A Few Softball Questions For Jeff Walz

Our intrepid reporter was not armed with any deep probing questions but she did gain some interesting insights into the mindset of Jeff Walz, coach of the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. She interviewed him a few weeks before Chauntise Wright was injured.

By Sonja Sykes
You’ve been the Lady Cards head coach for 20 months now. How are things going?
Our time in Louisville has been a very fast but exciting time.  So much has happened in such a short period that my staff and I are trying hard to make sure we enjoy every moment.  I am very fortunate to work for a great athletic department with Tom Jurich and Julie Hermann.  They have both made this a very smooth transition.

What’s the biggest challenge about being a head coach?
The hardest thing are the months May through September. During the season, the daily schedule is pretty much set and you know when your next trip is, who your next opponent is and you prepare.  The other months consist of lots of speaking engagements, RECRUITING and many nights spent out in the community.  I have loved every minute of my time here and once I get adjusted, I know it will become easier.

Where are you in regards to your career?
I am very excited where I am at this point.  I have had the opportunity to work at Western Kentucky, Nebraska, Minnesota and Maryland as an assistant before becoming the head coach at Louisville.  I know that my time at those four schools and winning a National Championship at Maryland helped me get ready for this job.

If you weren’t coaching basketball, what would you be doing?
If I was not coaching basketball I would be a teacher.  My undergraduate degree is in Secondary Education with and emphasis in Business Education and I have a Masters Degree in Education from Western Kentucky.

Do you get pre-game nerves, and if so, how do you overcome them?
I really don’t get pre-game nerves as a coach.  I used to more so as a player but have learned to relax more before the games as a coach.  I have a great staff and we prepare as hard as anyone to make sure our players are ready for game day.  When the players are prepared, it allows a coach to focus more on the game instead of being nervous.

Continue reading “A Few Softball Questions For Jeff Walz”

Angel McCoughtry: Pre-Season All American

University of Louisville forward Angel McCoughtry selected to Associated Press All-America first team

By Sonja Sykes

The Associated Press now acknowledges the skills of Angel McCoughtry but she says it’s not about her.

McCoughtry, a senior forward on the University of Louisville women’s basketball team, has been selected to the AP All-American first team. She collected the third most votes, behind Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris and UConn’s Maya Moore. It’s her second visit to the AP list, collecting second team honors last year.

It’s also a nod to the “Yes we can” philosophy that Angel carries with her these days about her and her teammates.

“I’m humbled by this honor. It was a dream of mine to bring national recognition to Louisville women’s basketball.” she commented yesterday. Note the wording of the statement. Not about her, not about the pride of the recognition, but about Louisville women’s basketball.

For Angel, the past two seasons have been all about the “yes we can…look what we can do” scenario. It was evident Monday night in the Lady Cards scrimmage. Barking out positioning and sets to the younger players on the court. Giving the high fives and hugs when teammates made big plays. Passing on shots to give other teammates the opportunity. In short, fulfilling the needs of the team, not the needs of the self.

Angel will be the “go to” crunch time player this year as she has been since her sophomore year. But she’ll do it in a team concept and won’t hesitate giving up the ball to the open player. Witness the Rutgers game last year in the Big East tournament. With seconds remaining and the game on the line, she was positioned…driving to the basket for a crucial shot..soaring through the air toward the hoop…and then tossing the ball to a wide open Candyce Bingham for an easy basket. It spoke volumes about the unselfishness, the team mind set and the maturity of the Cards leader.

Congratulations to Angel for another in a long list of accomplishments. An award and honor that she’ll enjoy briefly, and then return to the concentration and focus of making her team on the court the best they can be.

UofL Women Get First Look In Exhibition Game

The University of Louisville women’s basketball team kicks off the season with an exhibition game against the ASGR All-Stars this evening in Freedom Hall at 7 p.m. Not much is known about the opponent except that ASGR is an acronym for All Star Girls Report, and the roster consists of former college players from Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia Tech.

The Cards will play a lot of players and combinations as Coach Jeff Walz gets to see his players perform for the first time against someone other than themselves. UofL will be without the services of senior center Chauntise Wright, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during practice.

What will we see, and what should we expect? Returning starters Angel McCoughtry, Candyce Bingham and Brandie Radde take to the court with several reserves and five of the six freshman from the highest ranked recruiting class in Lady Cards history. Gwen Rucker is currently playing volleyball for the Cards and is not expected to dress.

With Keisha Hines the only true center on the roster, Coach Jeff Walz will try several different offensive sets and patterns, and have his players pushing the ball in fast break, get it to the hoop fashion. Dez Byrd has experienced stiff competition for the point guard slot and it will be interesting to see how Tiara Stephen looks running the offense.

Monique Reid and Becky Burke are legendary high school scoring machines, and fans will get a first look at them, as well as the rebounding and inside skills of Janae Howard. Mary Jackson hasn’t received as much preseason press as the other freshmen, but her guard play and defense could be an important part of the team, as the Cards take the court tonight ranked #10 in the nation.

If you can’t make the contest, Jim Kelch and Adrienne Johnson will have the call on 790 AM /101.7 FM WKRD. I’ll also offer a post game recap and commentary for Card Game. Go Lady Cards, get it started!

Big Detour For The Tise

Much of the fun of attending University of Louisville women’s basketball games the last two seasons has been watching Chauntise Wright have her way in the middle. With her 6-foot-3 wide body, she is an intimidating force for opposing centers, doing the pushing instead of the relenting, a force with which to be reckoned Unfortunately for Tise and her many fans, Chauntise went down hard Friday, suffering a season-ending torn ligament, a major blow in the gut to the Lady Cards.

By Sonja Sykes

Things that stand out about Chauntise “Tise”  Wright: Off the court are her big smile and playful nature. On the court she is calm and businesslike, a warrior dominating the paint on both ends of the court. Tise will need all of those qualities the next few months as she goes through surgery and rehabilitation … not only to keep mind and demeanor in tact, but for the sake of her teammates who begin the season without her in six days.

For Tise, it’s just one more delay in her journey at the University of Louisville and hopefully not her final destination.  Tom Collen recruited the Forestville, Maryland high schooler to Louisville with hopes of turning her into the type of dominating center that top teams in women’s college basketball usually have on their rosters. Collen already had a pretty decent pivot player already in Jazz Covington but he envisioned a future battleship in the middle.

The first season was delayed, Tise becoming eligible only after the fall semester. There were things for her to work on — a tuneup, if you will, before she got on the road. Weight to be lost, conditioning to work on, defensive skills to be  improved. There were the shining moments, 23 points and  9 rebounds in one game, but she couldn’t keep pace in games against powerhouse schools.

Tise she continued to work on her game along with Angel McCoughtry, another Maryland freshman, seemingly too skinny to have much of an impact. Angel and Tise began together, and they would be counted on as the journey continued. Continue reading “Big Detour For The Tise”

Get In Now

The crowd of 18,000 – the largest in college women’s basketball – that saw the Lady Cards challenge UConn last season was just a preview of things to come for University of Louisville women’s basketball.

Jeff Walz has a dynamite class of recruits joining Angel McCoughtry and some seasoned veterans next season. This program has already achieved under Walz and will only get better.

June 30th is the deadline to purchase season tickets for $50 each for next season. They will be going up after that, like everything else.

Buying women’s basketball tickets may well be the best option for some fans to gain entry into the new downtown basketball arena, scheduled to open in 2010.

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Ready for Football? – Not quite yet, thanks, but Frank Pos over at Hell In The Hall is trying to convince himself that he is. Take a couple of aspirins before you get his take on some of the recent influences on college football locally.