Walz impressed by Louisville champs, on and off the court

In top photo, Myisha Hines-Allen and Sam Fuehring celebrate along with Coach Jeff Walz. Above, Sydney Zambrotta, Sam Fuehring, Asia Durr, Jessica Laemmle and Arica Carter with more of the same following their NCAA regional championship win at Rupp Arena [Cindy Rice Shelton photos].
Coach Jeff Walz welcomes Asia Durr after she departs the game with 18 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A special group of young women, with players getting along great together, adding one milestone after another, deserving everything they earn.

Before Jeff Walz arrived at the University of Louisville 11 seasons ago, the women’s basketball program had never been to the Sweet 16. He updated the record on Sunday, noting that every four-year player he has coached at UofL has been to the Final Four.

The Louisville women will so0n be hanging still another banner at the KFC Yum! Center in the near future.  A Final Four banner for sure, with still a shot at the ultimate, having already achieved one of the best seasons in the school’s history.

Jeff Walz holding Lucy and accompanied by Lola, her older sister. Those are assistants Stephanie Norman and Samantha Wiliams in background (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The Cardinals continued their impressive run in the 2018  NCAA Tournament with a dominating 76-43 win over Oregon State team in the Lexington Regional at Rupp Arena. A school record 36th win over the season against only two losses.  UofL moves to the Final Four for the third time in Coach Jeff Walz’ tenure.

The dominance was total, with the Cardinals forcing Oregon State into 17 turnovers and making only three themselves . UofL would outscore the Beavers 24-0 on turnovers.  Four of those steals coming in the third quarter when UofL would erupt, extending a seven-point halftime lead to 30 points.

Nobody wears that Final Four hat quite like Myisha Hines-Allen (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Louisville would also hold the Beavers, who were averaging nine 3-pointers a game, to only five in this one, and limiting them to only 15 field goals. Oregon State wrapped up the season with a 26-8 record.

Four Cardinals scored in double figures, led by 18 points from Asia Durr, the regional’s Most Outstanding Player.  Myisha Hines-Allen scored 16 points and made three steals. Sam Fuehring scored 14 and Carter added 10. Jazmine Jones scored all four of her points during that explosive third quarter.

 While Walz was thrilled with the effort, he said he was even more impressed with his team’s performance off the floor. “We truly do have young women who are wonderful role models to my children,” he said, pausing to gather himself. “That means more to me than winning basketball games.

“When my daughter is out there in the yard and tells me she’s Lola Hines-Allen, my other daughter tells me she’s Lucy Durr, and she tells mom ‘You’re going to be the official.’ The impact our players have on their lives means everything to me.

“It’s a wonderful experience to get back to the Final Four, and I want to thank the players for being the kind of people they are.”

Kylee Shook ready early, UofL women cruise in NCAA opener

Sam Fuehring clearing a path to the basket for teammate Dana Evans. (Cindy Rice Shelton photos)

Asia Durr not making shots? Myisha Hines-Allen not hitting? Two conference players of the year playing tentatively, not getting off to good starts in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

The UofL women attracting a solid following as March Madness consumes the Ville again. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)

Coach Jeff Walz will pull both of them quickly, letting them relax on the bench for a while. Kylee Shook and Dana Evans will see early action, along with Bionca Dunham. The University of Louisville women’s basketball team lives up to its  No. 1 seed in dismantling Boise State 74-42 at the KFC Yum! Center.

The game seemed to be tailor made for Shook. The 6-foot-4 sophomore would hit two 3-pointers within a minute, alternating between Jazmine Jones layups for a 19-8 lead before adding her own to make it 21-11.

Meanwhile, Sam Fuehring providing a intimidating presence on defense while cleaning up around the basket for another 14 points. Fuehring and Shook would pull down 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

All America Asia Durr attracting a crowd everywhere she goes during NCAA action (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Hines-Allen, never able to get going offensively, would wind up with only four points but still manage to get 14 rebounds. Arica Carter was passing out assists all afternoon, finding her teammates for seven baskets.

Asia Durr, unable to conceal her concern about her shooting touch from behind the 3-point line, still managing to get nine points. She was 0-4 on 3-point shots.

Durr attracts a lot of attention on and off the court. She needs to find her shot soon, return the favor to her teammates, if she and UofL are to make a serious run in the NCAA tournament.

Hines-Allen owns the day, Louisville women the ACC title

Your 2017-18 Atlantic Coast Conference champions pose for the official photo, celebrating a long awaited and deserved conference championship (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Myisha Hines-Allen was the first player on the ladder cutting the net following the University of Louisville women’s basketball team’s 81-49 win over Pittsburgh. A special day for Myisha and UofL, an exuberant ending to the regular season.

Myisha Hines-Allen prepares for her final regular season game at Louisville during pre-game ceremonies for the team’s only senior (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Senior Day for Hines-Allen, the only senior in the 2017-18 class, her family on hand, cousins and friends, along with 10,431 adoring fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The video tributes from fans began before the opening tip, continued throughout the game, and followed the cutting down of the nets.

Special day for the entire women’s basketball team as well, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, their first conference championship in 17 years. Officially they tied for first with Notre Dame but the nation saw the Cardinals trounce the Irish by 33 points in January.

There would be no distractions despite all of the attention. Hines-Allen could do no wrong in her final regular season game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 16 rebounds for the 43rd double-double in her four-year career. Her layup with 5:37 left in second quarter allowed her to pass Nell Knox (1,899 points) for third all-time in scoring for Louisville.

Jeff Walz gets that ACC conference championship for the 2017-18 season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

She would leave the game to a standing ovation at the 3:33 mark,  the applause continuing after play had resumed on the court. Afterwards she would pose for the team photo and foist an ACC championship high above her head, taking a victory lap around the court. She would catch the championship net from Coach Jeff Walz and wear it around her neck to the post-game press conference.

Asia Durr would do her part, of course, handing out six assists while making good on six 3-pointers on her way to a team high 20 points. But mostly she was happy for Hines-Allen, proclaiming, “”She’s a great player. I can’t wait to see her at the next level.”

But first, as Hines-Allen reminded everyone in the press conference, “We got more business to take care of. I’m not really shocked because I knew we were capable of winning, it’s just like it’s huge, senior game. I’m happy we were able to play for a championship on my senior day game and just to experience this.”

Louisville is 15-1 in conference play and 29-2 and is the No. 1 seed as it prepares for the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. The Cardinals earned a double bye and will play their first game at 2 p.m. Friday.

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.