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 …”

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.

Malik Williams quietly efficient, Louisville downs Notre Dame

Christen Cunningham wrapping up his one and only season but always a Cardinal with 14 points on Senior Day (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).
Malik Williams bringing his game on defense against Notre Dame’s John Mooney. Turning in his best game of the year with his third double-double (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Malik Williams has had more than his share of criticism  of a perceived lack of quality at the center position. An issue taking a toll on the fortunes of  University of Louisville basketball.

There was little for anyone to find fault with Williams’ performance in UofL’s 75-61 win over Notre Dame on Sunday. None of those questionable shots, none of those awkward turnovers, no reason to throw up one hands in frustration.

Pretty much going unnoticed while turning in what may have been the best game of the 6-foot-11 sophomore’s career. Playing within the system, turning in his third double-double of the season, contributing 16 points and 13 rebounds.  

V. J. King with an encouraging performance, with 10 rebounds, 6 points and 2 assists (Cindy Rice Stephens photo).

Connecting on six out of seven field goal attempts, none of them flirting with NBA-type distances behind the 3-point arc. Making all of his free throws, four of four from the foul line, thank you.

Letting the game come to him while enabling Jordan Nwora and Christen Cunningham to do their things. Nwora with his own double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Cunningham with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Also showing welcome signs of progress was V. J. King. The 6-foot-6 junior bringing it on defense and contributing a career-best 10 rebounds to go with six points and two assists. No turnovers either in a performance that had to be personally encouraging for him. Not to be overlooked was Darius Perry with nary a turnover to go with seven points and two rebounds.

Not one of those epic UofL-Notre Dame games, often resulting in multiple overtimes. Not a great Irish team to be honest. But a good game for the Cardinals, something to build on for a change.

Nice to be back in the win column, support players being supportive, making noticeable differences, playing their roles.

Senior Day images from Cindy Rice Shelton.

Oh, what a night for Asia Durr, Louisville women’s basketball

Asia Durr doing what she does, putting up one 3-pointer after another on a record-tying night with 47 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).
ust another amazing night for Asia Durr on Senior Night, scoring 47 points to tie her previous high game mark (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Asia Durr came to celebrate her fabulous four-year career with the University of Louisville women’s basketball team on Thursday night at the KFC Yum! Center. Senior Night for her, and another crowning jewel for 10,610 UofL fans.

This will be another one of those nights that will stand out long after Asia Durr has moved on, a crushing 92-62 defeat of 10th ranked North Carolina State. Ranking right behind milestone wins over UConn and Notre Dame over the last two seasons. 

Tears all round as Asia, Sam Fuehring and Arica Carter are escorted to the court for Senior Night ceremonies. Parents, coaches, teammates and fans so proud of what the young ladies have accomplished. A special senior class leading the way to a remarkable 26-2 record overall and 13-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The tears would turn to expressions of exuberance shortly thereafter. Asia would miss her first field goal attempt but connect on eight of her next 10 shots, including seven 3-pointers for an amazing 22  points in the first quarter. 

She was far from done, however, making 17 of 27 shots for the night, including 11 3-pointers, for a total of 47 points. The mark tied her previous high of 47 points in UofL’s opening game against Ohio State during the 2017-18 season. The 11 3-pointers setting a new Atlantic Coast Conference record.

Asia, with that smile of hers, crediting her teammates for finding her open time after time, making such a happy ending possible. “This is about much more than Asia Durr,” she said. “I love this team, I love my teammates.”

Gallery by  Cindy Rice Shelton

 

 

Former UofL football player Cameron in race for Attorney General

The odds of Louisville having a friendly face in Frankfort will be significantly enhanced if Daniel Cameron is successful. He’s running for the post of Kentucky Attorney General on the Republican ticket in May.

Cameron is a former University of Louisville football player, earning a Bachelor’s degree as a McConnell Scholar in political science  and a law degree from the UofL Brandeis School of Law. He was selected by the University to give one of the student commencement speeches at the 2011 graduation ceremony.

He  became a Cardinals’ fan after his parents moved to Elizabethtown from Alabama in his youth. “They were the team in our back yard and it was easy to root for them 30 minutes down the road,” said Cameron, who was born in Plano, Texas. 

One of his fondest UofL memories was the football team’s appearance in the 2007 Orange Bowl. Cameron was a freshman that season, playing at safety and on special teams under Coach Bobby Petrino. “At that time, he was seen as someone with a great offensive mind and a great X’s and O’s coach, somebody who paid a lot of attention to detail,” recalls Cameron. “Winning that game was one of the biggest milestones in UofL football history.”

Cameron would also play under Coach Steve Kragthorpe whom he said “seemed like a great guy but it just didn’t work out for him.”

Daniel Cameron gives on of the student commencement speeches at UofL’s 2011 graduation ceremonies.

He said he also benefited greatly from some challenging experiences at UofL’s McConnell Center. “I was able to do both because there were a lot of gracious folks in the football office and the McConnell Center,” he said. “I remember having to miss a football practice because of an academic event, and Coach Petrino told me to tell McConnell to keep the lid on gasoline prices or something to that effect.”

Later, as legal counsel to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in Washington, Cameron would accompany McConnell on some trips to Louisville for several football games. “He rarely misses a football game, he’s an avid follower and an avid attender,” he said. “The only reason he misses is if there’s something really important going on in Congress.”

Daniel Cameron tackles Pete Nochta during a 2007 practice session. Nochta is now a recruiting coordinator for the Louisville football team.

Before going to Washington for more than two years, Cameron was an attorney with the firm of Stites & Harbison. He’s now with Frost, Brown & Todd, one of the most prestigious law firms in the region.

Cameron says he is running for the office of Attorney General “because it is the best platform from which to confront the public safety challenge of our lifetime: the drug epidemic,” he said. “I’ve seen too many families torn apart by drug abuse. The Attorney General should be the leading voice in confronting this challenge.”

Cameron believes the office has been overly politicized by Andy Beshear, the current occupant who has often clashed with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, suing him multiple times for his use of executive authority.

One of the Beshear’s lawsuits led to a temporary reversal of Bevin’s appointments to the University of Louisville Board of Trustees. The turmoil that followed the Beshear’s challenge is credited by some as a major factor in UofL being placed on academic probation for a year.

Daniel Cameron, wearing No. 31, with position players at UofL in 2007.

“The last four years Andy has spent a lot of time sort of prioritizing being the opposition to the Governor,” he said. “Some of the things he has involved himself have been driven specific policy view. He has used his office in many ways to be the chief legislative officer and the chief policy officer as opposed to being the chief law enforcement officer.  

“I want to return the Attorney General’s Office to being the chief law enforcement office,” he continued. “The No. 1 issue in terms of public safety  challenge is the drug epidemic. The Attorney General needs to be the driving force on that issue. The number of drug overdoses in Kentucky has been devastating. The AG needs to use the bully pulpit to getting all of the law enforcement agencies working on the same page .”

Cameron believes resolving the drug crisis in Kentucky will have to include contributions from all segments of society, including the universities and other agencies. He is pleased with with the new leadership under Neeli Bendapudi at the University of Louisville, and said he looks forward to working with education leaders as well on drug issues.

“We’re in it to win, and we’re prepared to tackle the immense challenges that come with the plague that is disrupting so many lives,” he said.