, with an unprecedented season of spring sports that includes all of the normal overlap of sports from winter and springs seasons, and adds on the fall sports now playing official spring seasons.


Yesterday was another double-header Saturday for Softball with this year's conference scheduling of four game series in three days.  This time, Virginia Tech was the visiting team at Ulmer.

VT brought in some high caliber pitching, mostly in the form of Keely Rochard, and shut out the Cards in the first game of the afternoon, 2-0.  The Cards had a chance to get on the board in this one in the 2nd inning with back-to-back hits, followed by a hit by pitch.  That loaded up the bases with Makayla Hurst on 3rd, Cassady Greenwoord on 2nd, and Charley Butler on 1st.  You've got several players there that have shown that they can get on base, and did so, and all have good base running speed, but UofL wasn't able to take advantage of it.  Rochard dealt a pair of strike-outs to end the inning with the bases still loaded and no one crossing the plate.

Credit to UofL for playing tough against a top 20 team in the first game and some credit for Taylor Roby in the circle for slowing down VT's offense, but even better things were in store.

Rochard and Roby would take a seat for the start of the 2nd game, and Gabby Holloway would be in the circle for the Cards.  VT got on the board in the 3rd inning, with some good solid offensive play, and capitalizing on a pitching error for Holloway.  The Hokies would get two across, but that would be it for the game.

The Cards, or more specifically, Makayla Hurst would answer in the 4th inning with a solo shot over the left centerfield fence.  Then, in the 6th, Taylor Roby would get on base with a single, be replaced by the considerably faster Jen Leonhardt, but that would end up not mattering when Hurst came to the plate, and again, sent the yellow orb soaring over the left field fence, allowing a casual jog around the bases for Leonhardt and Hurst.

Roby did come in for two innings of pitching and gets credit for the win.

UofL will finish their series, assuming the rains hold off, against VT today with a 1pm first pitch.

(Pictures of softball from Jared Anderson) 

Jared caught up with head coach Holly Aprile after the double header:

Field Hockey

The Cards, in New England, would take a bit of an upset from 16th ranked Boston College yesterday
.Sowry's "stick girls" , tied for 2nd in the NFHCA poll continued their gauntlet through the ACC.

This one was a low scoring affair, with the Eagles getting their only goal on the penalty stroke with under four minutes left in the game.

The Cards had a chance with a pair of penalty corners with less than 2 minutes left in the game, but couldn't convert them.

Currently 9th ranked Syracuse comes to visit Trager stadium next Sunday for a noon start.


Western Kentucky was the foe, and Bowling Green was the locale, for Soccer yesterday.

The Cards are still looking for effective offense after the departure of Emina Ekic.  WKU jumped on the scoreboard early, with just two minutes off the clock on a set piece that slipped by GK Gabby Kouzelos.  GK the GK would go on to have five saves in the game, but the Cards offense would never find an answer for that early goal, and WKU would defend their home turf with a final of 1-0.

The Cards get a couple of weeks off to think about this one, and will host Tennessee on April 10th at 2pm.


The NCAA tournament continues with some interesting games yesterday.

UConn advanced over Iowa.  The Hawkeyes kept this one fairly close for a while, but UConn did eventually stretch the lead out, winning 92-72.

Baylor got the win over Michigan, but this was an exciting one.  Baylor would get the win in overtime 78-75.

The other bracket was upset central with 4th seed Indiana surprising top seed NC State, 73-70.  They were helped a little bit by some questionable (read: "What was he thinking?!") clock and timeout management by NC State WBCA Coach of the Year Wes Moore.

Finally, Arizona got a pretty easy win in the mild upset over Texas A&M, 74-59.

UofL plays their Sweet 16 game this evening against Oregon.  The Ducks are without Sabrina Ionescu as she has moved on to join several UofL alumnae on the New York Liberty, but they still have a roster packed with great players.  6'5" Nyara Sabally leads the team in scoring, joined by 6'7" Sedona Prince patrolling the paint when she's not taking down the NCAA in her spare time.  You'll also remember Erin Boley, who at "only" 6'2" is more likely to be out around the three point line draining shots from range.  Tip-off at 7pm.

We'll have a updated Cardinal Couple NCAA Bracket Pick 'Em update in Monday's article. None of our contests went 4-4 yesterday. 

In Action Today

Juggling a busy schedule ! 

In addition to softball mentioned above, Lacrosse will be in action today.  They are also in Boston along with the Field Hockey team and will be matching up against 4th ranked Boston College with the first draw at 11am. LAX gets the ACC Network call, FH is on ACC Network Extra. 

