Author Archive: Charlie Springer
Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.
Seems like a long time ago when Kevin Ware broke his leg in that NCAA basketball game against Duke, becoming a celebrity around the world. A lot of things have changed for Ware in a time span of two years.
Ware dropped off the University of Louisville basketball team after playing in nine games during the 2013-14. After receiving approval from the NCAA for a medical redshirt, he returned home to Atlanta to recuperate. He joined the Georgia State University program for the 2014-15 season.
Quite an adjustment for Ware, playing in the 3,500-seat GSU Arena, where the average attendance is 1,709 fans per game. He’s happy to be back on the court, wanting to be known for his basketball abilities, not the guy who broke his leg on national television. But his celebrity has followed him to his new location.
“A lot of people want to talk to me about my injury or they will just stare at me, so sadly yes, but I don’t let it go to my head,” he said during a recent interview.
His number 5 sold a lot of UofL shirts after the injury, but he wearing a zero this season. “I wanted to be the number 5 when I came here, but I think it is retired so it was only right that I chose 0 for a fresh start. Next year, I will probably take over 55.”
Ware, classified as a redshirt junior, is a backup guard, averaging 7.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per outing after 29 games. He scored eight points in Georgia State’s most recent game, a 78-69 win over Troy.
Georgia State, which a 13-5 conference record, is currently is a three-way tie for first place in the Sun Belt Conference, sharing the spot with Louisiana-Monroe and Georgia Southern. They will play at Louisiana-Monroe Thursday and host Georgia Southern on Saturday.
Among his teammates is Ryan Harrow, a much-discussed guard on Kentucky’s 2013 NIT team. He’s the team’s leading scorer, averaging 20.3 points per game.
One of two flyover ramps for the emerging Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Park on the University of Louisville campus appears to be nearly ready for use near Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The preliminary work for the park includes $31 million in road construction improvements funded by the UofL Foundation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. An integral part of this project will be the southern entrance to the campus:
The Virginia women’s basketball team turned in the game of a decade Sunday, walking away with a shocking 72-59 upset over the University of Louisville. Someone or something had ratcheted the Cavaliers up to another level.
Emotionally charged from the beginning, the ACC upstarts were riding high on a combination of adrenaline forces. They had lost five of their last six games, they were playing the No. 8 team in the country, and it was Senior Day for a team with a 7-9 record in the conference.
Add to this a massive amount of muscle and bulk and some uncharacteristic shooting accuracy, and the UofL women were in trouble from the beginning. Also helpful were Virginia’s 27 of 33 attempts at the free throw line, compared to 15 of 21 for UofL. An ambush lay in store for anyone who played the Cavaliers in Charlottesville Sunday.
Louisville trailed by only one point at halftime but only because it is a very good basketball team. Usually the law of averages will catch up with emotionally-hyped teams, but Virginia was unaffected, continuing to connect on a variety of circus shots during the second 20 minutes.
Emmonnie Henderson would keep the Cardinals close in the second half when she scored eight of her team high 13 points. At one point, she would emerge from a scramble under the basket, pulling the ball out of the hands of a fallen Virginia player and tossing it in the basket.
The UofL women managed to hang with the Cavaliers until Emmonnie Henderson collected her fifth foul at the 5:55 mark, with her team trailing by five points. UofL would never seriously contend after her departure.
No one could blame the UofL coaching staff for tossing the game film in the circular file. Or for salivating for another shot at this Virginia team in the ACC tournament.
Not the first rodeo for Rick Pitino, losing a player to self-inflicted wounds, his team forced to make adjustments, backed into a corner, challenged by adversity, seeking to remain relevant.
Never expect a Pitino-coached team to quietly fade away or throw in the towel under the worst of circumstance. “We don’t do that,” he said after the University of Louisville’s 81-59 win Florida State at Tallahassee.
Pitino did finally get what he has wanted from his team all season long — players listening, playing together, sharing the ball, banging the boards, and playing aggressive defense on both ends of the court. No hints of self pity, wounded egos, self-indulgence or pouting.
Quite the opposite, in fact, players having fun while methodically putting an opponent away. The highlight, probably the steal by Terry Rozier, throwing the basketball the length of the court for another thundering Montrezl Harrell dunk.
— A career day for Rozier with a total of nine assists, almost half of Louisville’s 20 assists, stepping up in that department at the right time. More than compensating for his mediocre shooting, three of 14 attempts for 10 points. Adding a much-needed dimension to his game at a crucial time in the season.
“I think that the thing that I loved about tonight’s performance — because Rozier wasn’t doing this early in the year — if he had a bad night offensively, it was affecting the facets of his game,” said Pitino. “Tonight he has nine assists, six steals and just played a great point guard’s game. He missed some shots that normally go in for him, and he didn’t let it bother him.
