Jeff Walz not awarding any participation trophies

Cornee Walton (left) comes to the aid of Asia Durr after Asia suffers a cramp in Thursday's game against Maryland ( Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Cornee Walton (left) comes to the aid of Asia Durr after Asia suffers a cramp in Thursday’s game against Maryland ( Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The heart of the schedule has arrived for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team and the Cardinals are learning some hard lessons. The latest a 78-72 loss to Maryland.

UofL showed some grit in rallying from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarters to twice take the lead. Didn’t faze Maryland, with Brenda Frese chalking up her third win against former assistant Jeff Walz in four tries. 

Briahanna Jackson had a busy night with 8 assists, 3 steals, 5 rebounds and 9 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Briahanna Jackson had a busy night with 8 assists, 3 steals, 5 rebounds and 9 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A disappointed Jeff Walz would question his team’s heart and desire to win. “Personally I hate losing more than I like winning,” said Walz. “Young people today are used to just showing up getting participation trophies just for playing. Just showing up is going to get you beat.”

With Asia Durr leading the way, UofL would build a 24-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.  She was open early and often, scoring 17 of her team high 20 points in the first 20 minutes, keeping her team within four points of the visiting Terrapins at half time.

Miserable shooting night for the rest of the Louisville women who could make only 31 of 79 (33.3%) field goals attempts. Shot after shot falling short of the rim most of the night.  Maryland, meanwhile, was 25 of 54, or a 61.5% clip.

The Cardinals were outrebounded 48-35 by the smaller Terrapins and could connect on only 6 of 14 free throw attempts.

Myisha Hines-Allen, picked pre-season ACC player of the year, regained some of her shooting form in the second half, winding up with 16 points. 

Nobody questioning Briahanna Jackson’s desire to win. She would have eight assists and three steals while contributing 9 points.

After six straight wins to open the season, UofL has lost two straight and is staring down the muzzle of a loaded Kentucky team on Sunday. The Wildcats are 8-1 and have won five straight games over UofL and six out of the last seven in the series.

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Bench propels Louisville basketball past Purdue

Ray Spalding setting the tone in the first half (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Ray Spalding setting the tone in the first half (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Have to be a little more confident about the future for the University of Louisville basketball team with the bench playing an integral role in UofL’s 71-64 win over Purdue. That’s a luxury UofL hasn’t enjoyed in recent seasons.

— Sophomore Ray Spalding leading the reinforcements, playing with newfound confidence and efficiency. Having the game of his UofL career after relieving Jaylen Johnson. He would set the tone in the first half, making all five of his field goal attempts and pull down nine rebounds. He would win up with 11 points in the game.

— Anas Mahmoud, a junior already, stepping in for Mangok Mathiang, still perfecting that move to the basket, making all four of his field goal attempts and winding up with nine points. He would also be credited with two assists, a block and a steal.

— Redshirt freshman Ryan McMahon coming through when the Cardinals needed him most, light out on his two 3-point attempts and two free throws. If Coach Rick Pitino needed to have more confidence in McMahon, he should have been convinced in his performance against Purdue.

— Senior Mangok Mathiang with perhaps his best start ever. Every basket he makes is a bonus, some of them unbelievable in this game. Splitting defenders, making hook shots, jumpers, even a scoop shot, he would make five of 11 field goal attempts, winding up with 11 points. He would also pull down eight rebounds and be credited with an assist and a steal.

 Not a great night for freshman V. J. King, who missed all three of his field goal attempts. But nobody doubts his time is coming, and that could happen any game now. That will make the bench even stronger.

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Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion has begun

Editor’s Note: The following has been edited to include updated information on Messer Construction.

Most University of Louisville football fans are still attempting to recover from those two bitter losses at the end of the regular season. A disappointing end to what at times held the promise being the best season ever.

The hangover is a natural reaction to some dashed expectations and is only temporarily. Despite the trainwreck at the end, UofL football was in contention for a college football playoff spot for much of the season. Close to competing for a national championship. Sooner or later, fans will draw strength from that fact.

Messer Construction's command center has been set up outside Gate 9.
Messer Construction’s command center has been set up outside Gate 9.

That’s why Tom Jurich is moving ahead with the $55 million expansion plans for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, which will include an additional 10,000 seats, including 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes and 12 exclusive field-level suites.

Construction crews have already been doing preliminary work on the lawn of the football complex just outside the stadium. Security fencing has been installed, some trees and shrubbery have been removed, and several holes have been dug, apparently for preliminary electrical work.

Coming to your stadium in August 2018.
Coming to your stadium in August 2018.

