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Thursday, March 31, 2022

Softball Falls in Extras -- Lax at Cardinal Stadium -- Final Four -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Softball Falls in Extra Innings

Last night was not kind for Louisville softball, who fell to Liberty in eight innings, 9-7. Early game and late game hitting helped the Flames push past the Cards, who dropped to 18-13 on the year.

It was Liberty to put a run on the board first, piecing together a couple hits and a Louisville error for a run in the first inning. The Cards answered with a three-piece immediately after. Four walks were the key component of the inning to go along with a single by Taylor Roby.

Four hits and a fielding error allowed Liberty to jump back ahead, posting four runs in the second inning. Louisville would go on to even the score later that inning. Carmyn Greenwood led off with a triple. The wind almost gave her enough edge for an inside-the-park home run... almost. An Ally Alexander walk followed by a Roby single would drive Greenwood home and Alexander would capitalize on a throwing error in the same play to race home. 

Liberty would go on and add a run in each of the third and sixth innings to pull by ahead by two. Louisville found an answer with a two-run rally in the sixth inning. Alexander reached base on a hit by pitch and Roby followed with a homer out by the scoreboard.

Not following the traditional runner on second in extra innings, both teams would open up the eighth inning with the bases clean. Runner or not, Liberty rallied with a home run for a two-run lead. Louisville would get a pair of runners on base with the game-winning run at the plate multiple times, but could not bring any runners home.

Roby was in the circle for the entire game and dropped her record to 8-5. She allowed 12 hits and nine runs, only five earned.

On the offensive end, Roby led the way with four of the Cards' nine hits. Alexander reached base three times through a hit, a walk, and a hit by pitch. The freshman has reached base safely in 14 straight games.

The Cards travel to NC State this weekend for a three-game series before returning home to host Kentucky next Wednesday.

Lacrosse Hosts Ohio State for Match at Cardinal Stadium

Two evening matches at Cardinal Stadium last season were popular enough to warrant more matches there this season. The first of two matches at Cardinal Stadium this season will be tonight when the Cards host Ohio State at 7:00 p.m.

Admission is still free for fans, and Gate 2 will be open for fans to enter, per GoCards. Gate 2 faces Floyd Street.

The Cards hope to break a three-game losing streak and get back to .500 on the year with a win against the 7-4 Buckeyes.

Scoring by committee has been the theme this year for Louisville, with four players having scored 20 or more goals this season. Hannah Morris is the frontrunner with 32 goals and Nicole Perroni is hot on her tail with 29.

Goalkeeping remains to be one of the biggest questions this season. J Pleck and Sara Addeche have split time in goal nearly 50-50 and have a combined .353 save percentage and 79 saves.

The weather appears to be more promising this evening than last night, but you'll still want to bundle up with the temperature hovering around the low-50s and high-40s.

Final Four is Nearly Here

The Final Four is nearly here! 1-seed Louisville will go up against the top overall 1-seed South Carolina on Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET. 1-seed Stanford and 2-seed UConn will then tip off around 9:30 p.m.

South Carolina is 33-2 on the year. They received an at-large bid after falling to Kentucky by two points in the SEC final. Their only other loss was a one-point loss at Missouri to close out 2021. Their NCAA Tournament path for the Gamecocks has featured wins over 16-seed Howard, 8-seed Miami, 5-seed North Carolina, and 10-seed Creighton.

Stanford boasts a 32-3 record. They were an automatic qualifier after winning the Pac-12. Their three losses came against Texas, South Florida, and Stanford, all NCAA Tournament teams. Their road in the tournament features wins over 16-seed Montana State, 8-seed Kansas, 4-seed Maryland, and 2-seed Texas.

UConn had a "down year" with a 29-5 record. They earned an automatic qualifier bid after winning the Big East Tournament. The Huskies lost to South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Oregon, and Villanova, all NCAA Tournament teams. As a 2-seed, UConn is the only remaining team to pull off an upset by seed. Their path includes wins against 15-seed Mercer, 7-seed UCF, 3-seed Indiana, and 1-seed NC State.

Louisville is the team we are all familiar with. At 29-4, the Cards earned an at-large bid after falling to Miami in the ACC Quarterfinals. Their other three losses came to Arizona, NC State, and North Carolina, all NCAA Tournament teams. Louisville's NCAA Tournament wins have come against 16-seed UAlbany, 9-seed Gonzaga, 4-seed Tennessee, and 3-seed Michigan.

Hopefully, we will see the Cards get the win on Friday and that it won't be an April Fool's joke. Speaking of April 1, today marks the completion of the first quarter of 2022.

Happy Thursday and Go Cards!


Wednesday, March 30, 2022



Like many Cardinal fans, I'm still aglow after the win last night over Michigan to reach the Final Four.

As much as I wanted to be in Wichita for that game, some health issues have me hanging close to the ol' homestead. From what I hear, about 5,000 fans attended The post-game recap and coverage of the celebration that Cards Radio 790 AM covered was well covered by Nick Curran. I like to spend time listening to him and AJ call away broadcasts, it takes me back to the days when I was a kid and listening to Cincinnati Reds broadcasts on my transistor radio. Nick and AJ are another treasure that Louisville fans should not take for granted.

Enjoy the moment is what I can offer to you. Friday will be a new struggle and the further you go, the tougher the foe, when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. If you're headed to Minneapolis, be safe, have fun and bring back a National Championship with you

Walz post game media: Full Postgame Press Conference


JEFF WALZ: Just thrilled to still be playing. What a great ballgame we had last night against a really good Michigan team. Our kids really figured out a way to pull it out there in the fourth quarter. Defensively we were outstanding the last five minutes holding them scoreless, and then we showed some composure at the offensive end and scored the basketball when we needed, made some big plays.