Volleyball will be in action against NC State with a 2pm first serve.  I dropped in to the Georgia Tech vs NC State match yesterday...GT won 3-0...for a bit of scouting on NC State.  UofL should be able to win this one if we're able to apply offensive pressure.  My impression was the NC State's digging and passing will get a lot of balls up, but rarely on target.  They ran their setter all over the court yesterday, and thus rarely got a solid hit against GT.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

Finally, Case, Paulie, Jared, and myself got together for another Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast.  We sped through covering as much of the activity in UofL women's athletics as would could in an hour(ish).  We think we did most of them justice.


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Volleyball Sweeps; Softball and Lacrosse Drop Ranked Games -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Volleyball Sweeps 22nd Ranked GT

It was a busy evening for Louisville so let's start with the positive result from yesterday. Coincidentally, it was also the first event chronologically, so I suppose I'll just go in order. The Cards brought Georgia Tech to L&N Federal Credit Union Arena yesterday for a top-25 matchup and sent the Techsters back to the locker room with a 3-0 loss. I'd say they sent them home, but due to ACC pod play this spring, GT actually just had to head back to their hotel and prepare to play NC State today. 

Last night's victory also knocked GT out of first place in conference, as they moved into a tie with Notre Dame at 11-3 in conference play. The win pushed the Cards to 9-2 in conference, giving them the best winning percentage in the league. After some debate in our group chat about how the ACC would actually rank teams, I checked the standings this morning to confirm that the ACC is ranking volleyball by win percentage as most leagues are doing with most sports. Thus, Louisville now sits atop the ACC with an 0.818 conference victory percentage. They'll look to hold onto that lead as the season rolls on.

As for the match itself, Louisville established themselves early, scoring six of the first eight points. It wasn't a huge lead, but forcing the other team to play from behind from the very beginning of the match can be crucial in volleyball. GT was able to cut the lead to just one point at 7-8, but that was the only time they would be within one. Louisville began to stretch their lead as the match opened up, eventually cruising to a 25-18 victory in the first set. The Cards had 15 kills and just five errors on their way to a .260 hitting percentage in the first set. On the flip side, the Yellow Jackets were just nine and five for 0.160. 

In the second, hitting dropped significantly for both teams. In Louisville's case, they managed to stay positive in the set. In GT's case, though, a significant drop meant their number fell into the red. The two teams traded points for the first four points of the set before a couple of Louisville kills were followed by four straight GT errors to give the Cards an 8-2 lead. From there, Tech never closed the deficit to fewer than five points and Louisville easily won 25-15. As I mentioned, the hitting was down, as Louisville went eight and seven. Their counterparts, though, had a bit more trouble as they finished with just six kills and 11 errors. 

The third set saw GT hang closer for a bit longer than the other two as Louisville couldn't quite stretch a big lead and GT was able to cut it to just two points at 10-8. Once more, errors doomed the Yellow Jackets as the Cards won seven of the next nine points, aided by three attack errors and a service error, to stretch the lead to 17-10 and put the match away. The two teams traded points over the remainder of the set, and Louisville won it 25-17. Sweep complete. 

One of the things that is odd about volleyball scoring is that blocks count as errors. It makes sense from the perspective of simplifying outcomes; an attack attempt can only result in a kill, a return, or an error. However, it can give a skewed view of the stat line. Georgia Tech finished with 25 errors over the course of the match, which is a large number. That said, Louisville had 12 blocks, which is also a large number. Amaya Tillman led the way with two solo blocks and five block assists. Anna Stevenson added two solos as well, chipping in three assists. On the outside, Aiko Jones contributed with six block assists. Louisville was huge at the net, and Georgia Tech couldn't quite handle it, often hitting the ball out of bounds to avoid blocks. That is the type of volleyball we have seen Coach Dani Busboom-Kelly want to play and it is beginning to come to fruition more and more often.

Offensively, Louisville was led by Anna DeBeer who finished with 11 kills on 22 attempts. She had only four errors and added three aces compared to two service errors. As a team, Louisville was still negative on serves, with seven aces and eight errors, so that is something that still needs to be ironed out. DeBeer also did all of her offensive work while playing the full rotation, something Louisville fans have become accustomed to seeing from their top players. She led the team with nine digs.

