Asia’s last game at the Yum! Center, but more to do for UofL women

Asia Durr’s time is running out but there are greater things for her to achieve over the next couple of weeks.

Durr being introduced for the last time at the KFC Yum! Center. Making five 3-pointers. Leaving to a standing ovation at the 1:54 mark. Kissing the floor at center court five minutes after the game, following it up with a victory lap around Denny Crum Court.

Had to be around the past four seasons to appreciate the significance of the moment, enjoying Durr as long as one can, knowing players this good are rare indeed. Probably playing at the Yum! for the last time, again setting the tone for the Cardinals against another outstanding opponent. Seemingly always at her best when it counts the most.

Asia would score 24 points to lead all scorers, making nine of 24 shots and five assists. The University of Louisville would defeat Michigan 71-50 in front of an exuberant  crowd of 7,725, in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Durr was joined on her post-game victory lap by fellow seniors Sam Fuehring and Arica Carter, constituting a trio of seniors who have compiled a 123-22 won-lost record at UofL over the past four seasons. No looking back. a time to celebrate, looking ahead to  their third consecutive Sweet 16 berth and a trip to the Albany Regional.

Behind Durr’s first three 3-pointers and 12 points, Louisville would race to an early 19-11 lead in the first quarter. The teams were essentially trading baskets until UofL outscored Michigan 17-5 in the third quarter, the Wolverines gasping for breath as the four quarter began.

Jazmine Jones would add 15 points, Sam Fuehring and Dana Evan 10 points apiece. Kylie Shook, starting her second straight NCAA tournament game, would add 10 rebounds, eight points and two blocks. 

Durr and her classmates running those post-game laps, celebrating the past four seasons, not wanting to leave the floor for the last time. Wanting to ensure that an intensely loyal fan base receives credit as well.

“It was great,” said Durr. “Playing here for four years with such great fans, great people who follow you everywhere, literally everywhere. I can’t really put it into words because it’s a feeling that you’ll never forget, and years down the line, you talk to your kids, your grandkids, your friends about these four years …”

Walz has front row seat across street, Louisville women roll in NCAA opener

Sam Fuehring in top photo and Asia Durr sharing scoring honors with 19 points apiece in UofL’s opening NCAA win (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Jeff Walz watching the game on the big screen at a restaurant across the street, having been suspended for comments following the University of Louisville’s loss in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament last season.

Not the place he wanted to be but Walz had to be ecstatic following UofL’s 69-34 spanking of Robert Morris in this year’s opening round at the KFC Yum! Center. Robert Morris had no chance. No answers for an intimidating performance by Louisville.

Stephanie Norman does her job, winning the opening game in the NCAA. Now the pressure is back on Jeff Walz (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Assistant Stephanie Norman said she felt little pressure subbing for Walz. “He just told us to go out and have fun,” she stated.

“To have someone like that as your boss really instills a lot of confidence and pride, and so he — he kept like making it really easy — well, he jokingly put pressure on me. But now the pressure’s on him. I did my job. ”

Louisville made it look easy against the smaller Colonials of the Northeast Conference. At one point between the first and into the second quarter Robert Morris missed 17 straight field goal attempts.

Sam Fuehring following up one of her most disappointing starts in a loss to Notre Dame with one of her best ever games, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Asia Durr would have 19 as well, resting most of the second half with the game out of hand. Dana Evans added 13 points and Bionca Dunham 10 points and seven rebounds. 

“We didn’t get off to the best start finishing shots we normally make,” said Colonials coach Charlie Buscaglia. “We don’t see this kind of length and athleticism at the mid-major level. Louisville definitely disrupted our pace.” 

That and a lot of other things.

 

 

Wait till next year time for Louisville basketball

Time to put the basketballs in mothballs.

The University of Louisville dies a quick death Thursday afternoon. First game. First out. Minnesota 86, Louisville 76.  UofL finishes 20-14, losing six of their last eight games. The two wins coming against Notre Dame.

The Cardinals shoot air balls. Fall trying to rebound. Foul three point shooters. Actually don’t guard the three-point line where the Golden Gophers averaged five made threes a game but made 11 of 27 on Thursday.

Minnesota led by as many of 19 points. Gabe Kalscheur led the Gophers with 24 points making five of 11 three point baskets and eight rebounds. Amir Coffey added 13. The Gophers had zero bench points.

Christen Cunningham led the Cards with 22 points, Jordan Nwora had 10 for a team that shot 44.1 per cent from the floor and nine of 26 from three point baskets for 34.6 percent. The teams payed to a 35-35 draw rebounding.
“It’s a special movement for our program,” said Gophers coach Richard Pitino, son of former Cardinals head man, Rick Pitino. “We beat a really good Louisville team.”

