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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.

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ACC about more than athletics for Louisville

April 25, 2015 0 Comments

Always has been.

More than 100 ACC representatives are being hosted by the University of Louisville through Tuesday to enhance communications between schools and  to explore best practices.

“Hosting this conference gives us a chance to showcase the University of Louisville’s incredible transformation to our new ACC partners,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “It is also a way for ACC institutions to share academic, research and administrative strategies.”

Some of the topics to be explored include:

— Strategic management of investment portfolios and traceability to cost of education

— Best practices in public relations, branding, marketing and crisis communications

— Sponsorship opportunities with key vendors

— Best practices in administrative/student service areas such as financial aid, bursar, budgeting, fiscal reporting, treasury management, procurement, accounts payable and research expenses

Conference sponsors are PNC Bank, Inc. and The Oracle Corporation, Learfield Sports, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Marriott International, Inc., BKD CPAs and Advisors, LLP, Sodexo, Inc., Maximus Higher Education Practice, Inc., Higher One, Inc., and Miller Transportation.

Pitino gets running start on 2015-16 Louisville basketball

April 23, 2015 0 Comments

Fascinating how things appear to have come together during Rick Pitino’s post-season revamping of the University of Louisville basketball program. The coach knew what he needed to do, getting it done in short order.

UofL announced the signing Thursday of Damion Lee, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound fifth-year senior transfer from Drexel University. Lee was the nation’s fourth-leading scorer last season, averaging 21.4 points, topping 20 points in 14 of his 27 games last season, including five performances with 30 or more points.

“Damion fills a big void for us in scoring,” said Pitino. “He’s also an outstanding defensive player and is terrific at the free throw line, which is also a great asset for our team.  He’s an outstanding young man with a great attitude.”

Lee joins Trey Lewis, a 6-foot-2 guard transfer from Cleveland State, who cast his lot with UofL a couple of weeks ago.  Lewis averaged 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season, collecting 30 points twice.

The 2015 recruiting class includes Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel, Raymond Spalding and Ryan McMahon.

*     *     *

Ralph Willard. He's back again.

Ralph Willard. He’s back .

Pitino also has persuaded Ralph Willard, his long time associate and close friend to join him again on the UofL bench. Willard’s 39 years in the industry include 19 years as a head basketball coach.

Willard served as head coach for four seasons at Western Kentucky (1990-94), five years at Pittsburgh (1994-99) and 10 at Holy Cross (1999-2009). He has coached with Pitino on three occasions, with the New York Knicks (1987-89), at Kentucky (1989-90) and at Louisville (2009-10), where he also served a year with the Cardinals as director of basketball operations (2010-11).

*     *    *

Just what the doctor ordered with so many new faces on the UofL roster. The Cardinals will play as many as six games against national teams from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic during a week-long trip to Puerto Rico in August.

 The Cardinals will face the Puerto Rico National Team, the Puerto Rico Junior National Team and the Dominican Republic National Team during their Aug. 10-17 visit to Puerto Rico.  The competition coincides with UofL Coach Rick Pitino’s decision to serve as the head coach of the Puerto Rico basketball team in two events this summer.

The international competition will give Pitino a jump-start on the 2015-16 college basketball season. Another run in the making, one can just feel it.

Nick Burdi’s baseball career delayed but earns top Louie Award

April 21, 2015 0 Comments

Celebrating another year on the field and in the classroom, the University of Louisville athletic department honored student-athletes Monday at the second annual Louies.

The adidas High Performance Athlete of the Year top honors were presented to Nick Burdi (baseball) and Kelsi Worrell (swimming and diving).

NIck Burdie was drafted by the MInnesota Twins in the MLB draft.

Nick Burdi was drafted by the MInnesota Twins in the MLB draft.

Burdi produced a 3-1 mark and a school-record 18 saves in 2014. In 37 innings, he had a 0.49 ERA and 65 strikeouts. He was first team All-America honors from four media outlets and was chosen 46th in the Major League Baseball draft – the highest pick in school history.

He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins but recently injured his left ankle in a jogging acccident, tripping over a curb after reporting to a minor-league baseball camp. “When he’s ready, we’ll get him out there,” said Joel Lepel, Twins minor league field coordinator.

Worrell won a pair of titles at this year’s NCAA swiming and diving championships, capturing victories in the 100-fly and 200-fly. She  earned All-America honors in five additional events and secured two individual conference titles.

Gerod Holliman (football) was the male recipient of the record-breaking performance following his NCAA-record tying mark of 14 interceptions, first set in 1968.

The football team had three other award honorees: Lorenzo Mauldin (inspiration), Brandon Radcliff (breakthrough athlete), and DeVante Parker (senior).

