Cabooses more valuable to UofL than additional parking

UofLCardGame photo

By Ed Peak

Say it’s not so.

An alarming story in the local newspaper on Wednesday about the cabooses parked at the north end of Cardinal Stadium. They may be gone soon. All 14 of them, those romantic reminders of America’s past. 

It may not seem a big loss to some but in reality the cabooses are a huge deal, greatly enhancing the atmosphere surrounding University of Louisville football games. I absolutely love them.

These cabooses host hundreds of boosters and fans before and after games. A local radio station does a pregame show from one of the cabooses. There is always a buzz there on game days. People thoroughly enjoying themselves.

According to the Courier-Journal, Caboose Express pays about $19,000 a year to lease the cars, which are on state land, and in turn rents them out each for about $15,000 per year — or about $210,000 annually. It also provides one caboose to U of L for free, according to contracts attached to the suit.

The UofL Athletic Association has  notified the caboose owner that the lease will be terminated. The space is more valuable now than 20 years ago when the cabooses arrived. Apparently U of L wants the cabooses, or the space, for itself.

But Cardinal Stadium and the surrounding areas have many places to park. It is currently used as a party area as many cabooses having full kitchens. Some fans watch Cardinal baseball on top of the cabooses during the NCAA baseball tournament, especially when Jim Patterson Stadium is sold out.

The University of Louisville Athletics Department needs more revenue. Athletic Director Vince Tyra has been forced to squeeze every nickel, dime and penny out of every revenue source. Let the finger-pointing begin.

This goes back to former Athletic Director Tom Jurich and two coaches. Football coach Bobby Petrino who left he Cardinal football program in shambles when he was asked to leave in November and owed $16 million. Rick Pitino and his deny, deny, deny tactics. It wasn’t me. I don’t know anything. Costing Cardinals athletics lost lots of revenue.

That the ULAA would even consider doing away with cabooses may be an indication of deeply that athletic program has been affected by all of the damaging events over the past three years. It’s a mistake, however, to assume that more parking revenue would make up for the loss of the cabooses.

Time for the Athletic Association to go back to Caboose Express and renegotiate the terms of the lease. Those cabooses represent far more potential for profit than any new parking schemes. Their loss would be a major blow to the optics of University of Louisville football.

 

Ed Peak: Louisville women are ready for post-season fun

Jeff Walz cutting down the net after winning his team’s first ACC championship last season (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

By Ed Peak

Jeff Walz is a candidate for “Coach of the Year” honors, Asia Durr for “Player of the Year” and this University of Louisville women’s basketball team is a contender to win a national championship. Until last Thursday I was a little pessimistic. No longer.

The way third-ranked Louisville shredded 10th-ranked North Carolina State convinced me that this team is ready for another long post-season run. Tampa, the site of this year’s Final Four, is a nice place to visit. I’ve been there, and it’s especially nice in early April.

Asia Durr gets one more run at an NCAA championship (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The ACC has proven again to rival the Southeastern Conference for supremacy in women’s college hoops. Notre Dame, NC State, Miami, Florida and Florida State are all quality teams. It’s possible the Irish, the defending national champions, will be a No. 1 seed as well even if they lose in the conference tournament.

Winning the conference tournament or the NCAA will be difficult. But a very tough schedule has the Cardinals well prepared. Non-conference wins over UCONN, Boise State, Arizona State and Kentucky have helped as well. That bitter loss to Mississippi State in overtime in the semifinals is in the back of the mind of these players.

You can bet Durr, Sam Fuehring, Arica Carter and Dana Evans remember the two rushed missed layups as time expired in regulation that would have put the Cardinals in the finals against Muffet McGraw’s Irish, a team Louisville had beaten twice last season.

All that doesn’t matter. What does matter is Louisville needs to play well in the conference tournament to sharpen up for the NCAA’s.

The No. 2 seed Cardinals open conference tourney play Friday against either No. 15 Wake Forest or No. 7 Virginia Tech. My money is on Tech that played the Cards tough in the second half in Blacksburg, Va. in February.

Another NC State matchup could follow in the semifinals and it’s possible a game with Notre Dame, a team the Cards lost to in January in the finals. Foul trouble hurt the Cardinals in that game. And Louisville wasn’t playing with as much confidence then as it seems to have now.

Among the keys will be how Fuehring plays in the middle and controls her emotions. How junior Bianca Dunham scores and rebounds is equally important. If Durr isn’t scoring, she needs to find  Carter, Jazmine Jones and Dana Evans. Kylee Shook seems to be progressing in the middle. If Fuehring gets in foul trouble, Shook will have to pick up the slack. Mykasa Robinson and Seygan Robins will provide relief and must contribute.

Time to start clicking on all cylinders, taking advantage of still another opportunity to achieve Jeff Walz’ ultimate goal for this basketball program. Wait till next year has arrived, destiny is staring this team in the face.

As Al McGuire, the late Marquette coach would say. “The last shot has to go in.” Here’s hoping that last shot goes in this time.