Just thrilled for the kids. It's one of these things I say all the time as a coach, we get the opportunity to come back for another season. But the players, their seasons are counted.

For Emily Engstler and Chelsie Hall and Kianna Smith, this is their senior year, and for them to be able to get the opportunity to experience what a Final Four is like, you just can't put it into words. But we're looking forward to enjoying the day today to get some rest, flying up there tonight, and then get back to work tomorrow to get prepared for a very, very good South Carolina team.

Q. Question about two players: First one about Emily Engstler. Having seen her for several years at Syracuse, you kind of knew about what she does scoring and rebounding, but did you kind of foresee her kind of bringing an edge, maybe a fierceness to this team that seems to have rubbed off?

JEFF WALZ: Well, she always played with an edge even at Syracuse. Putting her in positions defensively how we play, we're more of a man-to-man, we like to move and trap at different areas of the floor, have really taken her strengths and shown them off.

She's so good at anticipating, reading the next pass, on the ball, help side. It's really been fun to watch, and she's been able to play, I think, a little bit more free at times at the defensive end, which has really been able to showcase her talents.

Q. With Hailey, I guess it was a little bit of a process for her to establish herself as a leading scorer. I guess it was expected of her but it took a while for her to step out. What was that like that you recall for her?

JEFF WALZ: Hailey is Hailey. She's been playing well all year. Everybody was concerned at the beginning of the year, she's not scoring. She was just missing shots. She was making shots in practice, was taking good shots in the games. They just weren't going in.

As I've said the whole season, it was never a concern for me because I watched her in practice. I watched them go in. It's when players aren't making them in practice and then that carries over to games when you start to get real concerned.

That was never the issue for her. As the season has progressed, we went a stretch where I think we had four games and had three or four different leading scorers. Hailey is playing some great basketball right now. She's been pretty efficient in a lot of our games. She handles the physicality well. She's able to get to the rim. She had a huge and-one for us in last night's game.

The kid is a baller. It is what it is. I consider her one of the best players in the country.

Q. I wanted to talk a little more about Hailey. When you talked back in December about not being worried, I presume you had a run similar to this in mind where she's 20 plus every game in the tournament. But two parts to that. One is what is it about her game that lends itself so well to the tournament play for her to be able to play this well right now? And to your point about the last question about finishing through contact, how is she able to do that as well as she does at her size?

JEFF WALZ: Well, I'll start with the last question there. Because she's strong. She's really worked hard in the weight room, conditioning. She's able to absorb contact. It doesn't knock her off balance. Then she can finish with her right or left hand.

That's one of the things when you get to this level of playing against other great players, you can't be just one-handed. You've got to be able to use both, and she does that. She's able to shoot a little bit of a fadeaway at times when she needs to to get a shot up over the defender.

But the bottom line is she's trained so hard ever since she was in high school. When she got here as a freshman, her freshman summer, she's one of the few freshmen we've had that's ever passed our conditioning test the first time she did it, and that's because of the training that she did before she got here. That's in the weight room, the cardio.

Because of that, she wasn't a year behind in the physical training. She's just continuing to get stronger, and that's why she's able to finish with contact even at her size.

Scoring the basketball, it's what the kid does. I mean, I watched her play several years in the summer. I flew out and watched her as many times as I was allowed her junior year during the recruiting process. Scoring the basketball has never been a problem for her.

Because of the amount of work she puts in, it doesn't guarantee you success. I say this to all of our players. All because you work hard, it doesn't guarantee you success. If we all studied for three hours for an exam, we're all not going to get the same grade. But the one thing I can tell you is it's going to give you a lot better opportunity to succeed than those that don't.

It's refreshing and encouraging to see someone who puts the time in to be able to have the success that she's having right now.

Q. When people go to the movies, a lot of times it's because of the star, and then the performance once they get there, it gets them going back and back again. This Final Four has so many stars, whether it's Hailey or Paige or Aliyah, Cameron, everybody. Can you talk about the development in women's basketball of these stars? Then as a second part, how much has corporate sponsorship and NIL helped bring these people to the public and grown the game because you now do have these recognizable stars?

JEFF WALZ: Well, I'll start with the second. I'm not sure the NIL and the corporate sponsors have really gotten to that point yet to where they're bringing the stars out. I think a lot of these kids that you're mentioning right now have a remarkable social media following, and that's where they're getting so much more of their traction out in the public, in the media, is through social media.

I think it's going to eventually get there. I know here in Louisville where we have a huge following for women's basketball, NIL is a big deal. It's going to be an even bigger deal as we move forward, as it evolves.

I think a lot of these players have been able to do it by the work that they do on the court and the way they perform.

Then just talking about all of them, we're getting -- our game is growing. So it's just not one school where everybody goes, one program where everybody goes.

Now players are branching out. Other universities like ourselves are investing in women's basketball. I think as that continues throughout the country, you're going to see more and more programs evolve and continue to get better. That's really what it's all about.

The parity in this year's NCAA Tournament, I know we've got three of the four 1 seeds are playing in the Final Four, but up to that point, how many great games have we had? How many upsets have we had? That's what's making our game that much better and that much more exciting.

Q. I want to ask you about one of your longtime fans who spoke to your team, I think, on Saturday, Mrs. Green, who has been there forever. She had that near-death experience. What was the message to the team, and what do they take from fans like her who have supported this group pretty much throughout their entire lives?

JEFF WALZ: Well, we've got a wonderful group of really, really supportive fans. Ms. Green is one that she actually came and spoke to our team during the regular season. She was supposed to come before the game to talk to them, but unfortunately she got there a little bit late, and then the next thing I know after I meet with my staff at halftime, she's in there talking to them at halftime.

I think she thinks she's on staff. She does a great job. Our kids love her.