Women’s basketball’s Shawnta’ Dyer was named the comeback player of the year. The redshirt senior battled through countless injuries over the course of her career, missing time due to a foot injury, a torn ACL and MCL, and a stress fracture in her hip.

Sebastian Stiefelmeyer (men’s tennis) earned the award for best championship performance. The senior seized the outdoor Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championship in September, winning nine-consecutive matches for the title, including six upset victories.

Women’s golf’s Emily Haas also had a solid championship performance and collected the moment of the year award. The then-junior sank a 10-foot birdie in April 2014, delivering Louisville its fifth conference championship and edging UCF by one stroke. Haas finished runner-up.

The Cardinals’ field hockey team earned the upset of the year, beating top-ranked North Carolina 3-2 for the first ACC win in program history. Becca Maddock broke the tie with five minutes remaining for the program’s first win over a No. 1-ranked opponent.

Men’s basketball’s Wayne Blackshear and women’s lacrosse’s Monica Negron were honored with leadership awards.

Jude Schimmel continues to attract crowds

April 19, 2015 1 Comment
Jude Schimmel was kept busy signing books Sunday at the Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe.

Jude Schimmel was kept busy signing books Sunday at the Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe.

University of Louisville women’s basketball fans aren’t quite ready to let Jude Schimmel go, wanting to hang on to her as long as possible. They were scrunched together, between 200 and 300 people deep, in the Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe Sunday for two hours to see her.

The crowd wanted autographed copies of Dreamcatcher, her new book, and they were also eager to thank for her contributions during her four seasons at UofL. One of them, Paula Radmacher, brought two attractively bound scrapbooks and memorablia she had compiled to present to Jude. More than a few had purchased two or more books.

Jude plans to play  basketball overseas next fall.

Jude plans to play basketball overseas next fall.

Also in the crowd was the family of Justin Amlung, a former UofL pitching great. Justin’s dad revealed that his son had been picked by the Washington Nationals after being waived by the Chicago Cubs organization.

The book chronicles memories of her time with the UofL basketball team and of growing up on a Native American reservation. Especially interesting are her memories of her team’s upset of No. 1 Baylor during the 2013.  She has some great things to say about Coach Jeff Walz, too.

Jude published the book herself, hoping it will serve as an inspiration to other Native American children to pursue their dreams. Judging by the number of people buying two or three copies of the $20 book, she may have earned enough to pay for the printing already.

Paula Radmacher presents scrapbooks to Jude Schimmel.

Paula Radmacher presents scrapbooks to Jude Schimmel of her UofL career.

Choosing to stand during the entire event, Jude was in no hurry, taking time to chat with each fan, thanking them for supporting her and the UofL basketball team, clearly enjoying her time in a different format.

Jude says she wants to finish her Master’s degree at UofL so she will be around through August. Then she plans to play basketball overseas.

The book can be purchased for $20 here. Caution, some fans may be tempted to acquire numerous copies of the book. Dreamcatch

 

Dramatic finale, Louisville baseball sweeps Wake Forest

April 18, 2015 0 Comments
Corey Ray crosses the plate in a 10-1 win over Wake Forest in the first game.

Corey Ray crosses the plate in a 10-1 victory for Louisville over Wake Forest in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader.. He would steal home in the bottom of the ninth inning to give UofL a  come-from-behind 6-5 win in the second game.

This University of Louisville baseball team may have something special going for it this season but don’t expect it to happen without lots of drama. Great pitching, average hitting, the Cardinals will be tested frequently.

A weekend sweep of Wake Forest appeared almost certain for UofL entering the eighth inning with a 4-0 lead. That was before the visiting Demon Deacons into three highly touted UofL relievers for five hits and five runs.

Josh Rogers had held Wake Forest to two hits before departing in the eighth but left without a chance for the win with Jake Sparger, Robert Strader and Nick Burdi discovering why Wake Forest is the best hitting team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The shocker a three-run home by pinch hitter Kevin Jordan against Burdi, of all people, giving the Deacons their first lead all weekend.

Bottom of the ninth. Uh oh. Sutton Whiting grounds out, looking bleak.

Logan Taylor comes through with a perfect bunt down the third base line, beating the throw, stealing second. Corey Ray is intentionally walked. Brendan McKay singles loading the bases.

Zach Lucas lines out to short stop. Two outs.

A wild pitch gets away from the catcher. Logan dashes home, tying the game, 5-5, and Ray advances to third base.

Next pitch. What’s going on? What’s Ray doing? He’s attempting to steal home, racing the pitch to the plate. It’s  a tie, Ray sliding head first in the plate. He’s out and the game goes into extra innings. But no, the ball popping out of the catcher’s mitt. Ray has stolen home, the game is over, and UofL has won the game.

Quite a contrast from the first game won by Louisville 10-1. Ray’s heroics have clinched still another sweep, the fifth series sweep against Atlantic Coast Competition competition this season. UofL is 19-2 in the ACC and 30-9 overall.

