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Sunday, April 9, 2023

Easter Sunday - Sunday Cardinal Couple

Reactions to Van Lith Entering the Portal

(Guessing Paulie won't get any more "selfie" chances with HVL...)

The discussion that pushed everything else "below the fold" yesterday was, of course, Hailey Van Lith's entry into the transfer portal.  Just about no one expected this news, and reactions have been all over the place.

Let's start with Coach Jeff Walz, he put out a statement thanking HVL for her contributions, asserting she was a excellent member of the organization, and wishing her the best in her next steps.  It's a statement that will be immediately recognizable to anyone that has worked with a corporate HR department in spirit, if not in specific wording.

The rest of the players still on the squad, and at least one in departing by graduation, expressed that they are excited to be returning (well, except for the graduating player, obviously), and expected great things ahead.  They almost universally stated that there was no drama within the organization and that they were expecting great things in the coming year.

Fan reactions were, predictably, all over the place.  Many people lamented the state of college sports and attacked the transfer portal as the source of all of the woes.  Most commenters assume that HVL is either looking to join a school that has a better chance of winning a national title, or a school that has better NIL support than Louisville.  I'm not sure I really understand the first of those, as Louisville in the Jeff Walz years has consistently been in the mix for a national title.  The critique of NIL money available at Louisville may bear some scrutiny, however.

Case, Paulie, and I discussed this topic, as you might expect, quite significantly during the CCRHP yesterday, and my take is a bit different.  Pardon a bit of editorializing, here.  I think we can all agree that HVL is a driven and ambitious young woman.  That drive is what has lead her to put in the work to be a high level basketball player, and her ambition has lead her to take full advantage of the opportunities that NIL has offered her.

I don't believe that HVL sees her future as being a basketball player, however.  Surely basketball will play a role, but she's not counting on the WNBA or overseas play to pay her a salary and set her up for life.  Let's be honest, WNBA pay still doesn't compare to overseas play, and both pale in comparison to what she's earning through NIL.  HVL also has a good head for business.  Her degree, that she will be awarded in May, is in Finance.  That's straight up business school finance, not sports administration, not sports management.  She has learned how to use money to make money, and that what I expect she will do.

For those of us that have followed HVL on Instagram, have seen her involvement in the fashion world as well, heading off to New York City last year for fashion week, and other events.  So taking all of this together, my belief is that HVL is making a very well informed jump to a place where she can maximize her own personal NIL efforts and leverage those into her future career.  She's not looking for a school with a larger NIL effort as a school, she's looking at her own NIL success instead and those don't necessarily point the same place.

So I expect she will land at a school in a large fashion market.  That could be LA, so UCLA, USC, or any of a number of other schools in the area; Miami, which would be Miami or perhaps USF; or somewhere around NYC.  There aren't a great many schools in NYC that are big basketball destinations, so that may end up being somewhere just outside of the city.  HVL's Instagram story posted less than a day before entering the transfer portal placed her in Brooklyn, giving a little extra support to the NYC idea.

OK, so what does all of this mean for UofL women's basketball?  HVL's departure, combined with other portal news and graduations, leaves the squad with four returning players, Olivia Cochran, Nyla Harris, Merissah Russell, and Alexia Mobley.  All four, as mentioned above, expressed excitement for the future and their involvement at UofL.  Add in the addition of  Eylia Love and Jayda Curry, and the roster currently has six players on it.  UofL currently has no signed players joining as freshman in the fall, so we should be expecting a lot announcements of transfers joining the squad.  Until we see who these folks are going to be, we won't really be able to have a good idea of what this coming season will look like.

It is interesting times, to be sure, and you may be among those fans that don't like what the transfer portal and NIL is doing to college sports.  Personally, I believe the athletes are better off for having both the portal and NIL available.  Maybe it's to the detriment of some traditional powerhouse schools, maybe even to the sport as a whole, but if those successes have been built on the backs of the un-, or undercompensated work of the athletes that make it possible, I ,for one, am glad to the resolve the latter at the cost of the former.


Yes Korbe Otis, we salute you, too.
Softball wrapped up their three game series with Notre Dame, starting it a day early in order to complete it on Saturday.  It would be rather gauche to be playing Notre Dame on Easter Sunday, so that makes sense.

There might be a joke here about UofL Softball rising up after three days, getting the win in the third game of the series, 6-2, after Notre Dame won the first two, but I don't want to push too hard on that joke as I don't want to be flippant about the religious implications of Easter for those who believe and celebrate.