The Cards, as mentioned previously, move into first place in the ACC as they currently sit at 11-2 (9-2). Their next match comes on Sunday against NC State. The Wolfpack stand at ninth in conference, just 7-7 in the league this year. They'll take on Georgia Tech today with a chance to surpass Duke and Florida State or a chance to fall behind Syracuse. A pretty far fall from a few seasons ago when the two teams were playing for first in the conference. Sunday's match is at 2PM and will be available on the ACC Network Extra.

Lacrosse Falls to 4/5 Boston College in OT

Louisville entered last night's match against a top-five Boston College team ranked at 15/16 in the country despite being just 4-4 overall and 0-3 in conference. We'll see what the committee thinks after this weekend where Louisville will be, at best, 5-5 and 1-4 in conference. The Cards dropped the first game of their double-header weekend against Boston College 14-13 in overtime, giving the Eagles all they wanted until the final whistle. 

It wasn't a great start for the Cards, as BC opened the game with three goals in the first two minutes. Louisville finally got off their mark just ten seconds later to make it 3-1, and kept things much tighter through the first half of the first half. Louisville cut the lead to 4-5 with 13:30 remaining in the half before Boston College went on another quick run. Staring down 8-4 with eight minutes to go in the half, Louisville buckled down. Neither team scored for another three minutes before Louisville went on a run we haven't seen against a top team in quite some time.

Hannah Morris got things started with an unassisted goal with four and a half minutes to go, her second of the game. From there, the Cards went on an 8-1 run over the next 21 minutes, spanning across the halves, to take a 12-9 lead with just seventeen and change remaining. Louisville's run included six straight goals and four straight to open the half. They had taken control and looked like they might be on their way to a huge win. 

Unfortunately, that's when BC woke back up. The Eagles scored four straight goals of their own, taking a 13-12 lead and giving the impression that they refused to lose this game. Louisville was on their heels, on the road, and on the ropes against a top-five team. But they responded. Allegra Catalano scored an unassisted goal with 4:22 remaining to tie the game and set up a very tense closing four minutes. Neither team was able to find the goal and they headed to a golden goal overtime. 

Despite Louisville's best efforts, they were unable to close this one out in the end. The play-by-play for the overtime period shows just two events: session start and BC goal. The first shot of the period found the back of the net for Boston College's Charlotte North, her 25th goal of the season. To that point, Louisville had done a great job defending North, as she had been unable to score and had just three shot attempts for the remainder of the game. The one shot on goal was all it took, though, as that goal meant the final whistle.

Though this one ended in a tough loss, it was a very strong showing from Louisville. They showed resiliency in the face of mounting pressure as the lead grew, and they showed their own ability to go on a big run. These lessons will serve Louisville well for the remainder of the season, and they'll get their first opportunity to showcase them in a rematch with the Eagles. Louisville and BC have the first draw tomorrow at 11AM on the ACC Network Extra. 

Softball Drops Game 1 to Virginia Tech

Has anyone seen Louisville's offense? It's been missing for about two weeks now. Louisville hasn't scored more than two runs since their 3-0 victory over WKU on March 13th. They've only achieved the two run mark once in those five games, and, counting last night, have been shutout twice. Oh, and they're 0-5 in that time. To Louisville's credit, they've generally held opposing teams to low offensive outputs as well, but timely hitting has been the issue. The Cards' opponents have it, and the Cards don't. 

Louisville started last night by going toe-to-toe with VT for the first four innings. The Hokies threatened in the third, getting two runners into scoring position with one out, but Taylor Roby induced a lineout and struck out the next batter to escape the jam. Roby was pulled from the circle to start the fourth, but Jen Leonhardt took command of the ball with a purpose, setting the Hokie batters down in order.

After Louisville once again stranded a runner on base in the bottom half of the fourth, things unraveled defensively. What was that I said about timely hitting? Virginia Tech used a throwing error on a fielder's choice along with three hits to score three runs. Fortunately, a groundout left two runners on base. Virginia Tech only had four hits for the entire game, just one more than Louisville, but three in this inning were the difference. Louisville didn't have any innings with more than one hit, nor did they have any hits with a runner on base. 

The Cards were unable to threaten offensively in their remaining three innings at the plate and fell in this one 3-0. We've seen Louisville succeed this season at the plate. Despite many of their best offensive games coming against lower-tier competition, that doesn't completely explain their inability to hit against the pitchers they have seen so far in ACC play. Whether it is a change in approach at the plate that needs to be instilled from the coaches or just more time in the cage, something has to click for the hitters themselves. Coach Holly Aprile has shuffled the lineup more than once to encourage some type of hitting renaissance, but has seen no success so far. 

