Tom Jurich should be there for first game in expanded PCJS

Tom Jurich watches as his son, Mark, announces the Thornton’s sponsorship of the Academic Center in 2013 (Charlie Springer photos).

The massive edifice of the north end zone expansion at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is impressive. Even more so under the lights during a recent home game. A striking preview into the future of University of Louisville football.

When viewing the concrete and steel framework, it’s impossible not to think about Tom Jurich’s impact on the University.  Making UofL athletics nationally competitive in almost every sport, consistently among the top 20 in basketball, baseball, soccer and football.

One has to regret that Tom, who had the vision and the optimism to tackle the project, will probably not be on hand for the official opening on the stadium, which is scheduled Sept. 9, 2018.

Of all the projects TJ has undertaken, this may have been the one he wanted the most. The expansion will be a stunning addition to the stadium,  with the addition of 10,000 seats, including 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes and 12 exclusive field-level suites.

One is optimistic that Tom’s son, Mark Jurich, will be an integral part of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and for the opening home game. Tom had put him in charge of the project, fundraising and all, and he appears to be right on target in terms of fundraising and construction.

What would make the event even more special would be for Tom Jurich there as well. Interim Athletic Director Vince Tyra has said Tom is a good friend and he greatly admires what he accomplished at UofL. Tyra should do everything he can do to make that happen.

Hines-Allen, Jones in control, UofL women pound Toledo

Asia Durr, in feature photo, was back in action, scoring 14 points in 17 minutes. Sophomore Jazmine Jones, above, had her best college game, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Toledo was focused on stopping Asia Durr two nights after she set an all-time single game scoring record of 47 points for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team.  She scored only 14 points but she played only 17 minutes in this game.

Myisha Hines-Allen looking for daylight beneath the basket, going on to score 17 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The visiting Rockets discovered there are some other scoring threats on this UofL team — namely Myisha Hines-Allen and Jazmine Jones who each scored 17 points apiece and pulled down 10 rebounds. Plenty of power in the middle for the Cards this season, with Kylie Shook coming through with eight rebounds and four points.

Louisville a 90-55 winner before a crowd of 5,444 at the KFC Yum!

Freshman Dana Evans getting tons of playing time and filling up the stats sheet during her 27 minutes — six points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and, whoops, five turnovers. She’s a high energy player, confident and assertive. 

Junior Sydney Zambrotta also impressing Coach Jeff Walz with her defensive intensity, seeing 16 minutes on the floor, actually starting in the second half. Her 3-point shot still beautiful, sinking both of her attempts. She also pulled in three rebounds and was credited with a couple of assists.

The UofL women, ranked fifth in this week’s Associated Press poll, will host 24th ranked Michigan at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Agonizing start but Louisville gives David Padgett his first win

David Padgett patrols the sideline during Louisville 72-61 win over George Mason. His first career win at UofL (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Big day for David Padgett, appearing in his first official game as the head basketball coach at the University of Louisville. Taking over the team at a low point, charged with keeping the program competitive. No guarantees of a permanent position.

The future has arrived for David Padgett, with no guarantees but one game at a time.

A month-and-a-half ago, he was an assistant coach, hoping someday to get his shot at becoming a head coach somewhere. Never dreaming that he would be the guy to succeed a legend at the University of Louisville. Hoping to pay his dues, learn from the guy next to him on the bench, and hope an opportunity came along that he could not resist.

If there is enormous pressure on his shoulders, Padgett shows no physical signs. Rarely showing the emotion displayed by his predecessor. He was on his feet most of the game, camping out on the opposite side of the coach’s box. Occasionally barking instructions, seemingly relying on hand gestures to communicate with players.

Outwardly, at least, cool, calm, collected and confident.

Padgett’s first game, however, as head coach was a major challenge, with UofL trailing most of the way, owning a lead for less than 14 minutes. Trailing by six points three times early in the second half, hanging around, keeping things close. But they would emerge with a 72-61 win over George Mason before a crowd of 18,304 at the KFC Yum! Center.

Deng Adel would lead all scorers with 20 points, but UofL would need  a couple of freshmen to have some outstanding debuts in order to win. Darius Perry and Jordan Nwora would each connect on three-for-three 3-point attempts, scoring 17 and 10 points, respectively.

George Mason was able to contain Anas Mahmoud, applying constant pressure, fouling him often. Mahmoud would miss the first shot on one-plus-one free throw opportunities five different times. He would hit only two of seven free throw attempts and manage only six points for the day.

Not a good game either for V. J. King who would make all five of his five points at the free throw line. Nor for Ray Spalding who would foul out of the game with only two points.

George Mason a good test for Louisville in the opening game, providing a preview of what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. No one expected the first game to be easy, few of them will be. David Padgett has taken his first step, won his first game. Creating the future one game at a time.

Louisville defense plays with pupose, shutting down Virginia

Louisville’s Jaylen Smith pulls in an amazing one-handed 24-yard catch from Lamar Jackson (top and bottom photos) in the third quarter to give UofL a 10-point lead over Virginia (Cindy Rice Smith photos).
Think Jaylen Smith was happy following that one-handed catch? (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)

Virginia has always been a extraordinarily tough out for the University of Louisville since the Cardinals entered the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. Every game a grind, the outcomes always in doubt.

That’s one reason UofL’s 38-21 win over the Cavaliers was so enjoyable, with none of the tension or frustration associated with the first three games in the series. The other reason was that UofL allowed the Virginia offense only 67 yards on the ground and 312 yards overall.

Louisville’s defense, led by Chucky Williams with nine tackles, taking full advantage of a bye week to recover from injuries, toughen up and get back to basics. Attacking the ball, making stops, tipping passes — all the things they hadn’t been doing the last three games. Making huge progress, reclaiming some self-respect, along with hope for the rest of the season.

James Hearns seemed to be everywhere as far as Virginia was concerned,  with three sacks and three forced fumbles.  The Cavaliers could manage only 10 yards rushing in the first half.

On the other side of the ball, Lamar Jackson finally getting some help in the running game, with 88 yards from Dae Williams and 55 yards from Malik Williams. Freeing up Jackson for 160 yards on the ground and 195 through the air, Lamar rushing 68 yards for one touchdown while passing for three others.

The completion that the 46,787 fans will remember most, playing it over and over in their collective mind, will be the 24-yard Jackson to Jaylen Smith connection in the third quarter. Smith catching the ball with his extended right hand, that careful balancing act, a catch returning the joy of football to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The UofL offense also looking competent again, thanks largely to the physical capabilities of Dae Williams. The freshman running back providing some power not seen in a running back since the days of Eric Shelton during Coach Bobby Petrino’s first tenure during the early 2000’s. 

Dae and Malik Williams relieving Reggie Bonnafon in the backfield, not allowing defenses to focus solely on Lamar Jackson. Giving UofL some badly needed versatility at a time of the season when it absolutely needed a boost, needed reason for optimism with only two games to go in the regular season.

The sixth win against four losses making Louisville bowl eligible. That’s nice. Even better was the way UofL went about it, taking care of business, getting better, providing some promise for the immediate future.

UofL Women rock SE Missouri in opener

Sophomore Jazmine Jones was in the starting lineup for the first time, scoring four of the first six points as the University of Louisville women’s basketball team raced to a 16-0 lead over Southeast Missouri. Jones would score 12 points to lead all scorer in an 80-40 win for the Cardinals before 6,054 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The win moves UofL into the sweet 16 of the WNIT (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).