Attendance Dip In Bandwagon City

Remember the days when a basketball game at Cincinnati was a great road trip, when University of Louisville fans made more noise in UC’s rotating venues than the home team? They may be returning soon, or at least until Mick Cronin returns the Bearcats to be in a more competitive mode. According to one UC blog, the Bearcats have seen their basketball attendance fall for the fourth straight season:

UC is averaging 8,477 fans per game this season, the lowest average in the 19 years the Bearcats have played in Fifth Third Arena and a 23.3 percent decline from the 11,059 that UC averaged in 2004-05, the last year that Bob Huggins was the head coach and the year in which the Bearcats made their most recent appearance in the NCAA Tournament. That figure is down four percent from last year’s 8,831, which was the previous low at Fifth Third.

“Am I concerned?,” said UC athletic director Mike Thomas. “No, I’m not. I’m actually excited about the future. I think what Mick and the kids have done this year, what the future looks like with the kids on board, the kids that are coming back and the kids that he has committed for next year, I think all arrows are pointed in the right direction.”

Interesting, the athletic director all but admits that fan loyalty hinges on the team’s up and downs. Obviously, lots of bandwagon jumpers in Cincinnati. The jumping off and on has been apparent in football for many years, where U of L fans actually outnumbered UC fans at some games.

JaJuan Spillman Making His Way Back

Great news for Card football fans: JaJuan Spillman and Coach Steve Kragthorpe have apparently reconciled. One of the fastest players to wear a U of L uniform, Spillman is on track to return. spill.jpeg

Kragthorpe had mentioned to a couple of people at the football signing party that Spillman was coming back, but few were counting on it. He confirmed it by penciling in JaJuan’s name on the 2008 roster, recently updated on the U of L web site.

JaJuan was largely written off by a lot of observers, including this one, last October when he was suspended for undisclosed reasons. Based on some of Krag’s other personnel decisions, this is significant, indicating that Spillman has taken the necessary steps to return to good standing.

Those who doubted Spillman will happily have egg on their faces. Players rarely ever make it back after such long sabbaticals. He had to have been taking care of business in the classroom, the weight room and in his personal life.

Way to go, JaJuan. Keep it up.

lville2.jpgAlso listed on the roster is Maurice Urrutia, the younger brother of Mario, whom we presume has recovered from the wounds he incurred in a shooting incident at a local nightspot two years ago. The 6-f00t-5 Maurice, whom his brother once described as a better player than he, is listed as a wide receiver. Mario left after his junior year, eyeing an NFL career. Maurice, by the way, has a very interesting My Space page.

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lville2.jpgLet’s hear it for the U of L Softball Team, defeating Kentucky 6-1 on their home field Wednesday in Lexington, snapping UK women’s seven-game winning streak. Love it when that happens.

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lville2.jpgThe Baseball Cards thumped Eastern Kentucky 13-5 Wednesday. Gabriel Shaw, the freshman pitcher? He pitched one inning, still not allowing a hit or base runner after 18 batters.

Lady Cards Draw St. John’s in Big East

Yeah, yeah, we know. The Big East Women’s Tournament will be another cakewalk for Connecticut and Rutgers. Nobody else presents a serious threat to the old guard. Yet.

Still, the Lady Cards, winners of eight of their last nine games, could possibly make some noise. They seemed to play with more poise and purpose during the last half of the season. Or were they just becoming more comfortable with Jeff Walz’ offensive schemes, his coaching style? Some would say it was because UConn and Rutgers had already had their way with the Cards.

All questions should be answered soon. Here are the tournament pairings, thanks to HoyaSaxa:

Saturday, March 8 – First Round (BETV & BIGEAST.tv)

Noon……………. No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Villanova

2 p.m…………… No. 8 Marquette vs. No. 9 DePaul

6 p.m…………… No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 St. John’s

8 p.m…………… No. 6 Syracuse vs. No. 11 USF

Sunday, March 9 – Quarterfinals (ESPNU)

Noon……………. No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 5/No. 12 winner

2 p.m…………… No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 8/No. 9 winner

6 p.m…………… No. 2 Rutgers vs. No. 7/No. 10 winner

8 p.m…………… No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 6/No. 11 winner

Monday, March 10 – Semifinals (ESPNU)

6 p.m…………… Quarterfinal afternoon winners

8 p.m…………… Quarterfinal evening winners

Tuesday, March 11 – Championship (ESPN2)

7 p.m…………… Championship game (semifinal winners)

Catching Up At Belknap

Catching our breath before the Cards travel to Washington, D.C. later this week to take on Georgetown in a game that will decide the regular season Big East champions …

lville1.jpg Baseball Cards are off to 4-2 start, pitching living up to expectations thus far. Senior Zach Pitts has a 2-0 record and an earned run average of 0.73. Freshman Gabriel Shaw has two saves and an ERA of 0.0 after five innings … Sophomore Jake Arnold and freshman Phil Wunderlich are the leading hitters with averages of .438 and .375, respectively. Third baseman Chris Dominguez? Two home runs and a .320 batting average.

They hook up with Vanderbilt Tuesday in Nashville before returning home Wednesday for a 3 p.m. games against Eastern Kentucky and a three-game series this weekend against Northwestern.

lville1.jpgAngel McCoughtry scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the Lady Cards to an impressive 84-52 romp over Villanova on Monday. Chauntise “Tise” Wright added 22 points as they completed their regular season with a 21-7 record in Jeff Walz’ first season as coach. Now they’re off to Hartford for the Big East Tournament, starting Saturday in Hartford.

lville1.jpgWomen’s Softball easing out of the gate with a 5-5 start. For some reason, nobody is updating the team’s individual statistics on their U of L site (volunteers needed?). They travel to Lexington on Wednesday for a game at 5 p.m. against the University of Kentucky women.

lville1.jpg U of L’s Lacrosse Team has never been beaten. The Cards are 3-0 after their first three games in their historic first season under Kelly Young, trouncing Bryant University 21-3, Manhattan 21-8, and Robert Morris 19-3. Their next six games are on the road before returning to Belknap for a Big East tilt against Georgetown on March 30.