Whatever the problem is, it's relatively new. Prior to this stretch, in games not against SEC opponents, Louisville failed to score at least three runs just once: the 4-0 loss to Miami (OH), after which Coach Aprile appeared that she might lose her entire mind. The Cards have the offensive pieces to get things going once more, they just need to figure out what it is that needs to change to get there. That effort begins today as they host a double header against Virginia Tech, with first pitch in the first game scheduled for Noon on the ACC Network Extra.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

We're back for a busy week in the booth as we have plenty of spring sports to talk about, in addition to the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Louisville advanced to the Sweet 16 (if you didn't know that then welcome to your first Cardinal Couple article), and currently sit as a higher seeded underdog in their matchup against Oregon. We'll breakdown everything that happened over the last week and look ahead to the games to come. Tune in to the show on the Cardinal Couple YouTube channel at 11AM to hear us live, or check out the rebroadcast or the podcast following today's recording. 

Until next time, Go Cards!

Additional photos from Jared Anderson at lacrosse and softball below.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Softball plays #19/16 VaTech this weekend; FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Fridays with DARYL

Good morning Louisville fans!  Basketball season is not over!  The joy and excitement of Louisville women's basketball is still alive.  And it is not for the faint of heart. I think my fitbit recorded a heart rate of 93 for me sometime in the third quarter against the Wildcats.  I just have to say how proud I am of the overall team effort by the Louisville squad in this week's matchups.  I mean.. there's winning a game.. and then there's winning the game.  The freshman really stepped it up and I also wanted to give the coaching staff a shoutout for their huge vocal support from the sidelines when it was needed most! Sam Purcell leading the charge.  You could tell that this team was not ready to come home.

Coach Walz and Dana Evans are scheduled to talk with the media this afternoon from San Antonio. 

Here are their pressers: 

Cards Wrap Up March Home Stand Against #19/16 Virginia Tech This Weekend

Its been a quick month as we welcomed back Louisville softball to Ulmer Stadium.  

UofL will wrap up its 15-game home stand this weekend when the Cards play host to No. 19/16 VT in a four-game series.  The teams will open the series on Friday evening at 7 p.m. for '90's Night' followed by a Saturday doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. The finale will take place Sunday at 1 p.m.

• UofL is 3-6 in ACC play and stands eighth in the conference while Virginia Tech (16-4, 10-4 ACC) is third in the ACC standings.
• Taylor Roby leads the team with a .40 batting average, five home runs and has driven in 21. She stands tied for second in the ACC in RBI.   Roby has also produced a team-best six multi-RBI games.
• Roby (5-5) leads the team with a 2.67 ERA in 60.1 innings of work.
• Carmyn Greenwood leads the team with 12 runs and five stolen bases, has a team-best eight multi-hit games this season and stands second with a .387 batting average.

Virginia Tech comes into this weekend with a 15-4 overall record (10-4 ACC).  Virginia Tech leads the series 8-7.  The last matchup between the two teams took place March.29-31, 2019 in Blacksburg, Va. The Cards took the first game of the three-game series 7-5, but fell short in the final two games, 10-1 and 13-5.

• Preseason All-ACC selection Jayme Bailey is batting .414 this season. Bailey is tied for second in the ACC in RBIs and has registered three home runs, two triples, and six doubles for the Hokies.
• Kelsey Bennett leads the Hokies and is tied for first in the ACC in home runs with seven. The sophomore is batting .346 and slugging .846 on the season.
• Leading Virginia Tech in the circle is junior Keely Rochard. The Virginia native enters the weekend as the current ACC Pitcher of the Week after her 3-0 weekend (3/19-3/21), dealing out 46 strikeouts and giving up just three hits and three walks over 18 innings. Rochard (12-1) is second in the ACC with an ERA of 0.88 and has dealt 119 strikeouts so far.

Lacrosse sees third consecutive Top-5 ranked opponent

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - No. 15 University of Louisville women's lacrosse travels to Chestnut Hill, Mass., for a pair of ACC contests against No. 5 Boston College this weekend. The Cardinals and Eagles open their two-game series on Friday, March 26 at 7 p.m. ET at Alumni Stadium before closing the weekend on Sunday, March 28 at 11 a.m. ET.

Friday's game will broadcast on ACC Network Extra and Sunday's will broadcast on ACC Network. The Cardinals are 4-4 overall and 0-3 in conference play. The Eagles enter Friday's game at 5-1 on the season and 1-1 in the league.