Just the passion that she has for life, not just for our team but for life, and her experiences that she's been able to share with our players, as well as many of our fans, it means a lot to them. It's pretty special here when you see fans that have been following this program for 20, 25 years and the excitement that they get, the tears that you see in their eyes after last night's game when we get back to the hotel.

I've always said it. If you want to grow a fan base at the university you work at, your fans have to know they're a part of it. They have to know when you win, they win. And when you lose, they lose. They feel it, too.

That's one thing we've taken a lot of pride in here is to continue to just embrace all of our fans and make sure they know we're where we are because of them.

Q. You guys have been one of the top teams in the country all year but seem to have been flying under the radar a little bit even if you're a 1 seed. Everyone is talking about the other ones but not you guys as much. Is that something you embrace or are you like, hey, we've been pretty good all year, why aren't people saying we have a chance to win this as much as some of the other teams? The second is the transfer portal. You got Emily this year, and just what it means to have all these transfers coming in. Is this sort of a free agency like baseball that that's the way to build teams now is through transfers more than just trying to find kids in high school, or are they just a supplement to kids you recruit out of high school?

JEFF WALZ: Well, you know, the first one is, yeah, we've been pretty good all year. There's no question about that. I mean, it's not this year. You go back five years, I think we've won the third-most games of any women's basketball team in the country. If you go back 10, I think we're in the top five or top six. It's just a narrative. It's whatever you want it to be.

That's one of the things that we'll continue to grow with our game, I think, is our media, that they actually get out and look at the teams and look at the players instead of starting off the year with, hey, here's who we're going to run with, and they go with it.

Those are the things I think we do miss out on. If people haven't taken the opportunity to just watch what Emily Engstler and Hailey Van Lith have done and Kianna Smith for our team, you can only do so much. I can promote them, but it's a matter of when is our national media going to start to look at them all. But you and I both know it all comes down to hits. It all comes down to whatever you want to put on your site, how many hits is it going to get.

That's part of it, but our kids don't mind. We have a wonderful fan base here that absolutely adores them and loves them. And we're still playing. It's our fourth Final Four in 15 years. I think we've been to 70 Elite 8s. We aren't too bad.

It's going to be fun, and that's what it's all about. But at the end of the day you have to roll the ball out and play.

Extra motivation -- if that's what's going to motivate you, then we've got bigger problems, because just the opportunity to compete -- again, there's only four teams left playing -- is what should motivate you. I know that's really what motivates our players.

The transfer portal, we were very fortunate with Emily, and having played against her for three years, I knew what she could do. You get to know kids. We played them twice a year, so you get to know their personalities, you kind of get to know who they are. And then Chelsie Hall obviously as a grad transfer and a portal kid from Vanderbilt has been huge for us. She had an unbelievable first half last night.

It's part of what's going to take place from here on out. You're definitely looking to recruit high school players. That's our first place that we look at. Now you can look and say, hey, what voids do I have; what can I fill in; what areas can I look to increase or get stronger in?

I think that's what's going to happen.

Now, I do think you have to be real careful because you've got to make sure you're getting kids that are going to fit into your program, fit into your culture, and make sure they understand what you're trying to do. It's not all about them, and I think that's what's one of the things that we have here is we have kids that want to win, and it goes a long way.

I've said it before, when Emily went into the portal last year and we were going to call, the first person I talked to was Mykasa on my team. Mykasa Robinson was going to be the player who was impacted the most if Emily decided to come here because her playing time was going to be impacted.

The first thing that she tells me is, Coach, I'm tired of guarding her. If we can get her on our team, let's get her. Because these kids like to win.

I think it just speaks volumes for the character of the players that we have here, and their end game is to compete and compete for a National Championship.

Q. You mentioned how good you've been over the last 10 years, and it seems to me that this is probably four of the six best programs in the country. Used to be Stanford and UConn, but I'm wondering if now you feel -- it's interesting you've got two old ones and two new ones, South Carolina and you guys. Do you feel like you're there? Do you feel like you've built something that is a blueblood? And Dawn, as well.

JEFF WALZ: Yeah, I sure do. Our thing is we have to win that last game. That's what it all comes down to. I think for people to really think we're there, we have to win the National Championship.

The unfortunate thing for us was in '09 and '13, the two years that we got to The Finals, probably you could put those two UConn teams in probably the top 5 best women's basketball teams ever. Not just at UConn, I'm talking ever.

So part of it comes to when you get to the Finals, where are you playing, who are you, and for us it was just two bad years.

Then in '18 it was just an unbelievable Final Four in Columbus. It still hurts. It still stings. It's a Final Four you look at and you've got to get some breaks, you've got to get lucky here or there with a call, with a bounced ball that goes out of bounds and it comes back to you, things like that. But yeah, we've played in the last four Elite 8s, we've gone to two Final Fours. Yeah, I think we are. There's no question. I think South Carolina is, also.

Q. I wanted to ask you about how you developed your press. It's one of the more effective ones I've seen, and I wanted to know how you fine tune it to get it tournament ready?

JEFF WALZ: Well, again, I was very fortunate to work for six years with Paul Sanderford who was at Western Kentucky and then Nebraska, and now Paul is going into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, which is special for me because Paul is going to be recognized with the rest of the inductees I believe at the semifinal game. He's who gave me my start in this profession.

To be able to be playing in the Final Four the year that Paul is going into the Hall of Fame means the world to me. It's something that just really, really -- it touches my heart to know that we're going to get to share that moment.

He's who I learned the press from. It's something we haven't run the entire year, and to be honest with you, we haven't worked hours on it. You have to have players that have some instincts, that are willing to gamble at times. You can't press and be passive. Then you've got to have players that are willing to go hard, because it takes a lot out of you.

