Walz lets Louisville women work themselves out of jam

By Ed Peak

Maybe this is a good week for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team to take a break.  A respite from all the travel and rigors of the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference.

Jeff Walz saving his timeouts, letting his players work themselves out of jam against Virginia Tech (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Jeff Walz has had a great time this season, often joking, clowning and high-fiving his players as they have wound their way to a 23-1 won-lost mark. But he was not smiling Sunday when Virginia Tech cut a 20-point lead to five points with less than a minute to go.

That look of confidence replaced by one of genuine concern on that stubble-framed countenance. He knew they were in trouble. The second ranked Cardinals letting a 20-point lead dwindle to almost nothing to a team hitting everything it threw at the basket in the fourth quarter. 

Walz avoiding using up precious timeouts during those final minutes, wanting his players to get themselves out of troubling situations. “I wanted them to figure it out themselves,” he said. Durr taking the cue, digging deep, taking the team on her shoulders again. 

Durr has been banged up a bit lately, actually sitting out a game two Sundays ago. But Asia would answer the call time and time again in a scary 72-63 win at Virginia Tech. With more than a little help from Sam Fuehring, banking layup after layup during the late going.

Durr would wind up with 34 points for the game, the fourth 30-point-plus outing for her career. The go-to player in the clutch, making five of seven 3-point attempts and all seven of her seven free throw shots, the final two icing the win with 13 seconds to go. Fuehring would collect her fourth double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

The close call for the Cardinals a reminder that the ACC remains one of the women’s college basketball’s toughest conferences. The week ahead a time to heal, get back to the basics, and prepare for the stretch drive. No time to take anyone or anything for granted.

Next game Sunday at 3 p.m. against Miami, a team fresh from upsetting Notre Dame, one game behind the Cardinals in the ACC standings, a team not be taken lightly. 

Rope-a-dope style not cool for Louisville basketball

By Ed Peak

Okay, the critics can begin. “I knew this was going to happen sooner or later.”

Yes, Louisville was totally outplayed by North Carolina Saturday but it’s not the end. Not with three more ranked teams to follow. Plenty of time to readjust, get more quality wins.

A lot of things went wrong during the loss to North Carolina. Rebounding. Consistent scoring from some of its leading scorers. But the most puzzling things missing were the excitement and toughness the Cardinals have played with this season.

Maybe the Cards were thinking playing at home against a team three weeks earlier they embarrassed 83-62, wouldn’t be that tough. Not Saturday, this was North Carolina, ninth ranked team in the nation.

Coach Chris Mack bemoans lack of fire in a 10-point loss to North Carolina (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“I didn’t think we came out with much fire,” said Louisville Coach Chris Mack. “I’m disappointed for our fans, great environment and essentially to end the half with no offensive rebounds and let Carolina dismantle us one the glass. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am, that effort alone.”

The game was designated as a “white out” and had a boxing theme with Muhammad Ali videos. But the Cardinals came out limping and were out-punched. North Carolina had four players score in double figures, led by Luke Maye’s 20 points and 11 rebounds. Cam Johnson added 19 points and 10 rebounds. UNC out-rebounded the Cards 49-32, 18-7 on the offensive boards good for 18 second chance points.

Louisville (16-6, 7-2) ranked 15th once in the first half missed 10 of 11 shots from the field and trailed 44-28 at halftime. The Cards did bounce off the mat cutting the lead to 58-49 midway through the second half.

Guard Christen Cunningham was on his game with 15 points, four rebounds, nine assists and one turnover. Cunningham agreed with Sutton.
“We just got bullied. I mean we got punched.,” said Cunningham. “We didn’t drive them out. I think Carolina, their staple is two things. Transition and rebounding we knew. We just didn’t perform like we needed to.”

The Cards play at 12th ranked Virginia Tech (18-3, 7-2 ACC) Monday. The Hokies under Buzz Williams are coming off a record setting 47-24 road victory over a good North Carolina State team Saturday. Monday’s game will be the second of four straight ACC opponents. 

No time for more rope-a-dope, passive aggressive is counter productive.

Ed Peak: ACC race becomes more daunting for Louisville basketball

Jordan Nwora’s continued development will be pivotal for the University of Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference race (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

By Ed Peak

The college basketball season is a long drawn out mixture of highs and lows, ups and downs for its teams. I like to look at the season in segments. Preseason. End of non conference. Midway through conference. Beginning of post season. Lots of opportunities to change opinions.

With February 1 quickly approaching and the halfway point in the Atlantic Coast Conference race, here are some thoughts about the Louisville Cardinals (15-5, 6-1).

Christen Cunningham, the right point guard at the right time for UofL basketball (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Play hard. Solid defensively. A little inconsistent offensively. And where would this team be without graduate transfers, guards Christen Cunningham and Khwan Fore?

Cunningham has been consistent with his point guard duties most of the season and has turned into more of a scorer lately. One can count on his passing to get the ball to the right place. Or he will drive to the basket and get points and get fouled. His 3-point shooting has been good as well.

