Fearless predictions for 2019 Louisville football season

By Ed Peak

Yes. I got way too excited last year thinking about the 2018 college football season. I predicted 10-2 for Louisville, which heralded “Speed City” on the cover of the media guide.

The only speed I saw was how fast Athletic Director Vince Tyra got Bobby Petrino and run his mess out out of town. You know the stories too well. Whether the team quit on Bobby or Bobby quit on the team. Debatable.

I got 10 but in the wrong column. Barely got victories over Division I-A Indiana State and Western Kentucky. It was a long frustrating season for Card Nation. The Cardinals were hard pressed to stop anyone. Heck, the defense, which returns eight starters, gave up 50 points, seven times.

Offensively, Louisville never settled on its starting quarterback. Junior Jawon Pass and sophomore Malik Cunngham exchanged good and bad games as they flipped in and out of the starting lineup.

Enough about the worst season in Cardinal football. Let’s take a brief look at the upcoming season. First year coach Scott Satterfield started changing the culture around the program the day he arrived. Had to, it was so bad.

A proven winner at Appalachian State of the Sun Belt Conference, the Mountaineers, won three straight conference titles and three bowl games.
The over under for wins this season is four. I think optimistically five is the number. Why? Louisville has talent and some grad players and transfers. Except for Notre Dame and Clemson, I don’t see any dominent teams on the schedule.

As bad as the Cardinals were, I think with a few breaks and some confidence building by the coaches in a new atmosphere, the Louisville can be competitive.

We will find out in the opener, Sunday, September 2nd, against the Irish. Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky in Nashville should be wins. Florida State in Tallahassee doesn’t scare teams like it used to do. Coach Willie Taggert is still finding his way in Seminole Country.

Boston College and at Wake Forest are winnable games. Clemson is not. The defending national champions come to The Ville looking for another title down the road. Virginia won’t be easy and Miami will have a first year head coach in Manny Diez.

North Carolina State is always tough in Raleigh. Syracuse had a breakout season last year. As usual rival Kentucky at Krogrer Field finishes the season. The Wildcats are better now, but who knows by the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

A 6-6 finish and a bowl game is asking a little much. But keep your fingers crossed. My prediction 5-7, with wins over Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, Boston College, Syracuse, and Wake Forest. Losses to Notre Dame, Clemson, Miami, North Carolina State, and (gag) Kentucky. Florida State is a toss-up.

The long grind back to respectability for UofL football begins this season.

Tough times make for better Louisville baseball in post-season play

By Ed Peak

There are certain things I know about this University of Louisville baseball team. I know it is not coach Dan McDonnell’s best or most talented in his 13 seasons. This Cardinal team has had more than its share of ups and downs.

There was so much drama in Monday's game I had to turn my radio broadcast off at work.

Getting just four hits and scoring two runs in two Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament losses last week clearly signaled a red flag. After a sluggish win Friday over UIC in the first NCAA Tournament game, Illinois State beat the Cardinals to send the No. 7 overall seed into the losers bracket. They would hang on for a two-run win over Indiana on Sunday.

UofL lost top reliever Michael McAvene to an ejection with two outs in the ninth inning against IU when he questioned umpire Ken Langford’s call of a pitch. He did not get a warning, he got ejected. Umpires sometimes overreact. Players sometime overreact. He will sit out three more games. That’s the rule, fair or not.

Dan McDonnell has had plenty of success but says it has never come easily.

There was so much drama in Monday’s game I had to turn the radio broadcast off at work. When Louisville went up 3-1, I thought this might be in the bag. But a line drive mishandled by Trey Leonard in centerfield was deemed a three base error. The next batter singled and the game was tied 3-3. Nothing came easy in the Regional.

“It shouldn’t come easy,” said McDonnell. “All of these teams have done something that has gotten them here. I talk all the time about toughness. Everything in life isn’t going to be easy, go the way you think it should. The same on the baseball field.”

The thing that impresses me most about this team is its mental toughness. It is team-first driven. These players seem to really care for each other. A lot of that had to do with McDonnell and the way he coaches and the kind of person he is.

When was the last time you heard a Louisville player in trouble off the field or discipline for an off the field problem. Never. Athletes and coaches a like have egos. Bigger than most people. They are sure of their abilities beyond belief sometimes. 

What also impresses me is the Louisville players are classy, short on ego.  No, they aren’t perfect and they’re not choir boys. Just look at some of  players that have gone to play professionally. A long list, including Brenden McKay, Will Smith, Drew Ellis, Zack Burdi, Corey Ray, Nick Solak, Chris Dominguez. I’m sure I’ve left some names out but the list is impressive.

