Perry leads way in Louisville win over Clemson

Top photo: Ryann Brill, the granddaughter of UofL scoreboard operator Mike Geutig. Bottom photo: Darius Perry with three of his 19 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

With the recent emergence of David Johnson as a major presence for the University of Louisville basketball team, not surprising numerous observers  speculating Darius Perry to a backup role. Sorry  to disappoint, but the second guessers are going to have to wait.

Johnson impressive in the last three games, so good in fact that he had effectively raised overall expectations UofL. Coming out of obscurity to lead his team past Duke, with 19 points in Durham a week ago. Following that up with more  sizzle the other night against Georgia Tech.

Coach Chris Mack not ready to make any major changes just yet, keeping Perry in the starting lineup against Clemson on Saturday. Either emboldened by his coach’s trust or responding to the peer pressure, Perry played the best game of his career on Saturday.

Behind Perry’s shooting, he would score eight of his team’s first 11 points, including two 3-pointers, Louisville would race to a 47-26 lead at half time. Perry would lead all scorers with 19 points, grab five rebounds make one assist and a steal in 26 minutes of playing time. Some 15 of those points coming on five of six attempts behind the 3-point line.

Darius Perry impressing Coach Chris Mack with his offense and defense in Louisville’s win over Clemson (Mike DeZarn photo).
For the Coaches vs. Cancer Day, UofL coaches wore shoes honoring the memory of Jaxen Claxton, the 2-year-old son of strength coach Andy Claxton (Mike DeZarn photo).

Never any doubt. Louisville defeating Clemson 80-64 in front of 17,654 at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday, improving its record to 17-3 overall and 8-1 in the ACC.

Bettors who had UofL as their college basketball pick against the spread were happy as well since they covered the spread.

“I’ve always been a team player,” Perry said afterwards. “None of the shots I took tonight were bad or uncontested. I was open and my teammates were getting me the ball and I took them.”

A breakthrough game as well for Samuell Williamson, a highly-touted freshman forward. Williamson would make good on five of six shots, including a 3-pointer, and two at the free throw line for 14 points.

The Louisville coach, pleased with the offensive output, was even happier with the defensive efforts of the two freshmen. “They are playing with confidence on defense,” he said. “I really thought our team played with tremendous energy throughout the game.”

David Johnson, meanwhile, coming up with five rebounds, six assists and eight points coming off the bench. 

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton

Jazmine Jones with finishing touch for Louisville women

Top photo: Jazmine Jones becoming aggressive in second half (Mike DeZarn photo). Bottom: Virginia’s Amandine Toi runs into a human barricade of Dana Evans, Kylee Shook and Bionca Dunham (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Jamine Jones was all but missing in action as the University of Louisville women’s basketball team raced to a 39-22 halftime lead over Virginia. She would barely dent the stat sheet, managing only one point in the first 20 minutes.

Mykasa Robinson doing what she does best, playing defense against Jocelyn Willoughby, the league’s leading scorer who got 17 points (Mike DeZarn photo).

A different story in the second half, however, with her team going on long scoring droughts, allowing Virginia to close the deficit to nine points on two occasions. A turnover here, a lost rebound there and the Cardinals were in for a dogfight.

Jones with her best basketball when needed most. She would score seven points in the third quarter, including a couple old-fashioned three-point trips and two steals to keep the Cavaliers at bay. She would net five more points in the fourth quarter, winding with a total of 13.

Dana Evans with two of team high 21 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“I just decided to become aggressive in the second half,” she said. “It was pretty rough around the basket. Had to do it.”

The outcome not a true indicator of the game but Louisville would win 71-56 before a crowd of 7,776 at the KFC Yum! Center, improving UofL’s record to 19-1 overall and 8-0 in the ACC.

Dana Evans leading the charge in the first half with 15 points and totaling 21 points for the game. She would also have six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Kylee Shook an intimidating force around the basket with eight points and an incredible six blocks, raising her season total to 49. She already has had 186 blocks during her UofL career.

Malik Williams unpredictable but major force for Louisville

Louisville’s David Johnson is challenged by Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado (Cindy Rice Shelton photo). Malik Williams under pressure as he goes up for a shot (top photo by Mike DeZarn).

One almost always catches his breath when Malik Williams goes up for a shot, whether it’s from the field or the free throw line. The ball goes in the basket just often enough to keep him engaged and aggressive on offense.

Thank goodness. The gangling 6-foot-10 junior played a key role in the University of Louisville basketball team’s 68-64 win over Georgia Tech before a crowd of 15,001 at the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday. Connecting on three out of four free throw attempts in the final 23 seconds to escape still another thriller. Unfortunate for UofL bettors as they did not cover the spread, but bettors with moneyline tickets were able to cash theirs.

