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.  

Louisville men and women’s teams go with Donovan Mitchell shoes

Donovan Mitchell left Louisville for the NBA following the 2017-18 season. His shoes were on full display during the exhibition game against Bellarmine (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Donovan Mitchell was between NBA games with the Utah Jazz and couldn’t physically make it for the exhibition game on Tuesday.  But his presence was felt by members of the University of Louisville basketball team.

Most, if not all, of the Louisville players were wearing a version of an Adidas line of shoes — red, yellow or black with pink soles — named in honor of Mitchell and provided to the UofL program. The Mitchell line has been designated as D.O.N. Issue No. 1, the letters standing for “Determination Over Negativity.”

Sports Information Director Kenny Klein confirmed that both the UofL men’s and women’s teams will be wearing Mitchell’s  shoes during the 2019-20 basketball season. “UofL will be the only college basketball teams using the style,” he said.

Mitchell, who left UofL after two seasons, is entering his third season in the NBA after averaging 20.5 and 23.8 points, respectively, during his first and second seasons. He is one of the youngest players ever to have his own line of Adidas shoes.

The former UofL star wanted his shoes to be more affordable to as many  kids as possible and are usually priced under $100. They can be purchased for as little as $43 at DHGate, a Chinese retail site and Card Game advertiser. 

My biggest thing, I just wanted kids to be able to have it,” he told Forbes Magazine. “Growing up as a kid, I loved all of these athletes and I couldn’t afford their shoes.” 

Mitchell often gives his shoes away to young fans following Utah games. Just this week he presented a pair of his newest “Mailman” style to a young Jazz fan involved in a fight for his life against brain cancer.

Sutton comes up big for Louisville against Bellarmine

Samuell Williamson (top photo) arrives on the Louisville basketball scene with his first dunk in an exhibition game against Bellarmine. Coach Chris Mack counsels Darius Perry and Ryan McMahon (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Dunking

What life would be like for the University of Louisville basketball team without any legitimate big men was on full display in all of its aches and pains in an exhibition game on Tuesday. UofL struggling to defeat Bellarmine 75-65 before 15,009 at the KFC Yum! Center.

Jordan Nwora with two of his 28 points in the exhibition win over Bellarmine University (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Neither Steven Enoch and Malik Williams available because of injuries, the Cardinals never able to assert any dominance. Who would have envisioned Dwayne Sutton playing the five spot?  The team closely resembling the one that struggled so many times last season. Just big enough, strong enough and fast enough to avoid a second half letdown.

Nothing against Bellarmine, which is going to be a dominant team during its last season in Division 2 basketball. If Louisville is to live up to its pre-season billing, in the top five in numerous polls, the healing and the fulfilling of potential has to begin soon.

Of the highly-regarded freshman class, only Samuell Williamson started, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds in 34 minutes.  Josh Nickelberry, Jae’Lyn Withers, Quin Slazinski and Aiden Igihon were held scoreless in their collective 20 minutes.

Jordan Nwora was there every time he was needed, with a better overall game, scoring a game-high 28 points, with five assists, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Expanding his game to include other elements necessary for UofL’s success this season.

Sutton pretty convincing in the “big man” role, coming through with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Typical of Sutton, ready to take on any role, eager to make his presence felt, impose his will if necessary.

Going to need some of the big guys for real with the bruising schedule coming up, starting with that Atlantic Coast Conference opener again Miami next week.

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton:

Weather ne’er a factor in Louisville win over Virginia

Lots of threatening clouds and continuing gusts of wind. Menacing threats all week long from the TV weather guys. Not all that much to be concerned about, however, for diehard University of Louisville football fans at Cardinal Stadium.

Most of the moisture falling in the last five minutes, amounting to not much more than a mild distraction. Louisville claiming still another win in the Atlantic Coast Conference, all three conference wins going down to the final seconds, the final play.  The Cardinals finally prevailing, 28-21, improving to 3-2 in the conference and 5-3 overall.

After the win, a Louisville team now needing  only one more to be bowl eligible. A team skipping the “needing to learn how to win” phase, rejecting the underdog role, already competitive under the first year coach Scott Satterfield.

The UofL offense shredding a Virginia defense with 227 yards on the ground, against a defense that was allowing only 96 yards per game this season. The Cardinals added 133 more in the air for a total of 360 yards while allowing the Cavaliers 311 yards offensively.

Javian Hawkins became the first UofL freshman ever to exceed 100 yards in five consecutive home games. He was good for 136 yards in 28 carries, including two touchdowns. His final touchdown run of 17 yards at the 2:41 mark providing the margin of victory.

Malik Micale Cunningham staying healthy for an entire game, rushing for 114 yards himself, including a rushing touchdown, while connecting on six of 10 passing attempts for 126 yards. One of those a touchdown heave to Tutu Atwell on a 77-yard pass play.

“Number one, I don’t think we’re good enough to go and blow teams out. We have to fight and claw for everything we get. That’s why every yard we get, we’re not sliding, we’re trying to get it. That’s the way we are offensively,” said Satterfield.  “We’re a scrappy bunch. We’re playing for each other and sometimes you’re going to win games like this. Believe me, I would much rather win by three touchdowns…”

Probably one of the more enjoyable games against a highly regarded opponents at Cardinal Stadium in recent years. A shame so many of the Cardinal faithful were intimidated by the weather forecasts. The bandwagon effect should be spilling over at the final home game against Syracuse.

Louisville fans connect on road to Logan Pass

While on a recent vacation, the Springers bump into some rabid University of Louisville fans Gerry Artale and Wayne Smith at Glacier National Park in Montana.

A long way from Louisville, 1,857 miles per Google, making our way to the top of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. Negotiating the long and winding turns of a narrow two-lane highway while hoping to see the grizzly bears, moose, mountain goats and Bighorn sheep.

Along the way to the top, stopping briefly at a scenic overlook. Quiet. Peaceful. The view inspiring and despite low-hanging clouds and drizzle. We have arrived, away from it all. A vista of water, forests and mountains, taking time to savor the magnificence.

The silence is suddenly broken by a voice proclaiming, “Hey, we found some Louisville Cardinal fans.”

Wait. What.

Coming toward us on the rocky incline is a smiling couple, the guy wearing a familiar UofL baseball cap like mine. It’s Wayne Smith and Gerry Artale, having made their way to this remote spot in Montana from  Cornelius, a small town just north of Charlotte, NC. A gathering of Louisville fans in an unlikely place, eager to share UofL stories.

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