We've got that group right now. Our match-ups through the first four games were match-ups where we needed to press. We didn't want teams to just be able to get in their offense and do what they wanted, so we had to try to disrupt it as much as we could.

Q. I wonder on top of all the incredible players that you have on this team what it's going to mean to have Angel across the street with USA Basketball this week and through the weekend, and what it shows about this program that there's -- you talked a little bit about the recent history of success that this program has had, but there's really a lineage now of big-time players at this program.

JEFF WALZ: Yeah, you know what, I'm glad -- this is the one thing that I'm excited that I'm not able to be a court coach with the national team this week. It was something I was really looking forward to doing because I love when I get the opportunity to work with those great players and USA Basketball. It's something that means a lot to me. It's really special when you're representing your country.

To have Angel being a part of that and then hopefully we'll get a chance to see her and she'll stop by the hotel, it's great. She's the one that really took us to our first Final Four and put us on the map, and now we've got a bunch of them. Asia Durr, Dana Evans, Myisha, Shoni Schimmel. We've had a list of players now that have gone on, they've had great, great careers, and a lot are still playing.

But Angel obviously being a two-time Olympic gold medalist is at the top of our chart when it comes to success in the NCAA Tournament, and then with USA Basketball, as well.

Q. I saw at the end last night you kind of went out of your way to give a shout-out to Steph Norman and what she's meant to your coaching staff having been here the entirety of your time at Louisville. I was wondering if you could speak to her role in building this program.

JEFF WALZ: Yeah, Steph, it's been 15 years. She's everything to our program. She's a dear friend of mine. She recruits, she builds relationships, she's great X's and O's. Our Michigan game was her scout. She did a remarkable job of getting our kids prepared and presenting it to them on Sunday.

Yeah, she understands it. She knows how to coach. She knows how to recruit. She can build relationships. She's very, very good at her job. She's a great person.

At the end of the day, you have to be a good person if you want to have success in this profession, and Steph is as good as they come. And I'm just thrilled and honored that she has stayed here for these 15 years, and hopefully if something comes along and it's a head coaching job that she wants, hopefully we can get that for her. If not, hopefully we'll both be able to finish here and go out and enjoy life after basketball someday.

Q. Last night on the podium and the news conference, you had a couple of your players break down talking about the impact that you've had on them and their lives. What did that mean for you to hear that?

JEFF WALZ: Well, it's special. It's something you take a lot of pride in as a coach is building relationships with your players. It's not just on the basketball court but it's off the court. I say it all the time, we're just not trying to get these young women prepared to win basketball games, we're trying to prepare them for life, because life is tough. We all know it. Life is tough. You've got to make sure that we're doing our best to -- when they get out there, that along obviously with their parents who have done a remarkable job, that we've just done our little bit so they can be ready for everything that's thrown at them.

It meant a lot to me. It's why we do this job. It really is. That moment on that podium -- the win was great, the celebration was great. But that moment on that podium when those ladies said what they said, that was -- that superceded us winning that game last night. That's how much that meant to me.

Q. You've had coaching experience at Minnesota, which is a powerhouse in women's basketball, specifically with Lindsay Whalen who's a native of Minnesota. What does it mean to be able to come to this hotbed of women's sports this weekend and play in the Final Four considering she is a trailblazer in women's sports?

JEFF WALZ: Oh, yeah, it's exciting to be coming back. I talked with my wife and my kids, and I can show them my house I bought in Minnesota. I've actually -- I bought the house in a cul-de-sac. I still stay in touch with a few of the neighbors. They've emailed me. They're planning to come to the game.

Yeah, that one season that we had up there at Minnesota was one of the most remarkable years that I've been a part of in women's basketball. We went from playing in The Barn, and there was a pipe that busted, it froze over, then we had to move. We started in the Pav, my bad, that's when the pipe busted, then we went to The Barn and all of a sudden we're selling the place out with Lindsey Whalen, Janel McCarville and just a great group of players. And it was an awesome experience and I'm looking forward to getting back up there.

Q. Kianna Smith was on that 2018 Final Four team. How much of an asset will she be in terms of explaining the intensity and seriousness of the Final Four to your younger players who have not experienced a Final Four?

JEFF WALZ: Well, actually she was not, so this is a whole new group. Kianna actually transferred in the year after. We are all new at this, but we're excited about that as a staff. Talk about Steph Norman and my staff, we've been to four Final Fours with four completely different teams. We take a lot of pride in the fact that we've been able to build teams throughout the years that have been able to get to a Final Four.

Q. What have the student-athletes said? How have they kind of absorbed all of this, because it's about to be a wild weekend up in cold, cold Minneapolis.

JEFF WALZ: Well, we haven't even talked about it yet really. We had a great time last night. We jumped on a flight, we landed back here in Louisville at about 4:30 in the morning and I had to take my daughter to the airport for her 9:30 flight back to Charleston, South Carolina, and I'm sitting in the office now and I hope they're all still sleeping.

Q. I'm sure you've watched no tape of South Carolina in the two hours of free time that maybe you've had, but just your initial thoughts on them and Dawn and what you know about them and what you expect?

JEFF WALZ: Well, I mean, they're a great basketball team. Dawn does a fantastic job. I was fortunate enough to be an assistant for her with USA Basketball. She does a great job. She motivates her players. They play hard.

Aliyah Boston obviously is one of the best players in the country if not the best. We're going to have our hands full. We'll have an opportunity tonight to really start to watch some film and watch some games.

We're going to have to play our best, there's no doubt. At this time of the year there's no doubt, you've got to play your best or you're not going to win. We're looking forward to the opportunity because you can't win if you don't play the game. We're fortunate enough to still be playing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022


Final Four Baby!!!

