No. 1 Louisville basketball is back, taking care of Michigan

Jordan Nwora leading the team in points and rebounds while also leading the crowd in enthusiasm (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

What a great place for University of Louisville to be in the college basketball world, ranked No. 1 in all the major polls. A place few believed was conceivable after all the consternation of a couple of seasons ago.

A UofL team cool, calm and collected with the sudden rise to the top, focused and hungry. Defending the lofty national ranking against fourth-ranked Michigan that was undefeated and on a roll, having knocked off Iowa State, Gonzaga and North Carolina last week.

The Cardinals strictly concerned with taking care of business, following the game plan to the letter. Unveiling a level of defensive efficiency not seen  around here for a while, taking it to a new level. Also bringing a disciplined approach to offense, distributing the ball, waiting for the right shots and crashing those boards.

A near capacity throng of 21,674 fans at the KFC Yum! Center to see UofL leading the game from beginning to end, emerging with a convincing 15-point 58-43 win over the Michigan. A fan base delighted and thrilled with Louisville’s return to the upper echelons under Coach Chris Mack. Loud, noisy, boisterous, engaged for 40 minutes.

Jordan Nwora, passing up a chance at the NBA for this team, leading all scorers with 22 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Steven Enoch, continuing to improve, contributing 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Dwayne Sutton, everywhere during his 35 minutes of playing time, with 11 rebounds and four points. Chris Mack noting that Sutton also denied 17 Michigan cuts to the basket, thriving on his coach’s version of pack line defense.

Louisville basketball quieting the skeptics who said the Cardinals hadn’t beaten anybody in its first seven wins (with apologies to Miami and Western  Kentucky). Not bedazzled, beguiled or boastful about their early success and the accompanying recognition. Not ready to rest on its laurels, with so much more success possible in the season ahead.

ACC competition resumes soon, providing immense challenges, and those inevitable ups and downs. Meanwhile, UofL fans can enjoy the time at the top.

Louisville women dispatch Western Kentucky in opener

As he entered the opening game against Western Kentucky, Coach Jeff Walz was looking for someone who will take control when the going gets tense for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team.  Walz is probably still looking that certain someone after a 75-56 win.

Elizabeth Balogun was hot in her UofL debut, the transfer from Georgia Tech hitting five of six three-point attempts.

Gotta keep a close eye on newcomer Elizabeth Balogun, a sophomore transfer from Georgia Tech. She hit all four of her three-point shots in the first half, including the one that gave UofL a nine-point lead at intermission. She would wind up with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Dana Evans, meanwhile, was scoring a game-high 19 points while handing out three assists, grabbing two rebounds and a steal. Elizabeth Dixon, another sophomore transfer from Georgia Tech, registered a double-double on 10 points and 13 rebounds in her debut as a Cardinal. Norika Konno, a freshman from Japan, was a steady performer, collecting nine points.

Yacine Diop and Kylee Shook both slow getting out of the gate, scoring a total of four points between them in 27 minutes of playing time.

Attendance was 8,304. Louisville entertains Murray State on Friday at the KFC Yum! Center.

Photo gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton.

UofL’s Bendapudi galvanizing force to rescue Jewish Hospital

Neeli Benedapudi was able to pull all of divergent forces together under a tight deadline for what appears to be unanimous support for the University of Louisville to rescue numerous health care facilities The hard part is getting it through the Kentucky Legislature..

Neeli Bendapudi has delivered the plan. Now it’s up to the state legislature.

The presence of the University of Louisville may soon be greatly magnified throughout this community, which has hopefully been spared massive losses in healthcare services for patients and jobs for health care providers.

Thanks to Dr. Bendapudi, Jewish Hospital will not be announcing plans this week to close its doors. The historic hospital, along with nine other health care facilities in the area, will soon be under the auspices of UofL.

The University will invest $10 million in purchasing all of the assets of Kentucky One from CommonSpirit Health, its Chicago-based parent company. CommonSpirit will forgive $19.7 million in outstanding promissory notes from University Medical Center Inc. UofL will receive more than $76 million of working capital in the form of accounts receivable and cash to meet future operating expenses.