CC Podcast 

I'll be in the network building for another week of softball production but might be able to jump on for some time to talk post season basketball and softball!    The rest of the gang are as scheduled as far as I know.  Be safe and wear your sunscreen CardNation! 


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Basketball Survives and Advances -- Tennis Ranked -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Louisville Survives Scare Against Northwestern

Everyone good? Anyone need any oxygen after last night? Louisville women's basketball hung on to fight another day as they beat Northwestern 62-53.

It felt like a Space Jam script with the Cards seeming to have all the basketball talent sucked out of them early on and Northwestern appearing to be unstoppable. It wasn't until the fourth quarter for Louisville to earn their first lead of the game.

Northwestern knocked down a three-pointer in the first minute of the game and would not look back the rest of the quarter. Jordan Hamilton put up the first seven points of the game before the Cards got on the scoreboard nearly three minutes into the game. The Wildcats would continue to go off on offense and built their lead to 18, at 25-7, before Dana Evans got Louisville to double-digits before the end of the quarter. Northwestern was a perfect 4-4 from three-point range and the Wildcats only averaged four made threes per game all season- and they added six blocks according to the box score. The sports world put an Upset Alert on this game.

It was Louisville's defense that stepped up in the second quarter. The Cards only managed 10 points on offense for the second straight quarter, but surrendered just seven points. Olivia Cochran made a layup halfway through the quarter to cut the deficit to single digits, but a couple quick Northwestern baskets opened the game back up. The missed layup bug seemed to infect the Cards as they couldn't seem to hit from anywhere on the field. Louisville trailed 32-20 at the break.

Oh, what it would be like to have been a fly on the wall in the locker room at halftime.

 Jeff Walz certainly woke his team up as they came out and won the third quarter 20-8 to tie the score at 40-40. Eight of the Cards' first 11 points came from the charity stripe, but when made baskets are slim you take every point you can get -- no matter where it comes from.  The Wildcats held a 12-point lead at the 5:13 mark in the quarter before the Cards closed out the quarter on a 12-0 run.

Louisville opened the final quarter on a layup by Kianna Smith. It was followed by a lay up with an and one by Hailey Van Lith and the Cards extended their run to 17-0. Louisville fans were finally able to take a quick moment to breathe. 

Northwestern wouldn't go away. Every time the Cards built their lead to multiple possessions the Wildcats would find a way to cut it back down. Then, we saw a 95-second period where neither team could score. The Cards made six straight free throws to push their lead up to nine with 35 seconds remaining in the game. Well, you know the rest of the story from there.

Cards win 62-53. They advance to play Oregon Sunday at 7 p.m. 

Louisville improves to 3-0 all-time against Northwestern. Their last victory came just 2.5 months after I was born back in 1994. Feel old yet?

Kianna Smith led the Cards with 16 points. She added six rebounds and a pair of assists. Olivia Cochran was a crucial part of the game with 13 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double. Seven of her points came from the free throw line. Hailey Van Lith was perfect when shooting the ball. Her 13 points came off 2-2 from threes, 4-4 overall from the floor, and 3-3 from the free throw line. She struggled early with most of her four turnovers coming in the first half but quickly recovered.

 Dana Evans posted 14 points on 5-17 shooting. She went 2-10 from three-point range. The nearly-automatic free throw maker posted a subpar 2-4 from the line. Evans also struggled with foul trouble and ended up with four.

Northwestern's Lindsey Pulliam struggled. The 2000-point club member recorded four points on 1-11 shooting. Credit that to the lockdown defense Kasa Robinson played on her.  Jordan Hamilton stepped up to the plate in her place, going off for 17 points including 3-9 from three-point range. Hamilton was one of three Wildcats with double-digit scoring. Louisville did not allow a Northwestern player to record more than seven rebounds.

The win sends Louisville to the Sweet Sixteen for the 10th time in program history, all in the Walz era. The Cards are now 10-2 in the NCAA Tournament in the second round under Jeff Walz.

F-R-E-D Report

(Like a lot of you, Fred G. nearly had 
"the Big One" after that first quarter)

Free Throws- It was free throws who helped Louisville climb back into this game and free throws that helped them close out the final couple minutes. The Cards went 18-22 (81.8%) from the charity stripe. Northwestern went 7-13 themselves. No doubt, capital "F".

Rebounding- This was a pleasant surprise from the game against Marist. The Cards outrebounded the Wildcats 43-34. They also limited Northwestern to 11 offensive boards to limit their second chance points. Shout out to Olivia Cochran recorded 15 boards (five offensive, 10 defensive) to lead the Cards. Capital "R".

