Jazmine Jones with finishing touch for Louisville women

Top photo: Jazmine Jones becoming aggressive in second half (Mike DeZarn photo). Bottom: Virginia’s Amandine Toi runs into a human barricade of Dana Evans, Kylee Shook and Bionca Dunham (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Jamine Jones was all but missing in action as the University of Louisville women’s basketball team raced to a 39-22 halftime lead over Virginia. She would barely dent the stat sheet, managing only one point in the first 20 minutes.

Mykasa Robinson doing what she does best, playing defense against Jocelyn Willoughby, the league’s leading scorer who got 17 points (Mike DeZarn photo).

A different story in the second half, however, with her team going on long scoring droughts, allowing Virginia to close the deficit to nine points on two occasions. A turnover here, a lost rebound there and the Cardinals were in for a dogfight.

Jones with her best basketball when needed most. She would score seven points in the third quarter, including a couple old-fashioned three-point trips and two steals to keep the Cavaliers at bay. She would net five more points in the fourth quarter, winding with a total of 13.

Dana Evans with two of team high 21 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“I just decided to become aggressive in the second half,” she said. “It was pretty rough around the basket. Had to do it.”

The outcome not a true indicator of the game but Louisville would win 71-56 before a crowd of 7,776 at the KFC Yum! Center, improving UofL’s record to 19-1 overall and 8-0 in the ACC.

Dana Evans leading the charge in the first half with 15 points and totaling 21 points for the game. She would also have six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Kylee Shook an intimidating force around the basket with eight points and an incredible six blocks, raising her season total to 49. She already has had 186 blocks during her UofL career.

UofL closer to naming rights for Cardinal Stadium

Cardinal Stadium will likely have an expanded name and a new corporate sponsor when the 2020-21 football season rolls around.

Having reached a settlement with John Schnatter over the old stadium naming rights last October, the University of Louisville is free to pursue a new corporate partner.

On Monday UofL’s Purchasing Department issued a Request for Proposal inviting interested parties to submit their bids for working with the University. The proposed target date for a Letter of Intent is the week of March 2:

“The University of Louisville Athletics Department is seeking a driven, innovative, and collaborative partner to help secure Naming Rights for Cardinal Stadium. This partner will conduct a thorough valuation of the project, develop and execute a customized go-to-market strategy grounded in analytics and market-specific data to generate multiple viable candidates, and ultimately identify the best long-term partner for Louisville Athletics.”

While noting that dates are subject to change, the following schedule was included in the RFP:

Jan. 28 — Deadline for written questions.
Feb. 5 — RFP proposals due.
Feb. 10 (week of) — Shortlist announcement.
March 2 (week of) — Letter of Intent.

The invitation states that proposals should include comprehensive valuation of the Naming Rights to Cardinal Stadium, customized brand engagement to elevate the Louisville fan experience, innovative and strategic consulting to push impact beyond the stadium and game day. 

 

Louisville owns Music City & Mississippi State

By Ed Peak

Coach Scott Satterfield and his coaching staff made football fun again this season, capping it off with another bowl win over an SEC team (Adam Creech photo, UofL Athletics).

“ACC, ACC, ACC.”

The chant from the partisan University of Louisville football fans started low and continued to grow until it echoed throughout Nissan Stadium late in the fourth quarter. The Mississippi State faithful had already headed to Broadway to drown their sorrows.

Such a sweet victory for everyone associated with UofL, a football team needed to totally reinvent  itself after a 2-8 record from hell last season. Crawling back from humiliation and emptiness to an amazing 8-5 record and a bowl win. A team that lost 22 transfers in addition to its senior class.

The final score, making many UofL fans proudly take second, third and fourth looks at the scoreboard, was Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28. The first bowl victory for the Cards since Lamar Jackson and company defeated Texas A&M in 2015 at the same venue.

UofL seems to like Nashville. For the second time this season and third time in four years the Cardinals came away with a victory. None of those last minute heroics needed in this one. Louisville won in convincing fashion, with quarterback Micale Cunningham and the Cardinal offense nearly unstoppable.

The Bulldogs, favored by 4.5 points in the Music City Bowl, starting strong, building a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. From that point on, however, it was all Cardinals, scoring 31 straight points, including four touchdowns in the second half.

