Ken Lolla missed having Tom Jurich around

Ken Lolla with son Tyler and wife Tina shortly after UofL soccer competed in the College Cup championship game in 2011 (Photo by Charlie Springer).

This Observer is still trying to come to grips with Ken Lolla’s surprising decision to resign as head coach of the University of Louisville soccer team. One of the highest paid college coaches, with the absolute best facilities, and the solid support of the fan base. Just up and leaves.

Lolla has indicated that he accepted the UofL job because he got caught in Tom Jurich’s vision for the athletic program. Took the job because of Jurich and was rewarded with a $17 million stadium, the envy of college soccer programs everywhere.

Tom Jurich at the opening of the Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium in 2014.

One suspects that Lolla never got over how Jurich was abruptly dismissed by an interim President in 1917, fired with “cause” for what later proved to be allegations with no basis in fact. The Lollas and Jurichs were close friends and the treatment left an indelible impression on Lolla.

“We came here because of Tom’s leadership style and the way he handled people, and really his vision as well,” Lolla told WLKY-TV.  “It was very easy to get caught in that wave of Tom’s vision and what he saw. 

“It was intoxicating, motivating and exciting at the same time. Did that change when he left? Certainly, it did. Not to disparage anyone else, but (when) somebody like that, as dynamic as he is, leaves, there’s a void.”

As good as Vince Tyra is proving to be as athletic director, there is still a vacuum to be filled at UofL with the absence of Tom Jurich. Anyone who watched what he built over two decades feels it and misses Jurich. The University owes him a great deal.

Ken Lolla is right. He felt strongly enough about the treatment of Jurich that he finally resigned in mid-stream to face an uncertain future. He came because of Tom Jurich and could no longer do without Tom around.

Any acknowledgement of Jurich’s accomplishments should not perceived as Tyra shortcomings. Tyra has been impressive in following a legend, making unprecedented efforts to listen to fans and to respond to their concerns. . Tyra didn’t need the job, taking it because UofL needed someone like him at the helm during at a critical time for the school. He is the right man at the right time.

If at all possible, however, the University needs to find a way to show its appreciation Tom Jurich for all he did. UofL needs to welcome him and his family back into the fold, certainly on a honorary basis. He should always be a part of the University of Louisville.

Punching bag Asia Durr for 32, UofL women topple Kentucky

Asia Durr gets an arm to the chest from Kentucky’s Tatyana Wyatt but still gets the basket on her way to 32 points (Photo by Cindy Rice Shelton).

The rivalry never gets old, never any lack of intensity.

Two of the best women’s basketball teams to compete in the Louisville vs. Kentucky rivalry, entering the game with identical 9-0 records. Cruising in the pre-conference season, each wanting another signature win. But mostly wanting to knock their rival from the ranks of the unbeaten.

UofL ranked fifth in the nation, UK 19th. Even more motivation for the Wildcats, wanting to move up in the poll, wanting the Cardinals to slide. Louisville equally fired up for Kentucky, the last thing UofL needs is a loss to the arch rival.

Louisville would win this showdown 80-75 before a crowd of 13,786 crowd of heavily red-clad fans at the KFC Yum! Center. It was UofL’s third straight in the series, and probably the most impressive win yet a team that could be among UK’s best in recent years.

Continue reading “Punching bag Asia Durr for 32, UofL women topple Kentucky”

Louisville basketball looking to close out year on high notes

Jordan Nwora dunking again and again, scoring 22 points in 82-78 win over Lipscomb on Wednesday (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

As expected, some early ups and downs for the University of Louisville basketball team during the first season under Coach Chris Mack. Some good wins, some unexpected challenges in compiling a 7-3 won-lost record. UofL will get better with four straight games at home, but tournament expectations remain guarded.
 
The Cardinals opened the season at plus-10,000 to end up as national champions in 2019 at online betting sites like BetOnline. Since then, they have moved up the ranks at a few spots to as low as plus-7,000.
 