LOUISVILLE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL IS BACK IN THE FINAL FOUR! Louisville was in a tight battle all game against Michigan before pulling away in the final five minutes to win 62-50. For the fourth time in school history, the Cards are headed to the Final Four. a game ending 10-0 run sealed the deal for the Cards

Hailey Van Lith dropped 22 points and Emily Engstler hauled in 16 points to lead the way. The Cards limited their turnovers to 12 while forcing Michigan to 22 turnovers.

Chelsie Hall tied her season high with 15 points, most of them in the first half. Kianna Smith added 11. Besides a strong rebounding performance, Engstler has a game-high six steals.

1Q: Louisville 17, Michigan 13

Three-point shooting was lights out for the Cards but a trio of offensive fouls held Louisville back from pulling ahead. Chelsie Hall came to play, showing her long range shooting to help spark the offense. The Wolverines used a 7-0 run to take a 13-12 lead before the Cards scored the final five points of the quarter.

2Q: Louisville 30, Michigan 27

Louisville's notorious drought came early. The Cards missed several scoring opportunities involving multiple missed layups and Hillmon was able to get involved for a Michigan including a big block moments before the end of the quarter. A rare made layup right before the buzzer allowed the Cards to go into halftime with a three-point lead.

3Q: Louisville 45, Michigan 43

After having a chance to take a double-digit lead, the Cards went cold from the floor and were whistled on what seemed to be every possession on defense as Michigan knocked down free throw after free throw to bring the score within two to close out the quarter.

4Q: Louisville - Michigan

Welcome back to the game, Olivia Cochran! After battling foul trouble all game, the forward came in clutch on both ends of the court by shutting down Hillmon and scoring a good portion of Louisville's points down the stretch. Emily Engstler, although struggling to make a shot, found ways to be disruptive on the defensive end and made sure to prevent Michigan from hauling in offensive boards. The Cards closed the game on a 10-0 run.

Following the final buzzer the team showed tons of emotions while celebrating. Close-ups of Jeff Walz, Hailey Van Lith, and Olivia Cochran all showed tears in their eyes. I think we all had tears in our eyes at home too, though.

My favorite quote from the immediate on-court postgame came from Van Lith when asked about what Kobe Bryant would say to her if he was still with us. Van Lith's response triggered a couple bleeps on national tv when she said "Go f-ing when this sh*t, Hailey. We not done." I think we can all agree that Van Lith was the MVP of the Wichita Region after scoring 20+ points in all four NCAA Tournament games so far, the first Louisville player to accomplish this feat. She has certainly stepped up as a leader and go-to player.

With the Cards' trip to the Final Four, we are back to the super cool statement that "Every player to play a full four years under Walz at Louisville has been to a Final Four." That statement is incredibly awesome and is also a great recruiting tool for future recruits.

FRED Report

Fred says, "Let's Play Two More !"

Free Throws- Louisville shot 7-9 from the charity stripe including a couple important ones down the stretch. Despite the Cards only getting seven trips to the line as opposed to Michigan getting 20 (seriously, prison stripes?) the 77.8% shooting earns a capital "F".

Rebounding- Okay, Emily Engstler deserves a capital R+ with a cherry on top for her effort. The next closest player on the floor behind Engstler was still five boards behind her. However, Louisville lost the overall rebounding battle 36-30. Because of the effort of Engstler, the Cards still salvage a lowercase "r" in my book.

Effort/Execution- 24. That's the key number here. Louisville scored 24 points off turnovers, with many of those coming in transition. Remarkable! Louisville also posted 32 points in the paint while going against one of the best post players in the country. When things got tight down the stretch, Louisville went on a 10-0 run to close the game and seal the win. Capital "E".

Defense- Michigan was held scoreless for the final 5:42 of the game. Without the defense stepping up down the stretch, the Cards don't win this game. Louisville's full court press helped force Michigan into 22 turnovers and a pair of shot clock violations. The Wolverines shot 34.8% from the floor. If you take away Hillmon's 10 made free throws, no Michigan player scored in double figures. To top it off, Louisville held Michigan to seven fourth quarter points. Capital "D".

F-r-E-D is a good way to win your Elite Eight game and by the Wichita Regional champion.

The Final Four is Set

Now we have our Final Four. South Carolina and Stanford were the first teams to punch their tickets with wins over Creighton and Texas, respectively, on Sunday. The final two teams- UConn and Louisville- punched their tickets last night. The Huskies took down NC State in a wild double overtime thriller while the Cards downed Michigan.

1-South Carolina vs 1-Louisville will tip off at 7:00 p.m. ET, and 1-Stanford vs 2-UConn will tip off around 9:30. These two games gives us two great match-ups to tune into. Stanford is looking to go back-to-back. South Carolina is hoping to win their first championship since 2017. UConn looks to win their first title since 2016, when the Huskies had wrapped up a four-peat. Louisville has its eyes on the program's first ever championship.

Pick Em

With the Final Four set, the NCAA Cardinal Couple Pick Em continues to be a tight race. Here is the latest standings:

45 wins: Kenny Schneider, Kenneth Stark Sr, Jared, Perry Sosh, Bea

44 wins: Nick O, Jeff

43 wins: Joe Hill, Doug Anderson, Jason Wyrick

42 wins: Blue Lou, Katy

41 wins: Benny J, Case

40 wins: David Watson, Daryl

39 wins: Vivian McAdams

38 wins: Louavulfan35

37 wins: Curtis Franklin, Arthur

36 wins: Paul

33 wins: Sonya

21 wins: CC Chimps

Since it's after midnight and I have to be up in about six hours for work, I'm hoping Paul can double check my work on this to make sure his numbers match mine.

For now, let's enjoy our Tuesday with a little celebration and prepare for Friday.

Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!