Letdown coming at worst time for Louisville basketball

By Ed Peak

Maybe it was the small crowd that showed up. More people show up for high school games than were at Conte Forum. Maybe it was the food in the pregame meal. Maybe it was the weather in Bean Town. Doesn’t matter, the University of Louisville basketball team was flat. Little emotion. No fire. Just weak.

Chris Mack was frustrated. His assistants were perplexed. University of Louisville fans on the post game radio shows asking what everybody is asking, what has happened to this team?

UofL looked like it was just going through the motions in a listless first half. Then the Cardinals rallied to take a lead deep into the second half, only to watch Boston College come back. The last five minutes were an implosion, with Cardinals going down to a 66-59 defeat.

Boston College is a bad team playing out the string just trying to get to the end of the season.  Look at all the missed shots, the defensive lapses. Louisville didn’t take advantage. The Eagles were without one of their top players in freshman Wynston Tabbs who averages 13.9 points. The Eagles are 4-9 without him.

Card Nation is slowly coming to accept the fact that this team is toast. This is not the same team that beat Michigan State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, led Duke by 23 in the second half and played its next opponent as if it’s life depended on it. Where has that spark, the toughness, the swag gone?

UofL fans was lulled into a false sense of confidence by all the early success. Call it Duke hangover, call it what you want. Louisville has done enough to make the NCAA tournament. But losses in the next two games and an early exit from the ACC tourney and Louisville is quite possibly a bubble team — or an eight or nine seed at best.

“Sickening to watch,” said Mack to the Associated Press following the game. “I mean we’re just not making winning plays. Not making winning plays on either end of the floor. I’m sitting there thinking like we have everything to play for. And you wouldn’t be able to tell that in the last five minutes of the game.”

Rock bottom is where UofL lives right now. Notre Dame (13-15) comes to the Yum Center on Sunday afternoon. Irish coach Mike Bray will have his team ready. Can Chris Mack recharge this Louisville team? The odds aren’t very good.

Louisville basketball needs to provide proof of life

By Ed Peak

Where have they gone, those guys who were on fire a month ago?

If this University of Louisville basketball team wants a decent seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, it’s time to get back on track. Now. Not next week, not the ACC Tournament. Now.

Louisville has lost four of its last six games. Any edge the Cardinals had from playing a favorable early conference schedule is gone. Missing is that toughness, grit and determination that helped this team beat Michigan State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.

Card Nation keeps waiting for something positive. After the 23-point melt down against Duke came the teeth gnashing win over Clemson. Against Syracuse, Louisville didn’t look anything like the team that shot its way to a big lead against the Blue Devils.  Or even the one that had Florida State on the ropes for nearly 40 minutes before losing in overtime.

After getting off to an impressive start, Chris Mack’s team badly needs to get back in the win column (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Now we need to see if Chris Mack can turn this team around. That old nemesis known as the No. 3 ranked Virginia Cavaliers comes to town Saturday. Coach Tony Bennett’s team has only two losses, both to Duke. Virginia puts fans to sleep, but is a consistent winner. They are not invincible, however. Remember that No.1 seed losing to 16th-seeded Baltimore Maryland-County in the NCAA Tournament last season?

Continue reading “Louisville basketball needs to provide proof of life”

Blowing leads not encouraging for Louisville as season enters stretch

Ryan McMahon down the middle again but he rarely scores around the basket (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

By Ed Peak

This thing with the University of Louisville basketball team giving away leads late in the game is taking a mental and physical toll on everyone, the coaches, players, and the fans.  At the worst possible time, with March rapidly approaching.
 
The Cardinals almost folding again over the weekend. The turnover problem rearing its ugly self when it matters most, at crunch time when teams are pressing, locked in defensively. UofL loses focus and confidence, seemingly hoping to be rescued by the clock.
 
When Louisville inbounds the ball, it’s usually from the corner, and Christen Cunningham winds up getting trapped. He is only 6-foot-2 has trouble seeing over bigger players waving their arms. For starters, they may want to get it to the middle for better spacing.
 
One can’t blame Cunningham for all the drama, however. Had it not been for his layups and the big 3-pointer on Saturday, the Cards would be saddled with a three-game losing streak.
 
Teams are forced to pay close attention to Jordan Nwora. The sophomore averages over 17 points and close to eight rebounds. He’s arguably the team’s best player but his ball handling is random at best. He leads the team in turnovers with 63, including six of them against Clemson.
 
Dwayne Sutton’s game seems to have fallen off a bit, scoring four points in Saturday’s win. He has played solid defense but his ball handling against the press also leaves much to be desired.

Ryan McMahon is dead on behind the 3-point line when he gets the ball on the fly, but that becomes a tough proposition in the closing minutes.
 
Inside players Malik Williams and Steven Enoch have been up and down as well. They both come up short offensively and defensively against opponents their size or larger.
 
This group of players has shown signs of potential greatness at times, beating quality opponents like Michigan State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, and building a 23-point lead over top-ranked Duke in the second half. But the recent downturn in their fortunes may be taking a major toll on their collective psyche at a time when they need to be getting better.
 
The season only gets tougher from this point. Not the time to be going backwards.