Punching bag Asia Durr for 32, UofL women topple Kentucky

Asia Durr gets an arm to the chest from Kentucky’s Tatyana Wyatt but still gets the basket on her way to 32 points (Photo by Cindy Rice Shelton).

The rivalry never gets old, never any lack of intensity.

Two of the best women’s basketball teams to compete in the Louisville vs. Kentucky rivalry, entering the game with identical 9-0 records. Cruising in the pre-conference season, each wanting another signature win. But mostly wanting to knock their rival from the ranks of the unbeaten.

UofL ranked fifth in the nation, UK 19th. Even more motivation for the Wildcats, wanting to move up in the poll, wanting the Cardinals to slide. Louisville equally fired up for Kentucky, the last thing UofL needs is a loss to the arch rival.

Louisville would win this showdown 80-75 before a crowd of 13,786 crowd of heavily red-clad fans at the KFC Yum! Center. It was UofL’s third straight in the series, and probably the most impressive win yet a team that could be among UK’s best in recent years.

UofL’s Asia Durr had to feel like a punching bag at times, a constant target for Kentucky defenders. Pushed, jostled and bumped, hassled and cajoled, every move challenged. By the end of the game, she had thrown up at least four air balls, something even Coach Jeff Walz found unfathomable.

Durr always shows up for the biggest games, however, and she arrived early in this one. She scored UofL’s first seven points and 17 in the first quarter, and a total of 24 points in the first half. She would pace all scorers with 32 points. She had the Wildcats playing catchup all afternoon.

Asia would deny being tired after the game, though she acknowledged that the game was more physical than most. “I love playing this game,” she said, not wanting to point fingers at anyone.

Sam Fuehring and Jazmine Jones adding 12 points apiece for Louisville, Bionca Dunham with 11 and Dana Evans with 10. Fuehring and Dunham claiming seven and five rebounds, respectively. Rhyne Howard led UK scorers with 25 points.

Gallery by Cindy Rice Shelton

Ugly Sweater Night lights up Louisville women’s basketball

Ugly Sweater Night for University of Louisville women’s basketball has always brought out the best in holiday cheer in the past and this year was no exception. All sorts of Christmas apparel was in evidence among the 7,104 fans on hand for  the recent game against Tennessee Martin.

Asia Durr led the way again, scoring 25 points in a 102-62 win that improved UofL’s won-loss record to 9-0 for the season. Arica Carter, Bionca Dunham and Dana Evans added 16, 14 and 11 points respectively. 

Sunday is Pack the House day as UofL entertains unbeaten Kentucky (9-0) at 2 p.m. Tickets for $4 are available at the UofL ticket office with a Kroger Plus Card.

Ugly Sweater Night photos by Cindy Rice Shelton.

 

Will he or won’t he? Pitino or not for the Kentucky Oaks

One person was conspicuously missing as the Thoroughbreds worked out early Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. Conspicuous because he would normally be vying for media attention.

Rick Pitino nowhere to be seen. But there was his horse, Coach Rocks, the  filly he co-owns. Under the watchful eye of local trainer Dale Romans and with jockey Luis Saez in the saddle. Preparing for the Kentucky Oaks.

Sad for her biggest fan.

Odds on Rick Pitino showing up at Churchill Downs could be good (Charlie Springer photo).

Pitino should be here, enjoying all of the Kentucky Derby activities that make Louisville the place to be for celebrities from around the world during the first week in May.

But the University of Louisville basketball coach for 16 years says he isn’t coming back to the city, not as long as David Grissom and John Schnatter are UofL Trustees.

 His horse overtook the favorite Take Charge Paula in her last start, winning by eight lengths in the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 3.  Coach Rocks has been tabbed at 12-1 odds for the Kentucky Oaks on Friday and will be in the No. 2 post position.

Romans isn’t entirely convinced that Pitino will not be in the winner’s circle if Coach Rocks were to finish in first place. “We would love for him to be here,” he said.

Neither is Roddy Valente, the owner of RAP Racing and leading investor in Coach Rocks. “He’s going to Churchill Downs, believe me,” Valente told Bloodhorse Magazine. “He said he was never going back to Kentucky after he lost the job. He can throw that right out the door right now. He’ll be there with me.”

Pitino has been known to do the opposite of what he says he going to do. More often than not.