Alyssa Zabala in mid-pitch
The impressive freshman in the circle, Alyssa Zabala, again got the start, pitching for 5+ innings before seeing Taylor Roby take over in relief.

There wasn't a whole lot going on in this game through three innings, Notre Dame got on the board first in the 2nd innings with a trio of singles.  UofL would answer in the 3rd with two outs as Korbe Otis absolutely blasted a ball out to right center.  The fielder had a little trouble gathering it in, not enough to call it an error, but enough for the quick-like-an-Easter-Bunny-Otis to get to third with a small margin.  Easton Lotus singled to finish the trip for Otis.

Maddi Grant after a single and advancing on a
throwing error
Louisville broke loose in the bottom of the 4th.  Hannah File got it started with a one out single.  Daisy Hess advanced her with a beautiful bunt that also saw Hess beat out the throw to first.  Unfortunately, Hess would get picked off the bag when she took a bit too much of a lead off with a brilliant throw from the catcher to first for Notre Dame.  Makayla Hurst, pinching hitting for Ally Alexander singled, scoring File from second.  Alexander re-entered to run for Hurst, and then advanced on a Pickle Winkler single.  Another pinch hitter, in the form of Maddi Grant, this time for Paige Geraghty, results in a single that scores Alexander.  Pickle advanced to third on the play, and a throwing error allowed her to get home as well.  Geraghty re-entered to run for Grant and a double by Korbe Otis would get Geraghty all the way around.  The total was four runs in the 4th, giving the Cards a marginally comfortable 5-1 lead.

Hannah File sure looks like she's having fun.
Notre Dame would claim one back with a solo home run shot in the top of the 5th.  That, combined with some troubles in the top of the 6th would finish Zabala's day.  The Cards did get out of the jam with a really head's up double play.

Louisville would add one more insurance run in the 6th.  Pickle singled, got to second on a Geraghty sacrifice, and scored on an Otis single to left field.

Daisy Hess celebrates after a successful runner
pickle, not Pickle, results in a double play.
So the Cards salvage one game of the series against Notre Dame, and now look forward to a stretch of non-conference games.  They start Tuesday in Bloomington against IU, then welcome Miami (OH), an extremely good Oklahoma team, and Oakland in for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and then head down I-65 to play WKU in Bowling Green next Wednesday.  They return to ACC action on April 21st in Charlottesville against Virginia.

(Softball pictures credit to Jared Anderson.)

Lacrosse ACC Woes Continue

Lacrosse continues to struggle in the ACC, losing yesterday to Virginia Tech, 17-7 in Blacksburg.

It seems like this UofL Lacrosse squad can play a half of a game pretty well, but fall apart in the other half.  This time it was the first half when UofL just couldn't get much of anything done.

It was a relatively slow start in general, with Rachel Lifson tieing it up 1-1 with 6:33 left in the first quarter.  VT would get another pair in those remain first quarter minutes, but would extend that run to halftime, scoring another six to take the halftime lead 9-1.

The Cards would still lose the second half, but it was by a much closer margin, 6-8.  Kokoro Nakazawa would get the scoring starting in the 3rd quarter with a feed from her sister Negai.  VT answered, but UofL would trim the margin just a bit more with a pair of goals midway through the quarter, one from Lauren Figas, and the other from Alexa Steffens fed by Allegra Catalano.  VT ran off another run of six goals with the last of those being in the opening seconds of the 4th quarter.

UofL didn't give up, however, they three goals in the last eleven and a half minutes of the game, only allowing one more for VT in that time, but the deficit was just far too much by that point.  Those goals were by Negai Nakazawa, Allegra Catalano, and Izzy Seikel.

Scott Teeter on the loss: 

"We are struggling putting it all together. We start the game with three defensive stops and then turn the ball over in the clear. Then, we keep getting into card trouble. We need to go back to the basics and compete." 

A midweek game against the Cincinnati Bearcats on Wednesday here at the Louisville Lacrosse Stadium is next up for LouLax.  It will, as always, be available on the ACC Network Extra, look for that start at 4pm.

Spring Exhibition Play

Women's Soccer went to Bowling Green Ohio to play against Bowling Green State University, and dropped the decision 3-2 in a closely competed game.

Meanwhile, Volleyball also headed into the Buckeye state with a clash against Ohio State, one of only three teams to hand Louisville a loss in last year's season, along with Pitt, and Texas in the National Title game.  Louisville would have some revenge, beating the Buckeyes in a 3-0 sweep.