Khwan Ford becoming more comfortable, finding his shooting touch (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Khwan Fore is more of a defensive oriented guard. Against North Carolina State he had season highs of nine points and four assists were pluses while forcing the Wolfpack into several turnovers. He followed that with eight points in a win over Pittsburgh, Saturday.

Though undersized, Cunningham and Fore  pressure teams into mistakes and don’t turn the ball over –must-have qualities for a starting backcourt.

Malik Williams, a 6-foot-11 forward, is interesting. He loves hanging around the three-point line and can make the long jumpers occasionally. He is 17 of 47 though 20 games from three. When he gets inside he can rebound and block shots.

Continue reading “Ed Peak: ACC race becomes more daunting for Louisville basketball”

Waiting not an option for Vince Tyra to stop Louisville football bleeding

Cindy Rice Shelton photo

Time to act. Quickly. Like right now.

Anyone watching the University of Louisville football team this season knew that something had gone terribly wrong. The Cardinals were giving up 56, 77, and 54 points in lopsided losses over the past three games. Ugly and getting uglier every week, with no prospect that anything was ever going to change.

The question of whether a coaching  change was needed was not if but when. Athletic Director Vince Tyra pulled the pin Sunday morning, feeling the need to immediately relieve Petrino of his duties. Petrino had suffered from the incompetence of his staff and the confidence of his players. He had worn out the welcome mat and exhausted the patience of the UofL administration and Cardinal fans. 

Bobby Petrino was rumored on his way to LSU when Koby Springer held this sign up at the 2004 Liberty Bowl in Memphis (ESPN photo).

He had to go, along with three of his family members on the staff, specifically two sons-in-law — linebackers coach Ryan Beard, defensive line coach L.D Scott — and his son quarterback coach Nick Petrino. Also gone is Andy Wagner, director of football operations, who was blocking UofL media left and right on Petrino’s Twitter feed..

The Cardinals (2-8, 0-7) rank last or near the bottom of the Atlantic Coast
Conference in about every statistical category. Associate Head Coach and safeties coach Lorenzo Ward, was named interim coach.

Petrino was in his second stint as Louisville’s head coach. He was (77-35)
overall and 36-26 during his second stint. He was 21-18 against the Atlantic
Coast Conference. But just 10-16 since a blowout loss to Houston in 2016.
Tyra met with the players Sunday morning, making one thing clear.

Lorenzo Ward overseeing the next two games, attempting to salvage anything positive from the 2018 season.

He wants to  change the atmosphere around Louisville football. Now. Not next season, not when a new coach comes in. Now.

Tyra wants coaches who deserve to be here. And players who want to be here. While things look bleak, he says these players can change that perception and go out winners, especially the seniors. He called on the senior class to take charge and help the young players gain momentum entering next season.

Tyra is also focusing on the 12 players that have petitioned to transfer after the season. He said he would work hard in trying to keep those players.and the deportees who are still in school, arguing it’s not out of question that they could return.

A lot of questions are to be answered before Louisville football can get back on track. Few believed that that was ever going to happen under Bobby Petrino. That was even more obvious to Vince Tyra, and it couldn’t happen soon enough for the fan base.

Ed Peak: Louisville football is on life support, needing a transplant

As the losses mount, so too does the embarrassment for University of Louisville football. How much more can L1C4 take? It’s like trying to plug an oil gusher with a band aid. No hope.

Did Bobby Petrino forget how to coach? No. Did he miss the lectures on effective human resources management? Yes. Much debate about whether Athletic Director Vince Tyra should relieve Petrino of his duties. Pay the $14 million buyout and run up I-65 to secure home boy Jeff Brohm from Purdue.

Brohm, you’ll recall, was an assistant at Louisville under Petrino. When Petrino left Western Kentucky University, Jeff took over as head coach and led the Hilltoppers to a Conference USA title and two bowl wins before going to West Lafayette.

In in his first season at Purdue he led the Boilermakers to a Foster Farms Bowl win over Arizona. Louisville escaped a loss in Indianapolis in the season opener to that same Purdue team, 35-28. This season after struggling to an 0-3 start, Purdue won four of its next five which included wins over nationally ranked Ohio State and Iowa, as well as Boston College. Yes, The Ohio State University of Coach Urban Meyer. It wasn’t close, 49-20.

Louisville would have to pay Brohm’s buyout at Purdue. He seems happy where he is. He admitted to meeting with Tennessee during their coaching mess last year, but said no. If you would turn down a chance to coach in the almighty Southeastern Conference, a blue blood program like Tennessee, would he come back to Louisville?

I’m told he still has a home in the Ville. He would be a fan favorite and could possibly make a quick fix of the mess on Floyd Street like what was at Purdue. Coaches love coming home but I’m just not sure Brohm is a jumper like so many coaches.

Brohm is a regular guy with humble beginnings. I knew him as a player at Trinity and Louisville and assistant coach for the Cardinals. He and his coaching staff have the respect of many of the state’s high school coaches just like Greg Nord did when he was an assistant at Kentucky and Louisville. Brohm got a steal when he plucked Rondale Moore of Trinity away from Kentucky and Louisville. The receiver is trending to set Purdue and Big Ten freshman receiving records.

Continue reading “Ed Peak: Louisville football is on life support, needing a transplant”