Kimble more comfortable in new role at Louisville

Coach Chris Mack was mentally preparing his halftime remarks with his team falling farther behind during the first half against Wake Forest, the last place team in the ACC (Cindy Rice Shelton photos)>

One has to conclude that Lamarr Kimble has become comfortable now with his role on the University of Louisville basketball team, following UofL’s hard fought 86-76 win over Wake Forest.

Ryan McMahon makes good on this 3-point attempt and a free throw for a four-point trip during a second half comeback (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Kimble, a graduate transfer who was a co-captain for three seasons and a two-year starter at St. Joseph’s, played a key role in Louisville’s 21st win before a crowd of 15,270 at the KFC Yum! Center.

He would score UofL’s first four points in the second half, sending a signal that the Cardinals weren’t going to roll over. Reducing the deficit to 11 points and changing the momentum of the game. Five minutes later, he was pulling a rebound, throwing a full-length court pass to Jordan Nwora, his teammate making the dunk that would give Louisville the lead.

Jordan Nwora the leading scorer for Louisville with 21 points, including the dunk that capped a comeback in the second half (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

That go-ahead pass to Nwora following a 3-point goal by Ryan McMahon, the player Kimble replaced a few games ago. McMahon was fouled on the play, hitting the free throw for a four-point trip.

Kimble has played with increasing confidence in recent games, affirming the trust Coach Chris Mack has instilled in him. He is beating the college basketball odds, retaining his starting position despite some impressive performances by freshman David Johnson.

Kimble scored a total of 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and was credited with four assists.

Nwora would lead all scorers with 21 points, making five of eight from deep and six of 12 overall. Dwayne Sutton added 15 points and 11 rebounds, McMahon 12 points and Steven Enoch and Malike Williams 11 points apiece. 

McCoughtry continues comeback against her old team

Angel McCoughtry kissing KFC Yum! Center floor – Cindy Rice Shelton photo

Former UofL star Angel McCoughtry is closely guarded by current favorite Jazmine Jones under the watchful eyes of Coach Jeff Walz in the Team USA vs. Louisville exhibition game. Jones led Louisville in scoring with 12 points (Mike DeZarn photo).
Angel McCoughtry applauds the crowd of 12,008 who welcomed her back to Louisville on Sunday (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Almost 10 years after she was the No. 1 draft pick of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, Angel McCoughtry returned as a contender for a Team USA position against her former University of Louisville basketball team on Sunday.

An important game for numerous reasons for McCoughtry, including the fact that she had led the Cardinals to their first NCAA Final Four appearance during her senior year. But there’s more at stake this year because she is seeking a comeback after injuring a knee in 2018 season. She did not see any action during the 2019 season.

Dan Evans with two of her 10 points against Team USA. She also had six assists and five rebounds (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Louisville still occupies a strong place in McCoughtry’s heart. She left to a standing ovation from the crowd of 12,008 after scoring 11 points in 21 minutes, kneeling to plant a kiss on the KFC Yum! Center floor. Far from certain that she will make the Olympic team but McCoughtry was ecstatic playing against her old team.

“What a great experience. The arena was full of people, and that just shows you how far we’ve come,” said McCoughtry. “Louisville looks great and I expect them to go deep in the tournament. They play so fast and I think that’s why they beat a lot of teams.”‘

The Cardinals scored 10 unanswered points midway through the opening quarter and a jumper by Mykasa Robinson put them up 19-13.  Far too much talent on the WNBA squad, however, catching up in the second quarter and putting the game out of reach in the third quarter. Final score: Team USA 97, Louisville 54.

Jazmine Jones finished with 12 points for UofL on 4-9 shooting, while Dana Evans had  10 points and six assists .

A timely learning experience for the Cardinals who are 21-1 overall and 10-0 in the ACC.  The beating a reminder that the UofL women had much room to improve as they prepare for a showdown against Florida State (18-4, 7-4) on Thursday at the Yum! Center.

The teams got together at center court after the celebrate top flight women’s basketball in Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Damion Lee good fit at Golden State, nabs 3-year deal

Damion Lee doing well in the NBA, thank you.

By Anna Lucas

Damion Lee is making a name for himself in the NBA. The former University of Louisville basketball player is receiving unprecedented playing time with the Golden State Warriors this season.

Lee has appeared in 28 games, including 15 starts, for the Warriors through January 20. The six-foot-five swingman is averaging 12.5 points and 27.4 minutes per game. He’s found a versatile niche with the team as a strong scorer off the bench and solid option at either backcourt spot or small forward.

Lee’s reassuring performance comes at a vulnerable time for Golden State. There’s no sugarcoating the lackluster showing of the Warriors this season as owners of the worst record in the NBA. The once-mighty club is battling through injuries to stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Oddschecker now pegs Golden State as the underdogs to teams they easily beat a year ago, like the Utah Jazz.

 One of the few silver linings has been the opportunity for Lee to contribute long-term in the pros, something he’s been chasing for several seasons. Lee’s path to the NBA was anything but a slam dunk as the pros who make NBA picks for a living didn’t project Lee to be drafted.

