Who is the No. 1 fan of the University of Louisville? Far be it for me to presume who should be given that distinction. There would be so many extraordinary candidates, each of them fiercely loyal to UofL athletics.
It could even be a group of fans, possibly the Red Rage Tailgate team, headed by James Durst, Josh Stinson and Dave Magee, with their converted bus serving free Bloody Marys, doughnuts, hamburgers, ribs and hot dogs to UofL fans at home and away football games.
How about Ron Thomas who drives the antique fire truck loaded with fans circling the Green Lot with sirens blaring before each home football game.
Or Ken Richardson, of the End Zone Express, who has converted a former EMS vehicle into the ultimate tailgating machine with a state-of-the-art sound system?
Kade McClure had to endure five innings of cold and rainy conditions Tuesday afternoon, soaked to the bone, wondering if and when the University of Louisville baseball bats were ever going to come to life.
U of L was trailing 2-0 going in the sixth inning, some fans wondering if Indiana University was destined for a fourth straight win over Louisville. To make matters worse, the strike zone seemed to be a moving target, with so many unpredictable calls.
Not to worry for all that long for McClure. His teammates would come through just as they have all season long, exploding for seven hits and eight runs in that inning to put the game all but out of reach for the stunned visitors.
The win was the 11th of the season against no losses for McClure who struck out 10 batters while giving up only five hits. The win raised UofL’s midweek record to 13-0 and improved the overall record to 43-10 for the season.
“Onuaku wants to go pro. He had a good combine. I would say he’ll stay in draft.”
The candid assessment on whether Chinanu Onuaku would return to the University of Louisville was coming from Coach Rick Pitino in an interview with Terry Meiners on WHAS Radio on Monday. The coach originally thought Onuku would go through the process, identify some weaknesses and come back and improve his game.
Not working out that way for Chinanu. Shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who has paid much attention to his comments during the NBA combine. Typical 19-year-old kid caught up in the excitation of the camps, the accompanying media frenzy, and the possibility of some big bucks.
Despite all the time he spent on the bench last season, Onuaku was making significant progress. He came close to a season double-double average, scoring 9.9 points while retrieving 8.5 rebounds per game. He averaged only 24 minutes per game because he was so foul prone.
Louisville would be a better team with Onuaku, especially if his offensive game improved as much as it did between his freshman and sophomore seasons. That never seemed to carry over to his game on defense, unable to resist those moving picks, and he averaged only 24 minutes per game.
Not that big a loss if Onuaku doesn’t return, however. The expectation of UofL being a national contender shouldn’t change. Especially if his former backups Mangok Mathiang, Anas Mahmoud and Matz Stockman continue to improve, as each of them did last season. None of them will be in danger of fouling out early every game, that’s for sure.
Onuaku will be drafted primarily because he’s big, gangly and aggressive, some team drafting him on potential, hoping he gets it all together. But don’t expect to see him in any NBA games anytime soon.
A challenging season for Kyle Funkhouser who chose to play his senior year with the University of Louisville baseball team after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.
The low point came during a 16-8 loss to Florida State in early April. Funkhouser gave up eight runs in two innings, including a grand slam home run in that game. It was his second loss in three games, things were looking grim.
The UofL righthander may have been having second thoughts about turning down a million-dollar-plus signing bonus. He had returned to UofL this season remembering some rough spots at the end of last season, knowing he needed to improve, wanting to get better.
Coach Dan McDonnell recognized what Funkhouser was going through, relieving some of the pressure on him by switching him from first to third in the starting pitcher rotation. Since then, Funkhouser has won four straight games to raise his won-lost record to 7-3 for the season.
Funkhouser was at his best Sunday on Senior Day, leaving the mound to the sounds of a standing ovation from the crowd of 3,341. Funkhouser was in total command, striking out eight batters allowing a good North Carolina State team only two hits in a 6-1 win for Louisville.
The win was the 33rd for Funkhouser in four seasons, making him the all-time winningest pitcher in Louisville baseball history. He also leads in strikeouts with a total of 359 of them.
Two other seniors coming through, including first baseman Danny Rosenbaum who was 2-for-4 at the plate and reliever Anthony Kidston, who struck out two batters in the ninth inning.
The game gave Louisville a clean sweep of the three-game series against the college baseball’s 10th-ranked team.
With four games remaining in the regular season, the University of Louisville baseball team has stretched its lead over Florida State to two games in the ACC’s Atlantic Division standings.
Thanks largely to another solid pitching performance from Drew Harrington, a junior left hander, who spaced eight hits over seven innings in a 4-2 win over North Carolina State.
The win was Harrington’s 10th against only one loss this season. In nine ACC starts this season, Harrington is 7-0 with a 1.48 ERA.
Nick Burdi slammed the door in the ninth inning, striking out all three batters he faced, earning his ninth save of the season.
Redshirt freshman Drew Ellis was 2-for-2 with one RBI, scoring once, while juniors Will Smith and Nick Solak added RBI singles.
Meanwhile, Florida State was losing its second straight game to Duke in 3-1 decision at Durham, N.C. UofL is 41-10 overall and 18-8 in conference play, Florida State is 32-17 overall and 14-8 in the ACC.