The deal came together within two weeks after discussions about Jewish Hospital fell through with a potential private investor. Knowing that Louisville could not afford to be without the facilities, Bendapudi was able to marshal an almost unprecedented level of cooperation between city and state officials and political parties.

UofL also will acquire the following:

  • Frazier Rehab Institute
  • Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital
  • Our Lady of Peace Hospital
  • Jewish Hospital, Shelbyville
  • Jewish Medical Centers East, Northeast, South and Southwest
  • Physician groups affiliated with KentuckyOne

Another integral part of the deal would include a $50 million loan from the state, subject to the approval of the Kentucky General Assembly. Governor Matt Bevin has endorsed the plan, along with the leaders of both parties in the Kentucky General Assembly. Getting something this important passed in Kentucky is always a struggle.

After years of struggle with the city’s healthcare challenges, there is reason for optimism again, providing hope that Louisville will again resume its pioneering role in medical research and quality health care.

She has a long list of names of people to credit, and their involvement was absolutely necessary, but Neeli Bendapudi is the driving force.

Special craft beer in works for Louisville alumni, fans

Special craft beer may be on the way for Louisville alumni and fans.

Some people are thinking outside the ivory tower on Belknap Campus.

The University of Louisville is actively entertaining the notion of a special blend of craft beer to be marketed to university alumni and young professionals at retail locations across the country.

Cardinal Brew?  L1C4 Special?  Griffith Gold? Russ Smith Lite?

Just a few names that come to mind for a craft beer that would be specifically marketed for UofL partisans. Lord knows, they love their beer.

The University has issued an official Request For Proposal for a “logoed” craft beer partnership. The partnership will be geared toward providing a craft beer with one of the retro logos from the university archive library.

The RFP states that the partnership does not include UofL athletics. However, the successful bidder will have an opportunity to explore pouring rights and additional university sponsorship marketing outside of the partnership. 

The deadline for responses to the RFP is Thursday, May 2. Applicants making the “short list” will be announced the week of May 6th, with proposer presentations scheduled May 20th and a Letter of Intent the week of June 3rd. The RFP notes that all dates are subject to change.

In support of the school’s commitment to reducing waste and “extraneous” use of natural resources, applicants were requested to submit their proposals on two-sided recycled paper containing 30% post-consumer waste. 

The RFP notes that the University has 141,000 “addressable” alumni. Also included are maps showing the heaviest concentrations of UofL alumni across the nation and in Kentucky and Indiana. The heaviest concentrations outside the region are in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and Atlanta.

Make that a Cardinal Brew for this observer.

Abrupt ending to Asia Durr era for Louisville women

Cindy Rice Shelton photo

Once again thoughts turn to next year for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

As Asia Durr goes, so goes the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. She’s done and so are the Cardinals in the 2018-19 season.

Durr would miss her first shot 15 seconds into the championship game of the NCAA regional at Albany, N.Y.  Following that one up with eight more misses in the first quarter, not making her first field goal until the beginning of the second quarter.

Louisville could not afford to have its leading scorer get off to a bad start, not against one women’s college basketball’s winningest programs. The worst fears of UofL fans quickly becoming evident, leading to a prolonged and painful realization that her journey was coming to an end.

Meanwhile, UConn’s Katie Samuelson, recently missing four games with back problems, having the game of her career with 29 points, including seven of 12 three-point attempts and a couple of circus shots. Take that Louisville, with those dreams of a national championship.

Durr would wind up with some impressive stats, too — 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists — but because the slow start, Louisville was trying to stay in the game for the most part. Her fellow seniors — Sam Fuehring and Arica Carter — contributing 15 and 10 points, respectively. 

UofL did manage to cut the deficit to two points at the 36-second mark, but the odds of winning were never encouraging. A disappointing end to a fabulous career, her team losing once again to UConn, this time by a score of 80-73.  

The Huskies again asserting their superiority in a series they have dominated by a 18-2 since the early nineties. Durr finishing her college career with 2,485 points, second only to Angel McCoughtry on UofL’s all-time scoring list. 

A magical career for career with some unforgettable moments for Asia Durr. Sad the journey ending a bit too soon.