All Shook up, Kylee leads Louisville women past Oregon

The kind of game every University of Louisville fan of the women’s basketball team was expecting from Dana Evans, wishing for from Kylee Shook. They were not disappointed in either case.

On a cold, wet day that was miserable from the waking moments all the way into late afternoon, it would fall upon the women to provide some reason for jubilation for UofL fans. Not quite monumental but close, UofL defeating No. 1-ranked Oregon 72-62.

Dana Evans would score 10 of her 17 points during a ferocious rally in the second quarter (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Reason for cheer on a day when Coach Scott Satterfield’s Cardinals were being humiliated by a bad Kentucky team in Lexington.

The eighth-ranked Louisville women weren’t supposed to have much of a chance against Oregon in the final game of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. The Ducks had defeated the U.S. national team a couple of weeks ago, were leading the nation in 26.8 assists per game, hitting 50 percent from the field, and out-rebounding opponents by more than 17 per game.

The Ducks discovered, however, that past performance is no guarantee of future success. The UofL women spotted Oregon with a nine-point lead, trailing 24-13 after the first quarter. The Cardinals would outscore them 24-8 in the second quarter to take a 37-32 lead at the half. UofL would never relinquish the lead, keeping the Ducks at arms length the rest of the way.

Shook would have her best game ever for UofL, posting her fourth double-double of the season, with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Against one of the best teams in the country. She’s come a long way from the end of the bench in the season’s opener to a dominating role as a starter in her latest outing.

Evans, who was named most valuable player in the invitational, was fearless against the Ducks, scoring 17 points and making six assists. She would contribute 10 points while UofL was staging that come-from-behind rally in the second quarter. She averaged 21.3 points in three games.

“We’ve got to get better,” said Coach Jeff Walz. “But it shows our kids that if you follow the scouting reports and play hard and play aggressive like we did tonight, we can play with anybody.”

Big sisters show the way for Louisville women

Jazmine Jones having way more than her share of fun, leading all scorers with 25 points, and the Louisville women would need every basket (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Hard to get worked up about Central Michigan, despite all the warnings from Coach Jeff Walz about how this ordinary looking team would give his University of Louisville women’s basketball team all it could handle.

Walz was right as usual, with Louisville having to fight, claw and scrap for 40 minutes before emerging with a 76-63 win before 7,605 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The visiting Chippewas hanging around all night, waiting for the Cardinals to falter but but it wasn’t going to happen.

Nobody celebrates a win better than Jazmine Jones (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

The veterans keeping the youngsters out of harm’s way, providing the knockout touches for UofL:

— Jazmine Jones with one of her best all-around performances, 10 of 13 , field goal attempts, four of five from the free throw line for a game-high 25 points. Complementing her game with nine rebounds, three steals and two assists. 

— Dana Evans refusing to wilt, hitting six of 18 field goal attempts, including two 3-pointers, and 10 of 11 from the free throw line for a career high 24 points. 

— Kylee Shook continuing to improve, picking up almost 26 minutes of playing time off the bench. Making the most of her time, with five field goals and five of six from the free throw line for 15 points. Her second consecutive double-double this year, thanks to those fabulous 12 rebounds. Those five blocks were amazing, too.

— Mykasas Robinson all business as usual, getting only one point but playing shutdown defense, coming up with three steals and two assists.

The upperclassman showing the newcomers what it takes to survive at times, improving UofL record to 3-0 for the season. Gonna need more help from the newcomers sooner than later.

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.

Record crowd of 800 for Louisville women’s tipoff luncheon

A record crowd of more than 800 people on hand Friday for the annual Tipoff Luncheon for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team at the Downtown Marriott. A following of UofL fans with some big expectations for the 2019-20 season.

Jeff Walz after winning the NCAA Regional in Lexington following the 2017-18 season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Coach Jeff Walz pleased with the expectations but possibly signaling that this team has a few challenges to overcome. That the current squad may behind some of his better teams coming out of the starting gate.

“You’re going to see a lot of new faces,” he said. “If you’re trying to go from one to 10, and 10 is the best at the end of the season, I’d say we’re starting about a two right now. The past couple years we had a lot of experience returning, making things a little easier, so we were starting at five. 

“We’re starting at two this season because we have six new players. We’re trying to get to know each other, trying to figure out who’s going to do what, who’s going to take over which responsibilities. Who’s going to be the one when we need a basket that is going to get the ball.”

Walz was making no predictions, except there are some exciting times ahead, starting with the season opener against Western Kentucky at the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday. Followed by four home games against Murray State, Central Michigan, UT Chattanooga and Boise State.

Louisville women’s basketball was third in NCAA attendance last season, attracting 162,021 fans or an average crowd of 9,531 for 17 games.  

Is Muffet more angry at men than disappointed in women?

Must be awful not to be a man, always a target of so much ongoing criticism.

Ann “Muffet” McGraw has all but suggested that her gender has an inferiority complex when it comes to the leadership roles men and women play generally in society. Expressing resentment that “men run the world, men have the power, men make the decisions.”

One has to wonder, however, what the coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team is really angry about — the prevalence of men who have embraced authority down through the years, or the comparative lack of women pursuing leadership positions.

McGraw decries the disparity, but she’s not very complimentary of women either, coming close to disparaging them for the shortcomings. “We don’t have enough female role models, we don’t have enough visible women leaders, we don’t have enough women in power,” she said during a recent press conference.

Before one labels her as a full-fledged man-hater, it should be noted she has been married to Matt McGraw for 42 years.  Their son Murphy was a fixture at many Notre Dame practices during his youth. 

She apparently believes the shortage is because of male dominance, criticizing men for allegedly not giving power to women. Yet in the next breath, the women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame would essentially do the same in reverse, saying she would no longer hire male assistants

One would have to conclude that McGraw would also be against hiring men as head coaches of women’s basketball teams. Despite the proven success of men like Geno Auriemma, winner of 11 national titles at UConn, or Jeff Walz, at the University of Louisville, with 11 NCAA appearances and three championship games in 12 seasons.

Missing out on coaches like Auriemma and Walz, who have earned the respect of their peers and players while sending numerous players to the professional ranks, would be a major blow to women’s basketball. 

McGraw, in her frustration with her perceived lack of progress, chooses to point fingers. She would do well to acknowledge how so many young women have benefitted from the commitment and dedication of male coaches.

She hurts her cause with constant criticism of the disparities, continuing to harange athletic directors and fellow coaches. The misplaced frustration and anger are not helpful to the sport, nor are they viable factors when it comes to hiring winning coaches.