More than a little traumatic shortly after the kickoff, with UofL’s Dez Fitzpatrick fumbling the ball on the Mississippi State four-yard line after an eight-play, 96-yard march from its own three. Visions of the Kentucky loss looming in the minds of Cardinal fans. Only temporary, their fear would eventually be transformed into unbridled joy and pride.

A memorable day for fifth-year senior Dante Peete would score his first and only touchdown on a pass from Cunningham to give Louisville a 17-14 lead at 5:01 in the third quarter.

Then came the play that changed the game. Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens fumbled around his own 35. Senior Khane Pass playing in his final game scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 31 yards for a touchdown and a 24-14 with 2:51 in the third quarter.

Cunningham was the game’s Most Valuable Player, completing 16 of 23 attempts for 279 yards and two touchdowns while running 16 times for 81 yards. Tutu Atwell finished with nine catches for 147 yards, making several highlight reel catches. Javian Hawkins carried 23 times for 105 yard and a touchdown. And how about that 33-yard touchdown pass from Tutu Atwell to Marshon Ford in the second quarter?

ACC Coach of the Year Scott Satterfield, who is 4-0 in post season play, was ecstatic. “These guys brought it every day, I’m so proud of them,” said Satterfield from the celebration stand. “All of these guys and you Card Nation. We’re going to burn up Nashville tonight, I’ll tell you that.”

Merry Christmas, bring on the holidays for UofL fans

Reflecting the spirit of the season at a UofL basketball game with his elf cap is Sutton Wyatt, the 6-year-old son of Jason and Lori Wyatt. The family has had season tickets for 10 seasons (Photos by Mike DeZarn).

Shopping done, the gifts are wrapped, so we are switching into Christmas mode, fully immersing ourselves in the holiday season.

Every sport at the University of Louisville with an attraction all its own, the fans forever faithful in the pursuit of wins with each new challenge. UofL providing dreams for youngsters old and young, diversions from the rigors, and all the other ups and downs of everyday life.

All those new faces in key positions — Neeli Bendapudi, Vince Tyra, Chris Mack, Scott Satterfield, Dani Busboom Kelly, and John Michael Hayden — exceeding expectations. Dan McDonnell and Jeff Walz maintaining unprecedented success, still aiming higher.

Much to be thankful for, knowing the challenges have made us stronger, the issues will be resolved and the university has so much more to achieve. 

Thanks for being Louisville fans. The Observer appreciates your support of Card Game.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Mekhi Becton will be missed at Music City Bowl

By Ed Peak

Some University of Louisville football fans won’t like my take. I’ll let you decide.

On Monday, junior offensive tackle and all Atlantic Coast Conference First-Team selection, Mekhi Becton has decided to forgo his final season and enter the National Football League draft.

“First of all, I want to thank the man above for giving me the physical opportunity to play this great game, without him I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what I have in my career,” said Becton in a prepared release,
thanking his parents, coaches, fans and teammates “for an amazing year and helping me become one of the top linemen in the ACC.”

Mekhi Becton leaving one game too soon for many Cardinal fans.

This is the part some won’t like. Why not one more game? The bowl game. It’s meaningless in the overall scheme of things but I think players owe it to their teammates, coaches, fans and the school to finish their careers if they are healthy.

When UofL needed a first down, the runners went behind Becton. He protected the quarterback’s blind side. Watching Becton block was fun. I made it a point personally to watch him and saw him push defenders as much five yards down field. On several occasions.

The 6-foot-8, 370-pound Beckton will go down as one of the top offensive lineman ever at Louisville. He was selected as the ACC’s Blocking Trophy recipient, the first Cardinal ever. He had started 33 games and had 60 knockdown blocks to help the Cardinals finish 7-5 and 5-3 this season.
He helped the Cardinals rushing attack average 214.2 yards a game, third in the ACC and 32.7 points per game.

I respect Becton because I believe he is a quality person who worked hard and gave the university everything he had. Quarterback Lamar Jackson played his final game in the bowl two years ago. Jaire Alexander did not.

If millions of dollars are at stake, however, why not just take out insurance policies as some players have done. That probably wouldn’t be the best interests of the player agents, not benefiting their bank accounts.

Forgoing the team’s final game leaves a bad taste and lack of empathy for a team’s most faithful fans. That’s too bad because his teammates could use him in the Music City Bowl.