The Cardinals never gave up, but were climbing a mountain all afternoon.
The NCAA Tournament is the reward for a season well played. Louisville did enough to earn an at large bid to the 68 team field for the first time since 2017 and the second time in four years.

Card Nation is tired of the drama with the basketball and football teams. The committee added drama with the matchup between Pitino’s 10th seeded Gophers and seventh seed Louisville. It was the tournament’s first game in of this years tournament. A CBS national audience watching for at least 30 minutes. The Cardinals were mostly a mess. Louisville gave up three baskets at a alarming rate. Fell down on rebounds. Shot air balls. What could Chris Mack do?

It’s the journey. No more false hopes, bad basketball won’t do. Card Nation can only hope and wait till next year.

Not pretty, nowhere to hide, Louisville basketball is done

A strange season, full of puzzling ups and downs, unbelievable twists and turns, winding up in a ditch Thursday for the University of Louisville basketball team. A sense of relief cascading over the fan base now that the 2018-19 season has come screeching to a halt.

Back to the NCAA, a few nice wins, fewer distractions this season, some good things happening along the way.

At the end, however, it was increasingly obvious that Coach Chris Mack had a lack of players with real basketball savvy or talent. For Mack to win 20 games and finish seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference with this team was an incredible accomplishment. Ending in an 86-76 loss to Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA.

Mack was being sensitve, wanting to spare the feelings of his players. Nowhere to hide if the talent isn't there.

A team that defeated Michigan State, beat North Carolina by 21 points at Chapel Hill, led Virginia by 10 points at the half and led Duke by 23 points in the second half. How were any of these accomplishments even possible? Outmanned at every position on the floor in the spotlight games, the Cardinals somehow managed to raise expectations to traditional levels.

Just when one started to believe in them, however, they would fail to show up, resembling a local YMCA team. Few signs of individual leadership, except when Jordan Nwora was hitting the circus 3-pointers. But depending far too much on 3-pointers, with seemingly nary a clue about layups until games were out of reach. 

Can’t remember since the dwindling days of the Denny Crum era any examples of worse defensive efforts. Worked for a while but it didn’t take long for teams to figure it out, probably because some of the UofL players were not equipped for the challenge.

“Not quite good enough,” as the coach quipped at the end of his press conference. He was being sensitive, wanting to spare the feelings of his players. Nowhere to hide if the talent isn’t there.

There was ample evidence, however, that future Chris Mack-coached teams will be far superior to his initial installation. Rick Pitino and David Padgett left the cupboard pretty bare, forcing Mack to rely heavily on transfers and players who didn’t capture the imagination of many top level college teams. No heroes on the bench, no contributions from any walk-ons, no born leaders.

Mack did take this team much farther than anyone ever predicted, far surpassing low expectations. He’s going to be rewarded for his initiative, his persistence and patience with the second highest ranked recruiting class in the nation. Mack is already ahead of the game, and his program is only going to get better.

Louisville is dancing again, with Richard Pitino in opening act

The ghost of Rick Pitino will hang over University of Louisville in the opening game of the 2019 NCAA tournament.

By Ed Peak

The NCAA just could help itself, matching the University of Louisville against Rick Pitino’s son. Just too obvious, the irony. But the Cardinals are back.

That eruption that shook the area at 6:07 Sunday evening was UofL fans celebrating another bid to the NCAA basketball Tournament. Good to be back in the club, enjoy it while it lasts.

After not being in the tournament two of the last three years the Cardinals (20-13) are a No. 7 seed in the East Regional. The Cardinals will play 10th seeded Minnesota (21-13) in Des Moines, Thursday at 12:15 p.m. It will be the first game in the tournament and will have the nation’s attention until at least 12:40.

The Gophers, of course, are coached by Richard Pitino, son of former Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Former Cardinal big man Matz Stockman plays for the Golden Gophers. “Rick Pitino will fly back from Greece to be at practice to help,” cracked ESPN analyst Seth Greenburg.

“It’s the elephant in the room,”said Chris Mack at his press conference. “I’ve coached a few guys that played for Rick. Can’t control what people are going to talk about, write about or report on. You can only beat a horse for so long.”

The Big Ten placed eight teams in the tournament. The Atlantic Coast Conference has seven but three of them are No. 1 seeds — Duke, Virginia and North Carolina — along with Gonzaga. I didn’t believe there was anyway the ACC would have three No. 1 seeds. Not that they didn’t deserve it, I just didn’t think the committee would have the guts.

I’m going with Duke to win all the marbles. Despite a short bench, the Blue Demons have the best player Zion Williamson, the best coach in Mike Krzyewski and a supporting cast of former Macdonald’s All-Americans.

Don’t doubt that Louisville could make it interesting, however, having dominated three of the top four seeds for more than a few minutes this season. Defeating North Carolina in one game, and managing nice leads before folding against Duke and Virginia.