Jamming Freedom Hall

A preview of the future of Louisville women’s basketball arrived today as 19,123 fans crammed Freedom Hall to see the Lady Cards take on No. 1 ranked Connecticut. The total was a record for both U of L and the Big East Conference — and the largest crowd to attend a women’s game in the country this year.

What the fans saw was evidence that the quality of women’s basketball continues to improve. The prototypical women’s college basketball players today are athletes. They are fast, they play tough defense, and they hit shots their predecessors never dreamed of taking. Probably a surprise to some people attending their first women’s game, should make them want to return.

UConn is the envy of every women’s basketball coach. The Huskies are 15-0 after defeating U of L 93-72. They are undefeated because every player on that team is a finely-tuned athlete. The best athlete on the floor, however, was U of L’s Angel McCoughtry, managing to score 30 points while she was the primary focus of a bruising UConn defense.

Even though the place was packed, there weren’t that many familiar faces. Probably means some fans aren’t that clued into what’s really happening. They’ll jump on the bandwagon when Jeff Walz takes a team to a first Final Four. Many children in the crowd, future fanatics of U of L’s women’s basketball. U of L women’s basketball takes a giant step.

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The impressive turnout also had to impress another key audience — several important football recruits on campus this weekend, trying to decide between U of L and other major schools. Watch for some verbal commits next week.

Two T-Wills

Terrence Williams sticking around for his senior season, according to Rick Bozich’s blog today. That’s great for T-Will and equally fantastic for U of L fans who want nothing better than to see him become a major force on the college scene.

There are two T-Wills, in case you haven’t noticed the past two seasons:

First, there’s the Pre-Conference Play T-Will missing shots from every angle on the floor and blowing wide open layups around the rim while still managing to look sensational and making fans wonder whether he would have been a better football player.

Then there’s the T-Will who shows up for Conference Play (and the UK game), directing traffic getting his teammates in position, thriving on passing the ball and placing great value on high percentage shots. This is the T-Will who will be indispensable with seven or eight unseasoned college players coming aboard next year.

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The news about T-Will is offset by the announcement by junior Lamar Myles of the football Cards that he will enter the National Football League draft. He was the most dependable player on the defensive team, recording 128 tackles — 74 more than the next closest player.

His departure poses an immediate challenge for new defensive coordinator Ron English, who inherits a unit that was 85th in the country in total defense. Things had to get worse before they get better.

Football Coaching Carousel

Louisville football coach Steve Kragthorpe appears to have corralled an impressive group of assistants, with Jeff Brohm, Ron English, Ted Roof, and Ken Delgado, all with impressive career track records. Somebody once said that if you want to be a successful boss, you should hire people smarter than you. Whether that applies here is up for debate, but these coaches will sure make the boss look smarter next season.

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Anthony Allen is still looking around for a new football team today after U of L denied the request to be released from his letter of intent so he could consider Arkansas. Good. Apparently the Allen family thought U of L would seriously consider an action that would give former coach Bobby Petrino access to former recruits. Petrino must have thought so because he was undoubtedly communicating with the family. Not sneaking around, not our Bobby.

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Southern Mississippi receives this observer’s vote as a candidate for filling out U of L’s 12-game schedule next season. U of L and Southern Miss had a good rivalry going before the Cards joined the Big East. Indiana needs a game, too, but the IU administration doesn’t want a game in Bloomington where the opposition attracts more fans than the home team. Other teams needing a game include Oklahoma, Illinois, Virginia Tech and Brigham Young.

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The Lady Cards’ basketball team has lost two games in a row but the fun may just be beginning. They entertain the No. 1-ranked UConn women with a 14-0 won-loss record Saturday afternoon at 4 at Freedom Hall. It’s pack the house night for U of L. Coupons for free tickets are available at all Kroger stores in Louisville Metro. The adrenaline will be flowing, be there.


When Owsley Calls, People Listen

Every U of L fan who appreciates the phenomenal growth of the University of Louisville owes a debt of gratitude to Owsley Brown Frazier. This giant of a man has dreamed big, given generously and worked tirelessly on U of L’s behalf, always demanding and expecting excellence.

A U of L grad with two degrees and an ardent Card fan, Frazier joined the family business, Brown Forman Corp., in 1960, rising to the position of Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. Despite the demands of the business, Frazier continued to serve in a wide variety of capacities at the university, including the Board of Trustees and the Board of Overseers.

You will find his name on many academic and athletic facilities. Gifts have ranged a $350,000 donation in 1984 to the College of Business and Public Administration to $1 million in 1998 to refurbish the U of L President’s home on Longest Avenue. He has contributed well over $1 million to athletics, and was the force behind Cardinal Park, which bears his name, and also has been involved in the downtown arena project and the Papa John’s Stadium expansion. As U of L Magazine noted:

What makes Frazier such a successful fund-raiser is that he works only for causes in which he believes. He would not ask anyone else to contribute money or time to something unless he has done so himself. “My leadership style is to be a convincer, to demonstrate my own belief in a project, which makes me a more powerful salesperson,” he says.

When Owsley calls, people listen. Frazier not only gives generously but he also uses his clout to get the financial support and personal involvement of other movers and shakers. While he appreciates and supports the arts, Brown broke the mold of old-money Louisville families by also providing strong backing for U of L athletics. Name a major project at U of L, and he has probably been involved.

So this observer takes this opportunity to thank Owsley Brown Frazier for what he has done and continues to do. Equally important is what his efforts will make possible in the future. Thank you, indeed.