Effort/Execution- This category is a bit tricky. Louisville dug themselves an ugly hole in the first half. Fans were frustrated and nervous. A majority of Louisville's 16 turnovers came in the first half. 16 is always way too many. Louisville shot 19-53 from the field and 6-19 from downtown. BUT, Louisville's effort is what allowed them to come back. Lowercase "e".

Defense- If you take out the first quarter the Cards gave up 28 points. Almost half of Northwestern's point total came in the first quarter. You also can't do much when a team is a perfect 4-4 from three in the quarter. Had the Louisville defense not halted Northwestern in their tracks after the first quarter things could have gotten really ugly, but we cannot give a perfect score because of that quarter as well as the high number of open layups the Cards gave up. Lowercase "d".

Final FRED Report: F-R-e-d. That's not a bad score, but it needs to get better. Oregon won't be as offensively inadequate as Northwestern. It's the Sweet Sixteen and every team from this point forward is great. No more off games.

Up next for the Cards is that #6-seed Oregon. Kelly Graves' Ducks started the tournament by taking down 11-seed South Dakota and then "upset" 3-seed Georgia yesterday. They're now-15-8 but that  record is deceiving. Their eight losses came against Stanford, UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon State, each twice. All four of those teams made the tournament and two are still alive (Stanford and Arizona(. 

Tennis Climbs Into Rankings

Louisville women's tennis has moved into the national rankings. The Cards are ranked #45 in the latest poll.

Andrea Di Palma snuck into the rankings as an individual. The sophomore from Argentina is ranked #87 and boasts a 5-1 record when playing at the Bass Rudd Center.

The doubles team of Raven Neely and Tatiana Simova also found themselves ranked. The duo is ranked #45 with a 9-4 record. Most recently, the upset Miami's top doubles squad who was ranked #2 at the time.

The Cards have lost five straight, all in conference play, but look to bounce back on Friday at noon against Xavier.

The Cardinal Couple NCAA WBB Pick Em

Here's a look at last night's results:

--  Louisville defeated Northwestern 62-53 (Everybody breath now...) 

-- Maryland defeated Alabama 100-64 (Definitely not Sweet Home Alabama...) 

-- Oregon defeated Georgia 57-50 (Ducks dodge another bullet) 

-- Missouri State defeated Wright State 64-39  (only four of our contestants had them) 

-- Indiana defeated Belmont 70-48 (Local favorite Grace Berger fights on!) 

-- Arizona defeated BYU 52-46 (Cactus Power !) 

-- Texas A&M defeated Iowa State 84-82 (OT)  (Jordan Nixon is my hero) 

-- Texas defeated UCLA 71-62 (Bye bye Bruins, the Horns stuck ya) 

Louisville wasn't the only team needing to rally to win. Arizona used a strong second half to defeat BYU. Texas A&M had to rally from a large deficit to take Iowa State into overtime and win on a buzzer beater.

Some of the games that made impacts on several brackets included Texas over UCLA and Oregon over Georgia.

The updated standings are listed below:

42-6: Paulie

39-9: Kenny Schneider, Callie Blue

38-10: David Watson, Jason Wyrick

37-11: Worldwide Jeff McAdams

35-13: Arthur, Sonya Sykes, Jared Anderson (Bracket Czar)

34-14: Nole Knowledge, Clemson Cuz

33-15: Blue Lou, Case Hoskins, Kenneth Stark Sr, Vivian McAdams

32-16: Bea

30-18: Nick O, Curtis Franklin

27-21: Joe Hill

23-25: CC Chimps

There are 15 games remaining in the tournament. The Chimps and Joe Hill have both been eliminated from any first place potential. Based off teams that were picked for future rounds Nick O, Curtis Franklin, and Bea have also been eliminated from first place. There's probably a few more that cannot win first place, but I'll need to do a little more digging to get that info.

Even if your bracket isn't doing so hot you can still hope to have a strong finish to get that record up. We have several friends here whose loyalty may lie with other teams whose seasons have finished such as Kentucky, Florida State, and Clemson, so we hope you will cheer on the Cards the rest of the way with us. We do have a few Georgia Tech fans that pop in on occasion so congrats on your team advancing to the Sweet Sixteen! Hopefully we'll meet in the Final Four.

There are three ACC teams remaining in the Sweet Sixteen. The Big Ten has four teams remaining. The Pac-12 has three teams left. The Big 12 has two teams left. The SEC has two teams left. The Big East and Missouri Valley each have one team left.

Happy Thursday and Go Cards!