Both teams return home for action on April 15th, Soccer will welcome Michigan State, and Volleyball will be playing Tennessee.

If you plan on coming to watch volleyball vs Tennessee, plan on arriving early.  The match starts at 6pm, and doors open at 5pm.  There is a massive club volleyball tournament that will be going on at the Fairgrounds and there will be quite a few of those teams that will come over to watch UofL in action.  Last year for this event, there were a couple hundred people left standing at the door unable to enter after the facility was declared to be at capacity.  Entrance is first come, first served.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

Obviously the HVL transfer was the news of the day, and Case, Paulie, and myself, had plenty of discussion about that, including my thinking on HVL's motives in making this decision.  Check it out if you want to hear that discussion.

We also did cover Softball and Lacrosse.

Check it out either at Spotify or any other reasonable podcast directory:

-- JMcA


  1. David Watson4/09/2023 11:17 AM

    The sun has burned out in the UofL WBB Universe. It's the biggest departure in the program since Mariya Moore split in 2017. And, it's not a player dissention or dissatisfaction thing (or so it appears not be) but a case of one player's selfishness about wanting more. A player that has "more" than 99% of the players in college WBB.

    And, it makes you wonder, how much is enough? Leaving a team, a fan base and a community that had made you one of those "one name" an Angel or Shoni or Myisha...for what?

    How much is enough, Hailey? You reneged on your promise to bring a national championship here -- a promise many believed you could do.

    The death blow to a fan base that worshipped you is unrepairable. Any hotshot, can't miss wonder will now be viewed with a jaundiced eye. "Yeah, but remember what Hailey pulled" will be a catch-phrase, like "remember Laettner's shot" or "that was a foul by McCowan on Myisha".

    Live well with what ever you gain, prosper from and achieve by leaving Louisville a year early. Just, please don't ever refer fondly to the city, program, coaching staff or former teammates. You plunged the dagger deep in the back of the unsuspecting and trusting fan. And, that fan outweighs any small tokens of "I love Louisville" that ever came out of you. It's a messy divorce here, and you'd be the one responsible for the alimony.

    Would one more year at the Ville really have really crippled your future that much?

    Have a great life.


  2. I'm glad HVL came to play for UofL she extended Louisville's WBB program to the younger basketball Generation and she did great things for the University, so players leave it's about the players that are currently here. So it open up opportunity for other players, the players that kind of got slighted in my opinion because of all the attention she received.

    I like when the student athlete (players) come to the university and you get to know them ,their personality and who they're becoming as basketball players. That's a great thing in college sports that's the kind of thing that's going to be missed.
    Go Cards L1C4!!!

    1. I was pissed when the Freshman Class all but one left so that pissed me off.

    2. More PT for the other players.

  3. I have a hunch, a feeling, that's there's more to this than just looking to expand horizons for Van Lith.

    It's coaching.

    Look at Syracuse and what happened to Q up there.

    Any time you have that many players leave, it isn't just coincidence. Walz has said in the past, it's my way or the highway, but look at the coddling he gave Konno, Van Lith and Kasa.

    Maybe it's time a few exit interviews were done by an independent board of review, like with Verhulst and a few others. Nyah Green and Elizabeth Balogun maybe.

    I agree, Walz has had a ton of success at Louisville, but, he's also run off a great number of players.

  4. What assistants are left from when Van Lith first got here? Purcell is gone. Sam Williams is gone. Michelle Clark-Heard is gone. Beth Burns is gone. Only "lifer" Steph Norman remains. True, they all got head or assistant coaching jobs.
    Did Walz replace them with "as good as" replacements? I don't think so.

    1. Time will tell if these assistants are as good as the ones that left.

    2. It's kind of strange there's no freshman class this year.

  5. Just an opinion from someone with no inside info: I’m not neither surprised nor disappointed that HVL left. She seems very ambitious and single minded. She spent 3 years here, and she obviously thinks spending her next year (or maybe 2 w/ the extra covid yr) elsewhere is best for her. I’m not a fan or detractor of HVL, just a lifelong Card fan who knows the team will move on. The more important thing is that Walz has some serious recruiting issues. But he’s a clever, talented coach and I’m sure he’ll figure it out.

  6. I just feel...shocked.
    Was hearing "rumors" starting Wednesday and shrugged them off, thinking NO WAY.
    Usually not one against change, but I don't like the portal. Too many players moving with no consequences. Too many "one and dones".
    There's very little continuity, glaring when you look at our squad, especially since COVID.


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