 

Familiar script for Louisville women against UConn

The big stage, the bright lights blinding and numbing, the touring actors fumbling their lines, trying to ad lib their way.

Panic time in those first 10 minutes, the University of Louisville women’s basketball team committing nine turnovers, missing 12 of 14 field goal attempts. UConn up 24-6 after the first quarter. Game over.

Familiar script against the Huskies. Starts out innocently enough, with a turnover leading to a quick UConn basket. Between all the empty trips down court for the Cardinals, there is one turnover, another and still another, the Huskies converting all of them into points. 

The outcome never in doubt after the initial surge although the margin was only 11 points in UConn’s 69-58 win over visiting Louisville in front of 10,000-plus. Just another night at Gampel Pavillion where the Huskies have won 76 straight home games.

Some might find some consolation in the fact that the UofL women outscored UConn 38-27 in the second half. They would have to acknowledge that the Huskies were never seriously threatened. Had they been, would there have been still another surge?

Coach Jeff Walz may have convinced his pupils that they could play with UConn after the first quarter, and they did hang around.  By then it was too late, his charges totally unprepared and unequipped to handle the initial mugging.

Lots of talk after the game about the Cardinals having learned some lessons and knowing what they had to work on the rest of the season. You know, just in case they run into UConn during the post-season. 

The Cardinals obviously learned a lot about themselves, absorbing one blow after another to their collective psyche. Pretty obvious that it’s going to take more than just trading baskets with UConn for a couple of quarters to ever seriously threaten the Huskies.

Digging up dirt on Jurich latest insult to University of Louisville

UofL supporters have endured an avalanche of bad news and insults in the past couple of years but none that have embarrassed the University more than the latest indignity.  About as low it gets, one has to be humiliated on behalf of the school.

Just when one believes the temporary administration might be restoring a sense of civility and normality at the University of Louisville, here comes the word that someone at UofL is complicit with a law firm using a private detective agency to dig up dirt on Tom Jurich.  

Someone is going to say such investigations are routine in lawsuits against individuals and they may be right. However, in this case it is more of a blatant, awkward and misguided attempt to damage his reputation. Of all the revelations and events that have occurred since Jim Ramsey was forced to resign as UofL President in August 2016, this is the most shocking. That Jurich would be the subject of an investigation is beyond comprehension, showing just how far some will go to discredit an individual. 

Tom Jurich embraces UofLBaseball Coach Dan McDonnell for his continuing success in NCAA regional competition.

That’s Tom Jurich, mind you, the squeaky clean former Vice President of Athletics at the school. The same individual who took a struggling athletic department and made it a model of success. Made UofL nationally competitive in 22 sports. Built an athletic complex that is the envy of college athletics, taking the budget from $9 million in 1997 to more than $100 million today.

Stoll, Keenon, Ogden, a regional law firm representing the university against Jurich, has not admitted that it has hired a private investigation agency, citing client-attorney privilege.  One would have been surprised if they had acknowledged it, especially if an investigation is not yielding anything useful. 

Instead of acknowledging what has been accomplished, Postel continues to seek to destroy Jurich's reputation.

Someone involved with the probe from a detective agency approached the Courier-Journal seeking info about “any allegations of sexual harassment between Jurich and females involved with the University.” As if the C-J would not have already plastered any hints of sexual harassment all over the front page for at least two weeks. It’s what the C-J does but that didn’t occur to the so-called detectives.

The University is obviously facing a major challenge in finding evidence to support its charges of “willful misconduct” and “ineffective management, divisive leadership, unprofessional conduct,” and “intimidation and bullying” in the letter delivered to Jurich in October.

Interim President Greg Postel has denied any knowledge of a private investigation. Board Chairman David Grissom and Board Member John Schnatter never respond to the media . But they will rightfully incur the wrath of angry Louisville fans and alumni for this latest blow to the University’s integrity and reputation.

The last thing Postel needed was for Jurich to be the target of a criminal investigation. He had already angered a large segment of the UofL by firing the most respected administrator in the school’s 220-year history. His  attempted dismantling of TJ’s legacy will come back to haunt him.

He’s currently competing for two major leadership posts, including the permanent office of UofL President and permanent Executive Vice President of Health Affairs. Instead of acknowledging what has been accomplished, Postel continues to seek to destroy Jurich’s reputation. That should be unacceptable to anyone who has witnessed UofL’s growth in athletics over the past two decades.