More drama to come. At Cincinnati on Tuesday, home against Western Kentucky University on Wednesday, a three-game series against Bethune-Cookman next weekend. UofL resumes ACC play with a three-game series at Clemson on May 2nd.

23,187 celebrate football at Louisville spring game

April 17, 2015 0 Comments
Jeremy Smith sees daylight and paydirt during the University of Louisville spring game.

Jeremy Smith (34) sees daylight, scampering to the end zone during the University of Louisville football team’s spring game.

A balmy 70 degrees. A perfect night at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the University of Louisville spring football game and everything that goes with it.

The die-hard tail gaters showing up early to claim prime spots at the front of the Green Lot. Grills glowing, beer flowing, one more chance to celebrate, an occasion for serious football people and party lovers before the long hot summer, Septemberfivemonths away. Some 23,187 fans happy to be together again, enjoying the UofL camaraderie.

carnivalLots of children, too, making B lines to the carnival rides, the tilt-a-whirl, the merry-go-round, the bumper cars, and the whack-a-mole. Their parents gorging on a cornucopia of fried food delights, the funnel cakes, elephant ears, caramel apples, corn dogs and, my favorite, the heavily-salted fried potato ribbons.

The event would also enable fans to see such former UofL greats as Deion Branch, Omobi Okoye, and Brian Brohm presenting team awards to the graduating seniors. Gerard Holliman, with his NCAA record-tying 14 interceptions, being selected as the Most Valuable Player during the 2014 season.

The main attraction, of course, was the Red-White scrimmage, featuring the first-team offense against the second-team defense. Really no contest with the Red team dominating the game, 59-0.

Starting quarterback Reggie Bonnafon looking much more confident and certain of what he was doing from the start, completing 15 of 19 passes for 238 yards, including a touchdown. James Quick was his favorite, pulling in seven receptions and 117 yards.

Kyle Bolin switched from the White team to the Red team in the second half, immediately enjoying more success, completing eight of 11 passing attempts, including touchdown passes to Ja’Quay Savage and 34 yards to Dontez Byrd.

Running back Brandon Radcliff, who will be a junior, was back to his old elusive self with 57 yards and three touchdowns. Jeremy Smith, a junior college transfer with three years of eligibility, was the leading rusher with 58 yards on 10 carries.

UofL has plenty of spots to fill on a defense that ranked in the top 10 last season, but the Red squad provided some hope by holding the White squad to just 33 rushing yards. Henry Famurewa, Chucky Williams, Jarrod Barnes andPio Vatuvei each had five tackles. Famurewa had two sacks and 2 1/2 tackles for loss.

Nice not having to be concerned about the outcome of the game. Great to have one more night of UofL football.

WHAS torpedoes once-popular Louisville sports talk show

April 16, 2015 8 Comments

Interesting that WHAS Radio is doing away with the sports talk radio show between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. after more than 30 years, especially at a time when sports talk appears to be enjoying enormous popularity.

The station announced Wednesday that Mandy Connell, who left Louisville last year to do a general talk show in Denver, will replacing Lachlan McLean, who is leaving the station in May. Connell previously held down a 9 a.m. to noon time slot, discussing a wide variety of issues and she will do her new show from Denver. Her new time slot in Louisville will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Van Vance made sports talk radio popular in Louisville.

Van Vance made sports talk radio popular in Louisville.

The show was a personal favorite of mine, I rarely missed it during the 15 or so years Van Vance was the host. Van was so easy going, allowing callers to express their views, rarely interrupting them or cutting them off. He was especially knowledgeable about University of Louisville athletics, simultaneously serving as the UofL play-by-play man. He retired in 1999 and was succeeded by Tony Cruise until Tony was picked to be the host of the morning drive host.

McLean became the sports talk personality in 2004, bringing with an often abrasive style that he believed was required for the job.  He was often argumentative with listeners, criticizing their opinions, and often resorting to cutting them short and hanging up on them. He also employed an approach intended to deliberately antagonize listeners, especially when it came to the UofL-UK rivalry.

McLean also appeared to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing University of Kentucky sports. I say “appeared” because I quit listening to the show several years ago because he was so negative. He was suspended by the station for two weeks in 2007 for reading a UK fan’s malicious poem about a UofL football player’s legal problems. McLean also had a paid segment of the show devoted to UK sports.

I have no statistics to back this up but it was probably his attentiveness to UK sports, at the expense of UofL, which drove many listeners away from the show. This combined with the growing number of locally-oriented sports talk shows on other stations and the fact that WHAS sold exclusive rights to Kentucky over UofL has never been received well in Louisville.

Mandy Connell is well versed on many topics, including local sports, and should have an entertaining show. But WHAS has lost a sizeable segment of audience for the time slot that may never return.

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