Monday, March 28, 2022

Cards WBB faces Michigan tonight -- Softball beats Clemson -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


A rematch stands between Louisville and a trip to the Final Four.  

On December 2nd, 2021, the Cards hosted Michigan, returning back to the friendly confines of the KFC YUM! Center after a three game road swing out west. To say the Cards were happy to be back home would be as big an understatement as saying race track aficionados like the  Kentucky Derby, and the Cards entertained an appreciative crowd with a 70-48 rout of Michigan. A 24-6 second quarter for Louisville in that December matchup and 39-15 halftime lead for UofL..The Cards were beginning to realize just how good Emily Everything was going to be in a Louisville uniform and Louisville women's sports fans were also fired up because Volleyball was kicking off their NCAA run with a convincing win over the UIC Flames. 

When Louisville faces Michigan tonight at 9 p.m. in Wichita, they'll face a Maize and Blue squad that has improved leaps and bounds since the last time these two met. Entering the NCAA Tournament as a #3 seed, the Wolverines probably weren't expected by many to play in the final game of the Wichita Regional, since #2 seed Baylor was a "shoo in" by many experts and participants in our "pick em" to advance. Someone forgot to tell South Dakota that Baylor had the golden road lined out for getting to Wichita and the Coyotes walked into Baylor's home arena and left with the "W", 

Welcome to March Madness, Nikki Collen.


Michigan struggled against the Coyotes to get to tonight's game. But, in Survive and Advance City, the mean streets of the brackets care not how much you win by, any ol' "W" will do to get your name advanced across the bracket. 

We know how good Naz Hillmon is. We know that Kim Barnes Arico is an experienced and successful coach who has gone 7-1 against top 25 teams since that loss to Louisville. 

Ask guard Maddie Nolan of the Wolverines: 

"We've learned a lot and we've grown a lot and I think we've learned how to play with each other a lot more. ." 

Louisville held Michigan to their lowest point total of the season in the previous matchup.  Kim Barnes Arico will tell you she's also fully aware of what Cardinals fans have known all season -- the defense sets the tone for Louisville. 

“Their defense in that first game really surprised me,” Barnes Arico said. “Great, outstanding, probably better than I anticipated. Kind of a little bit of a wake-up call of, ‘Holy cow, this team just dialed it up against us. How are we going to handle that pressure?’

“I think they have been able to do that against a number of teams this year, and that’s going to be a challenge for us tomorrow. That’s one of the many strengths of their team, their defensive intensity.  

The Cards play a little offensive, too, Kim, and they have a significant number of players who dial that up, also.


Hiya, Carmyn Greenwood ! How nice of you to salvage a rough weekend at Clemson for Louisville Softball with your eighth inning, two run "touch 'em all" against the Tigers yesterday.  The Cards broke a 2-all tie with the extra inning blast and Taylor Roby spent eight productive innings in the circle to push the Cards record to 18-12. 


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Survive and Advance - Sunday Cardinal Couple

Elite Eight Achieved

The Louisville women's basketball team advanced to the Elite Eight with a 76-64 win over Tennessee in Wichita.

The Lady Vols got on the board first at the beginning of the game, and would trade buckets with the Cards a few times.  UofL would take their first lead of the game three and a half minutes in on a Kianna Smith three pointer, and would never relinquish the lead in the game again.  Tennessee would get within two at the beginning of the fourth quarter after spending all of the 3rd quarter chipping away at the lead.

Louisville led by as much as 15 points midway through the second quarter, and while it never felt like UofL was about to let it slip away, no lead ever felt truly safe.

Emily Engstler and Hailey Van Lith both had 20+ point games, 23 for Van Lith and 20 for Engstler.  Engstler would pair that with a 10 rebound effort for a double double.  Van Lith was the most giving on the team with six assists, and Chelsie Hall handed out four assists while just missing double-digit scoring with nine.  Kianna Smith had 12 points and four steals.  A great effort by the freshman Payton Verhulst as well.  Verhulst dropped seven points and snagged a rebound in front of what was reported to be a massive group of family and friends with Wichita being only about two and a half hours driving time away from her home in De Soto, Kansas.

Perhaps the most under-stat-captured efforts of the game were Olivia Cochran and Liz Dixon.  Three points, three rebounds, and an assist show up on the stat sheet for Cochram, and more alarming if all you look at is the stat sheet was only 16 minutes and five personal fouls.  Dixon had a similar sort of stat line, two points, three blocks, and four rebounds, but what doesn't get shown is how they battled in the paint against 6'6" Tamari Key and was part of largely shutting down the Tennessee big game, holding Key to only three points as well.

The Cards advance to the Elite Eight and will be facing Michigan tomorrow night with a 9pm EDT start time. can only be described as survived...against 10 seed South Dakota, winning 52-49 over the Coyotes.  The other 10 seed still in the tournament, Creighton, did advance to the Elite Eight but will have a tall task ahead of them tonight against South Carolina.  Also in action yesterday, again "survive" is the only verb for NC State's win over Notre Dame, 66-63, and UConn handled business against Indiana, 75-58.

The FRED Report

"Yabba, Dabba, Doo ! It's the Elite Eight for you, LOU !!"

