Louisville baseball is back, lighting up a dark day

Josh Stowers is greeted by his teammates after scoring the third of UofL four runs in the second inning (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A dark day in the University of Louisville sports history, but a beautiful day for baseball. Coach Dan McDonnell ushering in the 2018 home season, reason to cheer again, reminding fans only one sport was affected by NCAA bungling.

Brian Hoeing gets off to a rocky start but hangs on for first win (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A crowd of 2,535 showing up for game against Eastern Kentucky, the first game under the paid admissions structure. Temperatures reaching the 80’s, 300 more people on hand than attended last year’s opener free in equally nice weather.

Right hander Brian Hoeing, getting the mid-week start, notching his first win of the season despite giving up four bases on balls and three hits in four-and-a-half innings.  Sam Bordner would shut down the Colonels one-two-three on strikeouts in the ninth to get his second save of the season.

The firepower was provided by junior Devin Mann with two singles for the game, one of them driving in the two deciding runs in the second inning. Sophomore Ethan Stringer doubled to open the inning and scored on a single by classmate Drew Campbell.

The long wait is over, and UofL is 4-0 after the first week of the season. More of an attraction than a distraction for UofL fans, lots of new faces in the lineup and much to look forward to if the past is any predictor of the future. 

NCAA finally acts, UofL can resume journey again

The worst possible outcome.

The ultimate indignity of the result of Andre McGee’s actions has become a reality with the NCAA’s decision that the University of Louisville must take down the 2013 NCAA banner. 

Any official references to UofL’s third national championship must be removed from the playing facilities and future media guides. And the athletic department is subject to a $600,000 fine. 

The irritating thing about running afoul of NCAA restrictions is the time involved in the investigative process. The revelation about McGee was made in October 2015, making UofL subject to all kinds of ridicule and angst for almost two-and-a-half years. Agonizing and unnecessary.

Small wonder that many Louisville fans feel a sense of relief now that the NCAA has announced the punishment. The legal process is flawed, the punishment is not justified, and the NCAA has once again suffered a self-inflicted blow to its credibility.

The problems within the NCAA that are reflective of what have been happening with higher education over several decades. So much competition, jealousy, arrogance in a class system of universities. They preach publicly about “fairness and equality” while crushing institutions and athletic programs for the actions of one or two individuals.

It never mattered that the University of Louisville tried to do the right thing, self-imposing an NCAA tournament ban, reducing its recruiting budget and the number of scholarships. This was a chance for a group of officials from other schools within the NCAA to throw the book at another school. Especially gratifying to them because UofL’s growth had been so phenomenal over the past decade.

UofL will recover and move on from this, much stronger from all of the trials and indignities. Louisville alumni and fans have been through a lot but the vast majority of them will remain supportive and loyal. 

The athletic department has hit bottom, and there’s nowhere to go but up from here. It begins here. Now.

Ron Lasley, aka 4evercard, was an icon among UofL fans

Ron Lasley’s voice will be missed as the University of Louisville moves forward.

Good to have known you, 4evercard.

Ron Lasley, one of the best University of Louisville fans it has been one’s privilege to know, left this earth on Friday after a lingering illness and a lifetime love affair with UofL athletics.  A huge loss for the University and for everyone who was warmed by his positive spirit.

He was a giver, someone who cared for other people, an individual who had a gift of making other people feel better about the world and about themselves. He was a reminder of the days when people of different backgrounds and beliefs could communicate amicably with each other. 

A season ticket holder for decades, Ron would rarely miss a UofL basketball or football game, often attending  baseball, women’s basketball and volleyball competition.  He was a generous giver, always among the first to contribute to projects like the football stadium, the indoor practice facility, and the expansion of Jim Patterson Stadium.

Ron was a frequent contributor to local UofL fan message boards for over two decades, earning high marks from fellow fans for his insightful comments at Cardinal Authority, Inside The Ville and the Louisville Sports Report. As “4evercard,” he was among the most popular commenters on the boards.

Not only was his knowledge of basketball obvious, but he had a way of providing insights in a way that was always constructive, respectful and optimistic. He loved talking Louisville sports, and he was on the message boards day and night, responding to numerous threads.

No one ever heard anyone say anything negative about Ron, nor Ron about anyone else.

As the writer of his obituary noted, “No one ever heard anyone say anything negative about Ron, nor Ron about anyone else.”

One of his best friends was Wiley Brown, who played on UofL’s 1980 NCAA championship basketball team. They would meet for lunch often at the Hoops Restaurant next door to Lasley’s Salemaker Carts business in South Louisville. He remained a mentor to Winston Bennett, a former UofL ball boy, even after Bennett shocked him by signing with the University of Kentucky.

The very last UofL game Ron watched was the women’s basketball team against UConn from his hospital bed last Monday. Unfortunately for Ron, they lost the game but he would be looking forward to seeing them again in post-season play.

Ron was among the giants in UofL’s fan base, and he will be missed.

Visitation will be Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ratterman Funeral home, 7336 Southside Drive. Funeral Wednesday at 11 a.m. with burial following at Cave Hill Cemetery.

Louisville still looking for take charge guy after North Carolina loss

Best crowd of the season, 21,210 fans for the Louisville-North Carolina game at the KFC Yum! Center (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

University of Louisville basketball fans, bless their hearts, hoping for the return of the good times. An electric atmosphere, a white out game, a crowd of 21,210 on hand at the KFC Yum! Center. Ready to make some magic happen.

The frenzied throng would will their team back from an early deficit of 19 points only to  see UofL fall short time and time again. Unable to handle the pass, make the play, grab the rebound or make the shot that would have put the game on the line.

Deng Adel missing on this shot but leading UofL with 20 points and six assists (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A team seemingly unable to match the enthusiasm or confidence of its fans. Unable to make shots within point blank range, blowing all kinds of layups. Not a threat on the offensive boards, getting outscored 22-6 on second chance points.

Missing from UofL was a lack of any defensive presence in the 93-76 loss to North Carolina. The Cardinals unable to sustain any intensity on the defensive end, allowing the Tar Heels to make almost 50% of their shots.

As in UofL’s previous eight losses, fans looking for someone to provide some positive energy — take over a game, provide some leadership, refuse to lose — would be disappointed. The leadership doesn’t seem to be there, either from an individual or collective basis, verbally or by example. 

The latest loss occurring after impressive wins over two of the worst teams in the conference, dashing any hopes that UofL had turned any corners. Exposing the Cardinals, and their biggest weakness, still looking for leadership with four games to go in the regular season. 

 

Her conversion to UofL

First date was a University of Louisville football game, Memphis the opponent, snowing that night, Lee Corso coaching, John Madeya taking the snaps for UofL.

day-of-hearts

Little did she know this would be first of many Louisville football games, as well as basketball and baseball, to follow over the years if she continued to tolerate the observer. Spring games, scrimmages, groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, memorabilia, prints, face paint, car flags, Cardinal gear, women’s games, soccer, day trips, caravans, NCAA tournaments, bowl games … and 11 football coaches.

She was attending the University of Kentucky at the time, drawing the observer to Lexington two or three times a week. After dining and wining her on a Valentine’s Day at the Campbell House in Lexington. the observer would get up the nerve to propose, but have to wait two or three weeks for her response. She would finally said yes, thankfully, and his life would never be the same.

Initially a UK fan, she would switch her allegiance completely to the Cardinals after two or three years, coming to share the observer’s passion for UofL in what has become a decades-long experience.

Flowers, candy, a card, dinner and maybe a movie as she enjoys a day off from work. Happy Valentine’s Day to all.