A Louisville-based unit of Messer Construction, which built the Thornton’s Academic Center for Excellence, has set up a command facility just outside Gate 9 on North side of the stadium.

Messer Construction also is involved in a major expansion of Audubon Hospital on Poplar Level Road, the Old Forester Distillery on Main Street, and Thornton’s new corporate headquarters on Old Henry Road.

Sports Information Director Kenny Klein confirmed that the crews began work on Monday, as Jurich had promised back in June when he announced an expected completion date of August 6, 2018. That would be about three weeks before the regular season home opener against Notre Dame.

Klein said the crews are doing preliminary preparatory work. “It will be a while before the heavy cranes arrive,” he said. “But, yes, the stadium expansion project is underway.”

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Soccer team comes through for UofL, on to the Elite 8

Having sat through three consecutive University of Louisville losses over the extended holiday weekend, one was more than little apprehensive about showing up for the UofL-Notre Dame soccer NCAA tournament game on Sunday.

Mohamed Thiaw put UofL ahead in the first half with his 12th goal of the season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Mohamed Thiaw put UofL ahead in the first half with his 12th goal of the season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Losses to Baylor in men’s basketball on Friday, Kentucky in football on Saturday, and South Carolina in women’s basketball on Sunday. A dark weekend for UofL athletics.

Why risk more disappointment? Probably because the soccer team has L-o-u-i-s- v-i-l-l-e on the front of the jersey and this UofL fan believes his team is always going to win the next game. 

The Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium turned out to be the perfect place to shake the doldrums, with more than 1,858 fans in attendance. Their enthusiasm embodied in the raucous group of students behind the east goal who never stopped singing. 

The Louligans bring a raucous atmosphere to the Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
The Louligans bring a raucous atmosphere to the Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The UofL soccer team would not disappoint any of them. The decisive goal coming at the 19:53 mark in the second half — an in-your-face boomer by sophomore Tate Schmitt of a corner kick by his classmate Danny Reynolds. 

Freshman Cherif Dieye would break free for another goal with six seconds remaining to seal a 3-1 victory over Notre Dame. The win sends Louisville to the NCAA’s Elite Eight for the first time in four years and the fourth time in the seven years.

Louisville soccer ending the weekend on a high note, evoking memories of a deep tournament run in 2010, creating the vision of some special magic over the next couple of weeks. The Cardinals will next clash with Stanford here on Saturday .

UofL fans needed some positive news and the soccer team was happy to oblige.

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Jackson fumble leads to another Louisville stumble

Was it just a couple of weeks ago that the University of Louisville football team was considered a serious contender for the 2016 college football playoffs? Reality took a while to catch up, shattering any and all illusions or disillusions.  

Kirk Herbstreit, of ESPN, had UofL listed third in his rankings back then, saying on air that he believed the Cardinals were capable of beating top-ranked Alabama. There were lots of people who agreed with him, including those who made Louisville third in the Associated Press poll.

Another rocky day for Lamar Jackson in the season finale (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Another rocky day for Lamar Jackson in the season finale (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Quarterback Lamar Jackson, like his University of Louisville football team, is looking all too fallible these days. Either he’s not as good as was once considered or most teams have figured out how to slow him down considerably.

Two weeks ago, Jackson was considered a virtual shew-in for Heisman Trophy honors, the “lock of all locks,” considered by Las Vegas to be a 1-50 favorite for college football’s most coveted award.  He was at that point considered all but invincible.

The outlook changed dramatically when Louisville fell victim to Houston in a devastating 36-10 loss, exposing all of UofL’s weaknesses, knocking the Cardinals out of any serious discussion about the nation’s best football teams this season.

Jackson a mere shadow of his national perception in the loss, managing to make only 20 of 43 passes while rushing for only 33 yards. His team would register only one touchdown while Jackson was getting sacked 11 times.

Just when one couldn’t imagine things getting any worse, things did get worse on Saturday. Louisville was knocked off by arch-rival Kentucky 41-38 before a crowd of 54,075 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

When he wasn’t scorching UK’s defense, Jackson was keeping the Wildcats in the game. He would have three costly interceptions and would cough up the ball in the final minute that would lead to the winning field goal.

UofL’s slumping performance in recent weeks, along with Jackson’s problems, may have an impact on the Heisman race. The national sports media, being what it is, thrives on creating drama when none may actually exist.

The Heisman Trophy is generally associated with winners and national contenders, with an individual player usually receiving a lot of credit for his team’s success. Louisville is free fall now, no longer in contention, plummeting in the polls. 

Jackson has not done himself any favors in the past two games, making many Heisman voters scratch their heads, looking for possible reasons to reconsider their votes.

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