FREE THROWS -- The best quarter for free throw shooting for the Cards was the 2nd quarter, with the squad hitting 4-6 for 66.67%.  And if that's the best it got, well, obviously there's not going to be a letter here.  At just a touch shy of 62% for the game, no "f" can be awarded.  -

REBOUNDS -- 36 rebounds for the Cards, not a terrible total, but this is always compared to the opponents total as well, and in this defensive battle with lots of forced shots on both ends of the court, there were lots of rebounds to be gotten.  Tennessee claimed 52 of them, putting Louisville on the losing end of this stat.  Against, no letter can be awarded here.  -

For EFFORT/EXECUTION, there's a lot of "eye test" here, though assists come in to play.  15 assists on 28 made field goals is a nice total, and compares favorably to Tennessee's nine assists on 24 field goals.  Under 42% field goal shooting is ok, but not spectacular.  I'll award an upper case "E" here.  I think there could be an argument that it's a bit generous, but I credit a lot to the team not giving up as the lead narrowed at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and digging deep to finish the game off well.  Capital "E"

DEFENSE -- For the "D" letter grade, I tend to look to the right side of the stat sheet a lot, in addition to feel from watching the game.  11 steals, eight blocks, and only seven turnovers (compared to UT's 18), combined with keeping the effort level high, I'll give the capital "D".  


- - E D

Cardinal Couple Bracket Report

Bracket updates from Bracket Czar Jared, with double-check by Paulie, as is our typical practice:

42 wins: Bea, Perry Sosh
41 wins: Kenny Schneider, Nick O, Kenneth Stark Sr, Jared, Jeff (wait, really?  My dumpster fire of a bracket has 41 wins?!)
40 wins: Benny J, Joe Hill
39 wins: Doug Anderson, Jason Wyrick, Katy Whitesell, Blue Lou
38 wins: Case
37 wins: David Watson
36 wins: Arthur, Louavulfan35, Daryl, Vivian, Curtis
34 wins: Paulie
32 wins: Sonya
19 wins: CC Chimps

Brackets with all of their Final Four picks still remaining: Kenny Schneider, Blue Lou, Nick O, Kenneth Stark Sr, Bea, Vivian, Doug Anderson, Jason Wyrick, Jared, Katy, Jeff, Daryl


Scott Teeter and his Lacrosse squad tangled with UVA yesterday at the Louisville Lacrosse Stadium in what Winnie the Pooh would certainly have called a blustery day.  The Cavaliers would get the win in a close matchup, 12-11.

Hannah Morris likely scoring one of her pair
Our Jared was there and brought us these pictures, but alas, I couldn't take this one in as I was driving to Cincinnati and back dealing with car problems.  Many thanks to my mother for the rescue and impromptu trip there so I could pick up a loaner vehicle.

UVA did get out to a quick start in the first quarter, getting three on the scoreboard before Louisville could get the offense in gear.  The Cards would get two back, thanks to Nicole Perroni and Paige Richbourg.  The Cavs would get another before the end of the quarter, however.

It was all Cards in the 2nd quarter, though.  A pair by Allegra Catalano, and one by Hannah Morris put the Cards on top 5-4 at halftime.

Catalano would complete the hat trick to open the 3rd quarter scoring, but also set off a blizzard of offense on both ends of the field.  UVA would find the back of the net five times in the quarter and UofL got four.  Catalano claimed three of those with Hannah Morris chipping in her 2nd of the game.

Kokoro Nakazawa tallied a couple of assists
With the score tied 9-9 after three quarters, it was a sprint to the finish.  UVA would score a pair before Nicole Perroni would claw one back with just over five minutes left in the game.  Another UVA score and Paige Richbourg would get another to bring the UVA lead back to just one. 

At the end of the game, Louisville would have one last chance, without about 10 seconds left on the clock, to run the length of the field a fire a shot home, but the long shot was saved by the UVA goalkeeper to preserve the 12-11 lead for the Cavs as time ran out.

UofL Lacrosse alumnae (left to right: Jen Schaaf,
Alex McNicholas, and Ally Hall
Another great effort by the Louisville Lacrosse squad as they continue to chip away at fearsome ACC opponents.

UofL will stay at home for another couple of games, but step out of conference a bit.  Ohio State (no, I'm not putting a "The" in front of it), will come to play Thursday evening at 7pm.  Vanderbilt will be next up at the LLS on Tuesday April 5th with a noon start.


Softball will be wrapping up their series with Clemson today after falling to the Tigers again yesterday.  Louisville would like to get a win against the solidly Top 20 Clemson team, but so far the Tigers have come out on top

Yesterday's bout was a five inning run-rule win for Clemson.  The Tigers put up a trio of runs in both the 2nd and 3rd innings and were threatening for that many or more in the 5th, but the run-rule put a stop to it after the 2nd run of the inning got the score to 8-0.

Chardonnay Harris takes the loss on this one as both the starting pitcher and spending the most time in the circle with 2.1 innings pitched.  Sam Booe made an appearance for 1.2 innings, and Payton Hudson finished out the final two outs of the fifth.

The game today will start at noon in Clemson and is on the ACC Network via your tuner, or as always you can catch it via streaming on the ACC Network Extra.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

(Not a pic of yesterday's podcast lineup...
but we do have CCR as our show's first three initials.)

Case, Daryl, Jared, and Paulie all convened to record the CCRHP yesterday.  Alas, with my emergency trip to Cincinnati and back, the live streaming component via Youtube was not able to happen.

I did listen to most of it myself on the way back down I-71, and it was a great discussion and a lot of fun to just get to listen to.  Basketball dominated the discussion as you might expect as they covered the tournament journey to that point, and previewed the game against Tennessee.

Good fun, and easy to check out at any of your favorite podcast directories and at it's home at:


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Softball Falls to Clemson; Sweet Sixteen Begins -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Softball Loses Opener at 15/16 Clemson

Holly Aprile's squad hit the road for the first time in conference play for a weekend series at Clemson. Oddly, even though they play NC State next weekend, they'll travel back to Louisville on Sunday so they can host a midweek game and then head back that direction on Thursday. Don't look at me: I don't create the travel plans for collegiate athletics. At any rate, Louisville hung tough with the top-25 ranked Tigers, but they were ultimately upended by late inning defensive breakdowns that set the final score at 5-2.

