For Candy and Angel, A Good Friday

By Sonja Sykes

Following the WNBA draft, this is indeed a good Friday for the senior standouts from Jeff Walz’s  No. 2 ranked Lady Cards. Angel McCoughtry was the first overall pick, going to the Atlanta Dream and Candyce Bingham was the final pick in the third round, chosen by the San Antonio Silver Spurs.

It’s not NBA money, mind you. Rookies in the WNBA are limited to what they can earn their first year, anywhere from $35,000 to $44,000 but their living expenses are paid. Not a bad first job, though for two college graduates. McCoughtry, no doubt, will receive additional compensation for promotional and marketing contracts, and since the season is relatively short, 3, 0 or so regular season gamesthe girls will most likely be presented with additional opportunities to thrive and survive in the off-season. The contracts are not guaranteed, you have to make the squad to get paid.

The WNBA has never made a profit or been self-standing since inception. Down to 13 teams now, the rosters will consist of 10 active players and one spot for an injured reserve player. McCoughtry joins a team in the Dream that only one four games last year. Bingham joins the team with the best record in the WNBA.

It is the first time that two Lady Cards have been selected in the same year for the WNBA and they become the third and fourth players to be drafted. Jill Morton was the first in 2000 and Lori Nero in 2003. Jazz Covington was invited to several WNBA camps as a free agent after graduation in 2007 but was never selected for a roster. She currently plays in Europe. Yuliya Tokova was considered to be a possible high pick candidate for the league after completion of her career, but that career at UofL ended early with back and knee injuries.

Congratulations to both Angel and Candyce and hopefully this is the start of a steady pipeline of Lady Cards to the next level.

Chris Dominguez Doing His Thing

So how is Chris Dominguez doing this spring?

The University of Louisville’s consensus All-American baseball player has nine home runs, 40 runs batted in, five doubles, two triples and a batting average of .333. His most impressive outing was against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in early March when he smashed three pitches out of Jim Patterson Stadium, one them a grand slam.grand_slam_dominguez1

With Tuesday’s 15-1 win over Indiana University, the Baseball Cards improved their record to 21-9, matching the best 30-game record for a Dan McDonnell-coached U of L squad, matching the 2007 team with that record. That 2007 team went on to win 47 games and earn the program’s first ever College World Series appearance.

Up next, the Cards play Big East foe Pittsburgh on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the first of a three-game series at Jim Patterson Stadium. Friday’s game is also scheduled for 6 p.m.. The Saturday game is 1 p.m.

They need to start soon building momentum in the Big East Conference where they have five wins against four losses

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Football Bloodlines — The Steelers Depot notes that Zach Stoudt, a redshirt freshman quarterback candidate, is the son of former Pittsburgh Steeler backup quarterback Cliff Stoudt. Stoudt completed four of four passes for 94 yards, including a 47-yard pass to Trent Guy and a 20-yard TD throw to Maurice Clark during a recent scrimmage.

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More Big East Dominance — With all the NCAA action, the women’s National Invitation Tournament was easy to overlook. The champ was South Florida,  capturing its first postseason basketball title in school history with a 75-71 win over Kansas on KU’s home court in front of 16,113 fans.

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New Direction — Angel McCoughtry is off to New York for the Women’s NBA draft today where she is expected to be the No. 1 draft pick. The picking begins at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN. Coach Jeff Walz accompanied her.

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Enough Talent? — With more its share of women’s basketball talent, UConn was unbeatable, well beyond the reach of most other schools this  season, prompting this thought from Useless Trivia and Mindless Rants:

“Women’s college basketball also suffers from a “numbers” situation. There are far fewer top level women players compared to men. They aren’t going to get rich by jumping to the WNBA, so they stay for four years. And the majority of this talent goes to several select programs. What we saw UCONN do this year is exhibit A. Where most programs, like Louisville, Rutgers, Pitt, or Maryland, have one or two bonafide superstars UCONN has three, the trinity of Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles, and Maya Moore. And no matter how you split the numbers, three will always be one or two.”

So Long Andre McGee

andre_mcgee-defense

The image of Andre McGee playing defense was rarely seen in print media or elswhere, most photos depicting him shooting or dunking the ball. That’s why this photo is so great, embodying  the image forever embedded in the memories of Louisville basketball fandom, the sight of McGee terrifying opposing point guards.

Rick Pitino’s staff keeps track of deflections but doesn’t make these stats available to the public. What we do know, however, is that he is credited with 46 steals during his senior season. He, along with Preston Knowles, made defense fun to watch for fans but a living hell for other teams.

When people talk about the all-time best Louisville teams in the future, Andre has to be part of the conversation.

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If you’re following the University of Louisville women’s basketball team to St. Louis for the NCAA Final Four, the place to meet up with fellow Card fans is Morgan Street Brewery at 721 North Second Street.  Morgan Street manager partner Steve Owings is ordering extra Kentucky whiskey and may brew a batch of Cardinal Red Lager for his guests.

Collect Your Belongings

The ride ends precipitately, the tank on fumes, the wheels coming off the wagon, the engine throwing a rod. A bummer, but limited firepower will only take you so far.

Hope you enjoyed the trip. Check your seats for any personal items, and dispose of trash as you get off the bus. Tips are appreciated.

Give Rick Pitino credit for getting the most out of his team, advancing to the Elite 8 before the weaknesses — weaknesses so glaring, even to the fanatics — would finally catch up with harsh reality.ul_cardinal_head_logo2

Pitino can go back to being just another human being, a decent coach, maybe not the coaching genius portrayed in the media over the past few weeks.  But he will play the “will he or won’t he” game for days or weeks, wanting to prolong the drama, loving the attention, being the object of speculation. Sort of sad, really.

The era of Terrence Williams, Andre McGee, Earl Clark and Will Scott is over, along with the hopes and dreams of a third NCAA championship. They leave behind a legacy of having achieved for new levels of national respect for University of Louisville basketball.

No small accomplishments, any of these: the Big East Conference Champions, Big East Tournament Champions, No. 1 seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, and the final season No. 1 ranking in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ polls.

This team achieved, overachieved and achieved some more, overcoming many shortcomings as individual athletes and as a collective unit, disguising them well enough to be considered the favorite in brackets across America. Still hard to believe after watching this team all year long.

Great ride. Thrill a minute being a contender again.

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