Toughness and class abound in the McDonnell’s baseball program, and UofL will continue to reap the benefits in post-season play.

NCAA overlooks UofL baseball’s early exit from ACC tourney

Coach Dan McDonnell with media reps at Monday’s press conference in the Omaha Room at Jim Patterson Stadium (Photo by Ed Peak).

By Ed Peak

The University of Louisville had four days to rid itself of a flat performance in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Monday’s announcement of the Cardinals as the No. 7 national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament provided still more relief.

UofL (43-15) will play Illinois Chicago (29-21) in an opening round game Friday, 6 p.m. at Jim Patterson Stadium. Indiana (36-21) will play Illinois State (34-24) at 2 p.m.

The Cardinals must thank their lucky stars the selection committee took into account the entire season or body of work. Several factors helped the Cardinals get a national seed, including a tough non conference schedule and the fact that eight ACC teams made the field.

The Cards have non conference wins over NCAA invitees Mississippi, Indiana and Cincinnati. Duke and North Carolina State were sweeps in the ACC and two of three series wins over Miami and Florida State. A loss to Vanderbilt, the No. 2 overall in the tournament didn’t hurt their RPI.
Also helpful was Louisville’s recent success in NCAA play.

“I tried to tell them don’t get caught up in the national seed. That’s for the second round,” said coach Dan McDonnell. “You just have to focus on the first round. I think it’s one of the greatest accomplishments in college baseball to be selected to host a regional.

“I congratulated them. Now let’s play good baseball and let’s see who we’re matched up with Friday night. Anything past that your wasting energy and your wasting time. Let’s focus on what we can control and that’s who we play Friday night.”

Early exit for Cinderellas in 2019 NCAA basketball tourney

Was this the year a mid-major would crash the NCAA men’s basketball final four ? Depending on which talking head you listened to, a Cinderella was inevitable.

Surprise, surprise, as the field is narrowed to 16: No Loyola of Chicago and Sister Jean. No Butler University. No Murray State. No Northeastern. No Wofford. Few upsets. No mid- majors to be found.

Check the four regionals and its chalk city baby. The East, Duke versus Virginia Tech and Louisiana State versus Michigan State. The West is true to form with Gonzaga playing Florida State and Texas Tech going against Michigan.

The Midwest Region has North Carolina playing Auburn and Houston playing Kentucky. Better have P.J. Washington for this one. The Wildcats won with defense against Wofford. The Cougars and Kelvin Sampson can score.

Louisville and the KFC Yum! Center host the South Region this week. Top-seeded Virginia gets a break against  No. 12 Oregon. Purdue and Tennessee will clash in other matchup.

Midnight has come and gone, and Cinderella has gone back to scrubbing floors.

Walz has front row seat across street, Louisville women roll in NCAA opener

Sam Fuehring in top photo and Asia Durr sharing scoring honors with 19 points apiece in UofL’s opening NCAA win (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Jeff Walz watching the game on the big screen at a restaurant across the street, having been suspended for comments following the University of Louisville’s loss in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament last season.

Not the place he wanted to be but Walz had to be ecstatic following UofL’s 69-34 spanking of Robert Morris in this year’s opening round at the KFC Yum! Center. Robert Morris had no chance. No answers for an intimidating performance by Louisville.

Stephanie Norman does her job, winning the opening game in the NCAA. Now the pressure is back on Jeff Walz (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Assistant Stephanie Norman said she felt little pressure subbing for Walz. “He just told us to go out and have fun,” she stated.

“To have someone like that as your boss really instills a lot of confidence and pride, and so he — he kept like making it really easy — well, he jokingly put pressure on me. But now the pressure’s on him. I did my job. ”

Louisville made it look easy against the smaller Colonials of the Northeast Conference. At one point between the first and into the second quarter Robert Morris missed 17 straight field goal attempts.

Sam Fuehring following up one of her most disappointing starts in a loss to Notre Dame with one of her best ever games, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Asia Durr would have 19 as well, resting most of the second half with the game out of hand. Dana Evans added 13 points and Bionca Dunham 10 points and seven rebounds. 

“We didn’t get off to the best start finishing shots we normally make,” said Colonials coach Charlie Buscaglia. “We don’t see this kind of length and athleticism at the mid-major level. Louisville definitely disrupted our pace.” 

That and a lot of other things.