Louisville’s big men may be unpredictable but they combined for 26 points. Steven Enoch goes up for two. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

UofL made only 14 of 23 free throw attempts but Williams was seven of 12 making his final seven shots. He would tie Steven Enoch for team scoring honors with 13 points while pulling down six rebounds and blocking three shots. Has to be encouraging when Louisville’s big men are good for 26 points.’

Last week at Pittsburgh, Williams had nine points and eight rebounds. Against Duke, he added 12 points and seven rebounds, again making several key plays including a fast break dunk to seal the victory.

David Johnson again showing flashes of brilliance on offense but in foul trouble early, scoring 10 points in 15 minutes of playing time. Lots of energy and talent, but maybe needing more self discipline.

L’s up from two young Louisville fans beneath north basket (Mike DeZarn photo).

Jordan Nwora adding 10 points on three for 11 field goal attempts in 34 minutes.

Another close call, however, prompting some UofL fans to wonder whether the Cardinals are playing down to the competition’s level. Coach Chris Mack sharing the concern but noting that his team will never be physically dominating.

The win improves Louisville’s record to 16-3 and makes the Cardinals 7-1 in the ACC. Tied for the ACC lead with a one-loss Florida State team. UofL will host Clemson at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the Yum Center.

 

UofL closer to naming rights for Cardinal Stadium

Cardinal Stadium will likely have an expanded name and a new corporate sponsor when the 2020-21 football season rolls around.

Having reached a settlement with John Schnatter over the old stadium naming rights last October, the University of Louisville is free to pursue a new corporate partner.

On Monday UofL’s Purchasing Department issued a Request for Proposal inviting interested parties to submit their bids for working with the University. The proposed target date for a Letter of Intent is the week of March 2:

“The University of Louisville Athletics Department is seeking a driven, innovative, and collaborative partner to help secure Naming Rights for Cardinal Stadium. This partner will conduct a thorough valuation of the project, develop and execute a customized go-to-market strategy grounded in analytics and market-specific data to generate multiple viable candidates, and ultimately identify the best long-term partner for Louisville Athletics.”

While noting that dates are subject to change, the following schedule was included in the RFP:

Jan. 28 — Deadline for written questions.
Feb. 5 — RFP proposals due.
Feb. 10 (week of) — Shortlist announcement.
March 2 (week of) — Letter of Intent.

The invitation states that proposals should include comprehensive valuation of the Naming Rights to Cardinal Stadium, customized brand engagement to elevate the Louisville fan experience, innovative and strategic consulting to push impact beyond the stadium and game day. 

 

David Johnson says he’s fine, Duke has to agree

David Johnson dazzled in a spectacular first half in Louisville’s win over third-ranked Duke at Durham, NC (Photo by Adam Creech, UofL).

How’s the shoulder?

The question, repeated often immediately following the University of Louisville basketball team’s game against Duke, was how David Johnson was doing. The UofL coaching staff and the entire fan base holding its collective breath for the answer. Bettors keeping their eyes on the college basketball line movement to see if the injury will impact the spread.

Yeah, the left shoulder, the one that underwent an operation in late July, causing him to miss the next four months. Just recently working his way back into the game. The one he twisted and awkwardly collapsed on, grimacing in pain with 3:25 on the clock against Duke.

Too good to be true, Johnson putting on one of the most complete all-around games for a UofL point guard in recent memory. The 6-foot-5 freshman would enter the game at the 15:11 mark and score 17 points, make four assists, two blocks and a steal and a 10-point Louisville lead at the half.

For the game, he would wind up with 19 points,  two dunks, one 3-pointer, seven assists, four rebounds, two blocks and three steals.  An amazing performance, all the way back, strong and dominating. Exactly what Louisville needs, especially on nights when Jordan Nwora is not at his best, Nwora being held to six points.

The missing link if ever there was one. So how’s that shoulder, David Johnson?

“I feel fine,” he told reporters in the locker room. “It was just a little bump and bruise. It kind of scared me a little bit. I’ve been a little cautious since coming back and I’m still working on getting stronger.”

What he really wanted to talk about playing against Duke before 9,314 crazies at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “People talk about crazy experiences playing in here,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. You don’t really get to experience it until you play. It’s a tough place to play. It was a big win.”

With Johnson at full strength, Louisville is a much stronger team, with a tall, talented, elusive and savvy point guard directing the offense. He seems to be as much as ease running the show as he is in attacking the basket. Great news for a UofL team winning four straight games, including three on the road.

UofL is now 15-3 overall and 6-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with possibly a whole new outlook for the 2019-20 season. Much at stake pending on the outcome of an MRI on Johnson’s shoulder on Monday.