— This also may have been the game when Anton Gill finally got comfortable with the college game, going four of four from behind the three-point line, five of five overall, for 14 points in 12 minutes. More playing time straight ahead, Anton.
— One never wants to draw conclusions about whether a different Wayne Blackshear has shown up or not. But a possible indication may have been the sight of Blackshear flashing a rare smile during that second half. Blackshear driving the lane, creating shots on his own, not resisting or hesitating, knowing it has to come from him. Good for a game-high 18 points.
— Quentin Snider bringing back an approach at guard that encourages teammates to keep moving without the ball, an awareness, knowing that they will all be involved in the offense. Gaining confidence with 11 points and four assists in his third game as a starter.
— Montrezl Harrell maintaining high levels of energy, whether he’s on offense or defense, with 16 points and a steal. UofL will need more than four rebounds from him next week, however.
— Chinanu Onuaku, getting open, actually making two dunks. We saw that one of yours, too, Mangok Mathiang. A few more will go a long way, guys.
Anyone who wrote this team off after this past week needs to brush up on Rick Pitino’s history of dealing with adversity. He has written three books on the topic and knows whereof he speaks.
Little evidence of the doom and gloom that hovered over Belknap Campus most of the day. KFC Yum! Center was the place to be for people wanting to put all that behind them.
Senior Night for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. Tears all around but they were on happy faces, treasuring some great memories and many high points during their collective career. A time to honor seniors Jude Schimmel, Sara Hammond, Bria Smith, Shawnta’ Dyer and Sheronne Vails.
Some 10,488 fans showed up for the occasion, which was also Native American Night, attracting Schimmel fans from distant places, many clad in Schimmel T-shirts and native garb.
A time to celebrate a team that has exceeded all expectations this season, with a 24-4 overall record and 12-3 in their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The five seniors would be the starting lineup, racing out to a 14-6 lead in the first seven minutes before Myisha Hines-Allen subbed for Vails. They were also all in for the final minutes, until Coach Jeff Walz made a mass substitution to allow the seniors a standing ovation at the 1:14 mark.
Jude Schimmel, with approximately 20 members of family from Oregon in attendance, was clearly enjoying the game, that smile of hers lighting up the arena. Jude would have 11 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals in her final game on Denny Crum Court.
Shawnta Dyer continued her winning ways, scoring her team’s first six points and finishing with 13 points and six rebounds. Two blocks for Sara Hammond to go with four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
UofL led by as many as 26 points midway in the second half, paced by Mariya Moore with her game high 18 points. So much promise for UofL women’s basketball, a little sad for many saying goodbye to these seniors but a good way to end the day.
Click on photos to see slide show:
The charges delivering the final blow to Chris Jones’ career have finally been made public. Almost as bad as could have been expected, he has been arrested for allegedly raping one woman and sodomizing another female.
Just hours after he had helped his University of Louisville basketball team get past Miami on Saturday. One day after being reinstated to the team, having been suspended for six days.
No excuse for his behavior if the alleged crimes did occur. Growing up in a rough part of Memphis does not rationalize such behavior, no more than being raised in some parts of Louisville. Or Lexington, for that matter.
Jones had it good at the University of Louisville, a dream existence playing for a Hall of Fame coach, with one of the top college basketball programs, and one of the most supportive fan bases in America. A program in which the values of mutual respect and personal integrity are placed at a premium. The desire of the individual second, the values first.
For whatever reason, Jones couldn’t embrace those principles. He could give it lip service, but only fleetingly, when it served him to do so
Some fans sympathized with a player originally suspended for sending a threatening text to a girl friend for trashing his living quarters. What was he supposed to do? How would anyone react to that? Honestly. He didn’t have legal counsel to advise him not to text the perpetrator?
With the latest alleged behavior, however, he totally trashed his reputation and any goodwill that remained. If the charges are true, he violated two young women, he hurt his teammates and coaching staff, embarrassed the program, the school and the fans. All of whom wanted only the best for him.
Chris Jones is on his own now, with only a lawyer to fend for him. That’s a sad place to be.
* * *
Sports Information Director Kenny Klein issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“On Feb. 17 while at a team dinner, Coach Rick Pitino was informed of a text message sent by Chris Jones to another individual. Chris was removed from the dinner table, immediately suspended from the team. After the matter was addressed within the university and Chris surrendered his cell phone, he was permitted to return to the team on Feb. 19 with strict internal disciplinary measures attached, among which included a curfew. It was discovered shortly after noon on Feb. 22 that Chris had violated a curfew and there were other accusations, without knowing specifics. At that time, Chris was immediately dismissed from the team.
“While Chris is no longer a member of our team, we understand that the allegations are very serious. While we cannot comment on this ongoing investigation, we certainly expect our student-athletes to uphold certain standards, including their treatment of others. We have great respect for the legal process and our university procedures and we will cooperate as requested with this matter.”
On a positive note, an ongoing source of major distractions to the team has been removed.