A Solid Contract for a Solid Contributor

The Warriors recently rewarded Lee with a three-year contract on January 15. His 45 days of NBA eligibility expired earlier in the month, and he was forced to miss two games.

The deal places him exclusively in the NBA for the first time and includes a partial guarantee for the 2020-21 season. Golden State waived and re-signed Marquese Chriss to a two-way contract to make room for Lee’s pact.

The 27-year-old celebrated his new career stability with a highlight night on January 16 at home against the Denver Nuggets. Lee posted 21 points, 6 assists, and 5 boards as Golden State pushed Denver into overtime before dropping the game 134-131.

Continue reading “Damion Lee good fit at Golden State, nabs 3-year deal”

Bionca Dunham at her best against Pittsburgh

Bionca Dunham photo by Cindy Rice Shelton

Bionca Dunham has started all 20 games for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. She’s not a prolific scorer or rebounder so she doesn’t garner that much attention but Dunham makes her presence felt around the basket.

Jeff Walz happy with a balanced scoring attack with six Louisville players in double figures (Mike DeZarn photo).

UofL got off to a slow start against Pittsburgh on Sunday, falling behind 5-2 early, not getting a field goal until the 8:38 mark in the first quarter. That would be Bionca scoring her team’s first four points, hitting two free throws and making a layup.

Lots of games over four years, but few as fun as this one.

Dunham would have one of her better games in her Louisville career, scoring 12 points, grabbing six rebounds, making five assists and a steal. Louisville would defeat Pittsburgh 83-49 before a crowd of 11,624 at the KFC Yum! Center. UofL is now 20-1 overall and 8-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A young Louisville fan has much to look forward in the years ahead (Mike DeZarn photo).

Elizabeth Balogun, Dana Evans, and Kylee Shook also scored 12 points apiece for the Cardinals, while Jazmine Jones added 11 points and Elizabeth Dixon chipped in 10. A well-balanced attack with Louisville credited with a total of 23 assists.

The Cardinals will play Notre Dame on Thursday night in South Bend, Ind., and then will host the USA Basketball Women’s National Team next Sunday at 2 p.m.

 

McDonnell again raises expectations for UofL baseball

Former UofL baseball players Will Smith, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Brendon McKay, of the Tampa Bay Rays, shared their experiences (Mike DeZarn photos)

By Barbara Springer

Seven words.

“Grass. Track. Wall.”
“That ball is gone!”

Words from play-by-play announcer Sean Moth that get University of Louisville baseball fans on their feet, roaring. Words that inspire and challenge baseball players to strive even harder. Words to drive this team all the way to Omaha.

Ranked number one by D1 baseball, this 2020 team begins competition February 14 following a 51-18 record last season. The 2019 team made it to the semifinals of the College World Series, their fifth trip in Coach Dan McDonnell’s 13 seasons here. He begins this season with four seniors to lead a team heavy with freshmen and sophomores.

Junior pitcher Adam Elliott was awarded the Muhammad Ali Leadership Scholarship by Ali’s widow, Lonnie Ali (Mike DeZarn photo).

Last year’s team had its highest final ranking in program history, with a No. 3 ranking, and the winningest program in all of Division 1 baseball. Moreover, the players posted the most conference wins since 2015 among Power 5 programs. Fifteen former Cards have made Major League debuts since 2014.

Coach McDonnell announced during the team’s Leadoff Dinner Friday evening that the motivational theme this season is “Somewhat Higher.” Since August, the fall semester GPA was a record 3.35, with 25 hours of community service per athlete. The players enjoyed a team-building trip to the Dominican Republic last fall, stretching themselves as they worked with children in teaching and fun, as well as community service. Coach Mac recalled the trip, saying it “opens your heart and lights a flame. Keep it lit and serve in Louisville.”

Al Greener, the UofL Pep Band Director who plays the organ at games, was doing his thing.

Just a few years ago, at a luncheon, McDonnell spoke to the challenges of luring quality players to Louisville, where the season may very well begin on a cold and rainy day. Or with snow falling. When the stands might be fairly empty on a weekday night. But, somehow, he has found a way to convince prospects to take a chance, to challenge themselves.

Maybe he has succeeded because of the facilities, which have undergone dramatic transformations in the last few years. Maybe the attraction is the coaching staff, which has remained very stable.

Maybe recruits and their parents want to be a part of the program’s notable successes. Maybe even the caliber of the opponents is the attraction.

Whatever, he has succeeded, and with all the pageantry and fanfare and video excitement of the evening plus the presence of former players and current pros, the coaching staff pulled out all the stops and brought the legendary Brendan McKay and Will Smith out. Both have their faces and numbers on that outfield wall at Jim Patterson Stadium.

McKay made his big league debut last June on the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays, while Smith took his position behind the plate in May for the LA Dodgers. The audience enjoyed listening to their conversational Q&A with emcee Moth for 30 minutes.

It is a given that fans in the audience Friday night will show up at Patterson Stadium, even for a cold February or March game, waiting, no, expecting to hear GRASS. TRACK. WALL. THAT BALL IS GONE!

Seven words.

Omaha Bound