Louisville isn’t currently in the top 25 in either the Associated Press poll or the Coaches Poll, but TeamRankings predictive power ratings has the Cards at No. 26. They’ve had a pretty tough schedule over the last few games, with wins over Michigan State and Seton Hall and tough losses against Marquette and Indiana.
 
The Cardinals have the No. 38 offense in college basketball, putting up over 89 points per game. The defense isn’t bad at 69.62 allowed on average, but if they want to climb into the top 20 they are going to have to tighten up on the defensive side. Ranking 117th in total defense isn’t going to cut it.
UK rivalry game looms

Now Louisville moves into a four-game home stretch, getting Kent State, Robert Morris, Kentucky, and then Miami (Fla).  Kent State is rated as the No. 143 team but over the last nine games has trended down to look more like No. 150. Robert Morris is first in the Northeast at 4-6 and is essentially a tune-up game.  
 
The team will get a full week off for Christmas before facing a tough, 20th ranked Kentucky Wildcats. This game could go either way.

Points per game – UK 84.2 vs. UofL81.7
Allowed per game- UK 71.3 vs. UofL 69.4
Average margin – UK +12.9 vs. UofL +12.2
Away vs Home Rating – UK #10 vs. UofL #10
Opponent FG % – UK 50.2 vs. UofL 47.6
 
The Miami Hurricanes have to face NC State two days before they come to Louisville, so the Cardinals have the advantage of another long rest period between their games with Kentucky and the Canes. The Cardinals will win at least four out of five as we head into the new year.
 

Ugly Sweater Night lights up Louisville women’s basketball

Ugly Sweater Night for University of Louisville women’s basketball has always brought out the best in holiday cheer in the past and this year was no exception. All sorts of Christmas apparel was in evidence among the 7,104 fans on hand for  the recent game against Tennessee Martin.

Asia Durr led the way again, scoring 25 points in a 102-62 win that improved UofL’s won-loss record to 9-0 for the season. Arica Carter, Bionca Dunham and Dana Evans added 16, 14 and 11 points respectively. 

Sunday is Pack the House day as UofL entertains unbeaten Kentucky (9-0) at 2 p.m. Tickets for $4 are available at the UofL ticket office with a Kroger Plus Card.

Ugly Sweater Night photos by Cindy Rice Shelton.

 

Scott Satterfield brings expectations for Louisville football

A new face with a refreshing outlook.

There’s a new man in the coach’s office at the Schnellenberger football complex today, an individual who just a couple of weeks ago couldn’t have imagined being there. But there he is sorting through the roster, figuring out who’s going, who’s on the fence and who’s staying with just two weeks before national signing day.

Scott Satterfield has taken on a difficult challenge, that of reversing the fortunes of the University of Louisville football team. A program that tumbled over the cliff this past season, losing its last nine games while allowing more than 50 points on six different occasions. Turning that around could be seen as a daunting task for many coaches.

Athletic Director Vince Tyra, undaunted by a turndown by former UofL great Jeff Brohm, said he was interested in Satterfield from the beginning, fascinated with how Appalachian State had dominated the Sun Belt Conference. Narrow overtime losses to Tennessee and Penn State also intrigued him.

“We wanted a winner, and I wanted someone to want us as badly as we wanted him,” said Tyra. “There was competition for Scott in this process, and I’m glad we were able to stay in front of the competition. He met all of our criteria and expectations. We looked at a number of people during the search process and kept coming back to Scott.”

Clearly Satterfield is able to see beyond the current difficulties, some seeming self-inflicted by the previous head coach, knowing what is possible at UofL.  “I want to compete for national championships one day. That’s what we’re going to be gunning for,” he said during introductory ceremonies.

“To be able to come and coach at this kind of a university to compete for championships, I can’t turn that down at this point in my career. This is what we’ve been shooting for.”

Welcome to Louisville, Scott Satterfield.