Closing out 2017, finally

The holiday season again, the time anticipated by people most of the year, always remindful of special times, good food, great people, wonderful people, family members and other loved ones.

Through all the hassles and pressures of the season, this holy day warms the collective spirit of the faithful, offering inspiration, hope and promise for the days ahead, on earth and beyond.

May you find a time to reflect on everything the season means, a few moments of quiet and peace, giving thanks to the provider and gifts to people who mean the most.

Here’s wishing all the best to you during this special time.

(Photo is of  5-year-old Ryann Brill, the granddaughter of Mike Gueting, who runs the scoreboard at University of Louisville basketball games.)

Spalding breaks through, UofL rips Grand Canyon

Ryan McMahon and Anas Mahmoud were having fun when the UofL offense finally clicked against Grand Canyon (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Ray Spalding making a breakthrough with those 21 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and assist against a good Grand Canyon team (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Good time for Ray Spalding’s game to start coming around. One week before the grudge game against Kentucky, 11 days before the first ACC game against Pittsburgh. Taking his game up a notch or two, several notches, in fact.

Best game of his career for the 6-foot-10 junior, leading the University of Louisville to a 74-56 win over a good Grand Canyon before a crowd of 16,841 at the KFC Yum! Center. Topping all scorers with 21 points, grabbing 16 rebounds, making three steals, blocking two shots and even getting an assist.

Possibly dawning on Spalding what kind of effort is going to be required  if this season is going to be a decent one for the Cardinals. With all of the presumed gimmes in the rear view mirror, the road ahead is going to be a bumpy one.

Another slow start for UofL, falling behind 6-0 at the start, and trailing 11-3 at the 12:49 mark in the first half. These shaky first halves all too familiar this season, even during their best performances. Louisville would outscore Grand Canyon over an eight-minute stretch in the second half to turn a 38-37 lead into a 19-point bulge with eight minutes remaining.

“I don’t have an answer (for the slow starts),” said Coach David Padgett. “I just glad it’s not the other way around. I’m glad we don’t get off to a great start and, all of a sudden, we’re horrible in the second half.”

Padgett gave credit to Spalding for an exceptional performance in the second half when he scored 13 of his 21 points and 11 of those 16 rebounds. Louisville had entered the game ranked 257th in the nation in defensive rebound efficiency.

“He was aggressive and our guys were doing a good job of getting the ball to him,” said the coach. “Most impressive to me were 10 defensive rebounds. He basically took it upon himself to cure our woes at least for this game.”

“The way I adjusted today was really well,” said Spalding. “I handled myself better than (Albany) with the stupid fouls.” He had two fouls in the first half in the previous game, four for the game and saw only 16 minutes of action.

For UofL to be competitive, Spalding has to stay out of foul trouble, hit the boards and make good shots. He did all three of those things Saturday, improving Louisville’s record to 10-2 for the season.




Louisville needs David Padgett to be successful

Not really sure what to conclude from the University of Louisville basketball team’s 70-68 win over Albany. Nor would this observer want to make any predictions about how things are going to turn out this season.

If the first 11 games have taught us anything, it is that this team is going to face some major challenges in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Teams many had never heard of are already making things difficult for the Cardinals.

Definitely a lack of killer instinct, as in UofL giving up a 12-point lead on Albany in the second half. Clinging for dear life on an Albany 3-point attempt at the buzzer and an obvious foul on the shooter. Thankfully the shot did not go in and the foul was ignored.

Whether it was a lack of respect for the opponent, whether or not the opponent was a decent team, or it was a lack of focus and intensity is up for debate. What’s pretty obvious, however, is that UofL a tough time getting out of the gate and struggling to  put teams away.

There’s definitely a lack of toughness, especially on the backboards.  A much smaller Albany getting 15 more rebounds than UofL. Some of those obviously coming off of Anas Mahmoud’s blocks. He has nine blocks in the game. Funny thing following some of those blocks was Albany was still getting rebounds and points.

Way too close, dodging a bullet against a team named Albany. Not cool. A loss would have been the low point of the season, opening the floodgates to conjecture as to the future of Interim Coach David Padgett.

With the way UofL has performed thus far, one envisions the latter half of the season being a prolonged debate on Padgett’s future. That would mean the Cardinals will have been struggling in ACC conference play. That Padgett’s days would be numbered.

Padgett has to get this team’s attention, somehow, some way. If the coach has been angry or disappointed with anyone, it is a well-kept secret. The nice guy approach only goes so far with some players. May be about time to light some fires.

The season-long audition is still very much an opening act. He needs to prepare himself and his team to overcome the drama that lies ahead. Louisville wants and needs David Padgett to be successful.

Child’s play for Asia Durr, Louisville women roll Kentucky

Asia Durr thrives with a lot of help from her teammates (Louisville Cardinal photo).

Asia Durr had a big smile on her face as she lined up for opening tip. Beaming, actually, obvious she was ready to have fun.

No jitters whatsoever.

Another big game, this one against arch rival Kentucky, and another huge performance for the University of Louisville’s women’s basketball team. The bigger the game, the more polished her effort.

Durr scoring 32 points to lead UofL in an 87-63 cakewalk over the Wildcats in Lexington on Sunday. Darn shame more of their fans weren’t in attendance, only 5,871 people showing up at Memorial Coliseum. A somber crowd for the most part, with the Cardinals never trailing after jumping out to a 7-0 start. That kind of day for the Wildcats, losing their third game in a row, their record falling to 8-4.

The UofL women were dominant in every phase of the game, breaking it open in the second quarter for 47-25 lead at halftime. The win improved the third-ranked team in the country’s record to 13-0. It was the UofL women’s second straight win over UK, including last season’s 69-67 overtime decision in Louisville.

Durr said her teammates make it easy for her. “It’s my teammates who get me going. It’s so much fun playing out there with them.”

Some of them had big games as well. including an 18-point performance from fist-pumping Myisha Hines-Allen to go with nine rebounds. Sam Fuehring with a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Arica Carter with 11 points and eight assists. Reserve Dana Evans her first double-double, 11 points and 10 assists.

“You look at our stat sheet and I tell people all of the time, we are one rebound away and one assist away from having four players with doubles-doubles,” said Walz. “I mean, it’s not just one player. Asia shoots the heck out of the ball. When she scores, her teammates do a great job of finding her in open space. We execute, I mean, I was really impressed with us.”