Taylor Roby was in the circle for the first game of the series, and she was locked in a pitcher's duel for much of the game. Louisville offense was stifled completely by Clemson's Millie Thompson, who struck out five of the first six batters. The Cards finally got on base in the third inning, putting runners on first and third with two outs for Roby, but a high pitch enticed her on a 3-1 count and she popped out. The fourth saw Louisville return to a 1-2-3 inning with a hit being followed by a double-play and then another groundout.

On the other side, Roby was effective early. Though she wasn't striking out as many as her counterpart, she was getting through innings fairly easily. Clemson left one on base in each of the first three innings, but finally struck in the fourth. After a strikeout, a walk and a steal put a runner on second with one out. A grounder looked to at least keep the runner at just third with two outs, but a Louisville fielding error allowed the runner to score. A second consecutive error put runners on first and second before Roby induced a lineout and a foulout to end the inning.

As if Clemson scoring woke Louisville's bats up, the Cards immediately took the lead back. After a strikeout, Dylann Cravens reached on a single. Jenna Servi grounded out but moved Cravens up a base. This brought up Carmyn Greenwood with two outs, and she promptly swatted a go-ahead two-run homer. Ally Alexander walked to bring up Roby, but a strikeout ended the rally at just two.

With the lead, Holly Aprile made what I would consider a puzzling decision to pull Roby in favor of Chardonnay Harris. I have nothing against Harris, as she is a fine pitcher, but Roby was not struggling and the previous run scored had not been her fault. Harris picked up a lineout to open the inning then gave up a walk and a single. A strikeout gave the Cards two outs before a passed ball moved the runners to both in scoring position. An intentional walk set up the force out at any base, but an unintentional walk on a full count scored the tying run. Harris was able to force a popout to strand the bases loaded, but the game was back to square.

As if on cue, Millie Thompson turned it back on and sat down the Cards in order in the sixth. Harris came back in for the bottom half and gave up an inning-opening double before Aprile put Roby back in the circle. Again, why take her out in the first place? A sacrifice bunt put the go-ahead run at third with one out, but Roby got a strikeout to put the Cards back in the driver's seat. A full-count walk was followed by a steal, putting two runners in scoring position with two outs. A big showdown loomed and it was Roby that blinked. A single down the left field line scored both runners and gave Clemson the lead. An error on the following play would result in one more run scoring before a strikeout stopped the bleeding. It was too late, though, as the bottom of Louisville's order went 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh inning and the game was over.

Louisville fought hard, but ultimately couldn't string together enough offense and defense at the end to pull out the win. Chardonnay Harris finishes with the loss after it was her runner that scored the go-ahead (and winning) run, but the pitching decisions yesterday were odd. I don't know that Taylor Roby wasn't asking for a break, but to go out and back in seems like it is almost never a good idea from a flow perspective. The Cards will get two more chances to get a top-25 win, and if they can take the series, they'll move back to .500 in conference. Today's game is at 5PM, and tomorrow's is at Noon. Both are on the linear ACCN channel.

Exciting Day 1 of Sweet Sixteen

It was almost all chalk yesterday in the first four games of the Sweet Sixteen, but the games were all exciting nonetheless. Each was decided by fewer than ten points, but the bigger oddity is that the total range of scores in each of the four games was just 15 points. The lowest scoring game yesterday totaled 129, while the highest was just 144. That highest scoring game was also the only upset, as Creighton knocked off ISU to become just the fourth double-digit seed to advance to the women's Elite Eight in history. On the same night, the Peacocks of St. Peters became the not just the first 15-seed to advance to the Elite Eight on the men's side, but also the first team seeded higher than 12th to ever do so.

Across the other three games, chalk prevailed with top-seeded Stanford and South Carolina and second-seeded Texas advancing. While Texas and Ohio State were back and forth all game long in what was ultimately a three-point win for the Longhorns, a six-point win looked much different for Stanford. The Cardinal looked a lot like we've seen the Cardinals of Louisville look a couple of times this season, as they watched a massive lead slip away. Maryland outscored Stanford 30-13 in the fourth quarter to close what had been a 23-point gap entering the fourth. Maryland picked up 12 steals on their way to turning over Stanford 18 times, making the Cardinal look quite vulnerable.

It was a tough second quarter for UNC that saw the Tarheels fall to the hands of the overall 1 seeded South Carolina. The Heels led by one point after the first quarter before being held to single digits in the second quarter. The 17-8 quarter gave the Gamecocks an 8-point halftime lead, which would match the final deficit. UNC trailed by 11 entering the fourth quarter and managed to win the final frame by three to close the gap once more, but South Carolina was too much. Strangely, South Carolina has now ended UNC's season in three different postseason matchups this year: football, women's soccer, and now women's basketball. While we were frustrated when Mississippi State kept doing that to the Cards, at least Mississippi State wasn't one of our major rivals.

The Cards get Tennessee today at 4PM on ESPN. It's the third of four games, as NC State and Notre Dame get things tipped off at 11:30. Following today's games, Jared will run the numbers on the bracket challenge, so be sure to check out Jeff's article tomorrow for a full update of the standings. My bracket went out the window quite some time ago.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

Louisville Lacrosse hosts Virginia today at Noon, so we'll be without our resident photographer on the show as he braves what seem to be very unfortunate conditions. We'll also be without Jeff this week, as car troubles have him away. As such, we'll be without the live show this week, but we will still have the podcast available after we record. We'll get the show started at around 11, like normal, so the show will be up before 1. There are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!

Cardinal Couple YouTube: Link
Anchor (podcast host): Link
Apple Podcasts: Link
Breaker: Link
Google Podcasts: Link
Overcast (free account required): Link
Pocket Casts (free account and app required): Link
RadioPublic: Link
Spotify: Link

Until next time, Go Cards!