Louisville baseball survives slugfest with Clemson

The game was almost four hours long, and there were a dozen hits for each team, nine walks, three errors and 17 runners left on base.

The University of Louisville baseball team got all it could handle from Clemson in the first seven innings. The Tigers racking up 10 hits off UofL righthander Josh Rogers, owning a 5-4 lead, looking formidable, getting its act together as the ACC tournament nears.

UofL, meanwhile, focused on its first ACC regular title. The bats coming to life in eighth inning, with Nick Solak and Corey Ray leading off the inning with home runs. Brandon McKay getting a base on balls, scoring on a hit by Will Smith, Zach Lucas singling, making it home on another single by Logan Taylor.

Another series win in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the University of Louisville baseball team, the series decided by a 9-5 win. UofL is now 21-3 in the ACC and 37-11 overall.

If there is a concern, it is with some of the starting pitchers. Kyle Funkhouser and Josh Rogers were battered for a total of 17 hits and nine runs in the Clemson series. Former starter Anthony Kidston is clearly struggling, with an 0-4 record and a 5.85 earned run average.

UofL next travels to Lexington for the second game against Kentucky in a week. Don’t be surprised if UK comes back with Logan Salow and Dylan Dwyer who held UofL to one hit in the first eight innings in the last game.

ACC about more than athletics for Louisville

Always has been.

More than 100 ACC representatives are being hosted by the University of Louisville through Tuesday to enhance communications between schools and  to explore best practices.

“Hosting this conference gives us a chance to showcase the University of Louisville’s incredible transformation to our new ACC partners,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “It is also a way for ACC institutions to share academic, research and administrative strategies.”

Some of the topics to be explored include:

— Strategic management of investment portfolios and traceability to cost of education

— Best practices in public relations, branding, marketing and crisis communications

— Sponsorship opportunities with key vendors

— Best practices in administrative/student service areas such as financial aid, bursar, budgeting, fiscal reporting, treasury management, procurement, accounts payable and research expenses

Conference sponsors are PNC Bank, Inc. and The Oracle Corporation, Learfield Sports, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Marriott International, Inc., BKD CPAs and Advisors, LLP, Sodexo, Inc., Maximus Higher Education Practice, Inc., Higher One, Inc., and Miller Transportation.

Some games more important, Louisville prevails over North Carolina

A monster second half for Montreal Harrell, stealing the ball, hitting this jumper to finally tie the score 59-59 at the 3:54 mark.
A monster second half for Montrezl Harrell, making a steal, hitting this jumper to tie the score 59-59 at the 3:54 mark.

Some games against certain opponents are more important than others, validating a program’s tradition, creating bigger possibilities, the outcome commanding national attention. The game against North Carolina was one of those.

Rick Pitino contemplating a beatdown or a miracle as the second half begins.  The white coat was history.
Rick Pitino contemplating a beatdown or a miracle as the second half begins. The white coat is history either way.

Nothing going the University of Louisville’s way in the first half, resembling  a couple of games against big names at the KFC Yum! Center  in the recent past. The script needing a rewrite with North Carolina up 36-25 as teams head for the locker rooms.

Rick Pitino sheds his white jacket during the intermission, returning with a far-away look, pondering the immediate future — either an ugly loss or an unlikely miracle finish.

No clues during the first couple minutes, UofL missing its first three shots, Carolina extending its lead to 18 points.

At the 17:26 mark, the Yum! lights don’t flicker or anything but that’s when destiny intervenes, another Miracle on Main if you will, with Chris Jones connecting on a 3-pointer, following it up with a steal and an assist to Terry Rozier, cutting the margin to 13 points.

Montrezl Harrell will “play like a man possessed” over the next dozen minutes, according to North Carolina Coach Roy Williams. His contributions of 12 points, seven rebounds, three steal and an assist will be highlighted by a soaring one-hand dunk that will be No. 1 on Sports Center and a jumper that will enable UofL to finally tie the score at 59-59 at the 6:14 mark.

Wayne Blackshear's only basket would come in overtime.
Wayne Blackshear’s only basket – a very big basket – would come in overtime.

Harrell will not hit his 3-point attempt to prevent the game from going into overtime, nor will he score the rest of the game, but he will have stamped his imprint on another legendary Pitino comeback. For the record, he will finish the game with 22 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Terry Rozier will score eight of his team’s 18 points in the overtime, finishing the game with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Jones with 17 for the game, and five must-have free throws during the overtime. But it may have been Wayne Blackshear’s shot, a 3-pointer to put UofL up five points, signaling that the Cardinals aren’t going to be denied. His only basket in the game.

The 78-68 overtime win for Louisville over North Carolina “one for the ages” is how someone close to the observer described what happened Saturday. Some games are just more important than others.

Sara Hammond sparkles in Louisville’s win over Virginia

There are days when nothing goes right, as was the case Saturday when the University of Louisville men’s basketball team couldn’t hit wide open shots all day long.

Then there are some where everything goes right. It was one of those days Sunday for Sara Hammond, Myisha Hines-Allen and the UofL women’s team in a 67-55 win over a tenacious Virginia team before 11,332 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The second largest home crowd of the season.

Sara Hammond 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one foul.
A game to savor for Sara Hammond.

Hammond had one of her better games in four years, finding numerous ways to get open, making good on her opportunities, scoring 16 of her team’s first 20 points in the first half. The law of averages would catch up with her in the second, and she would wind up with 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists and only one foul.

Hines-Allen, a freshman center, would play the game of her young career, emerging from the second 20 minutes with 15 of her 17 points.

Couldn’t come at a better time, against a determined Virginia team that refused to go away, rallying time after time on the back of Faith Randolph. Randolph seemed capable of hitting shots from any spot on the court, winding up with 22 for the game.

The women are 17-1 overall, 5-0 in the ACC. Next up is Florida State in Tallahassee on Thursday.

Chris Jones all in now, eyes another Louisville championship

Chris Jones has been getting to the gym at 7:30 every morning the past week, working on the fundamentals, paying more attention to Coach Rick Pitino than the coach was giving Jones credit for during Friday’s press conference.

Chris Jones is listening, comprehending.
Chris Jones is listening, comprehending.

He’s got the message, Coach, taking it to heart, telling UofL play-by-play announcer Paul Rogers after UofL’s hard-fought 85-67 win over Wake Forest,  “I know what we have to do to win a national championship. I’m all in.”

Jones said he was taking responsibility as point guard for running this team, getting the point guard thing down, getting the ball to open teammates. Playing 36 minutes at full speed, Pitino said Jones played brilliantly. He had no choice, not with Terry Rozier playing in foul trouble and Wake Forest clamping down on Montrezl Harrell.

The most crucial basket he made may have come after Wake Forest had clawed back, taking a 69-68 lead at the 5:19 mark. Slipping through all the congestion, he would put UofL back on top to stay. Then he would sink two free throws and find Harrell beneath the basket, and suddenly Louisville was ahead 76-71.

For the game, Jones would be credited with an amazing 10 assists to going with his 22 points, three steals and four rebounds. Working on his game, getting better.

Harrell, taking the ball the length of the court at one point, all but unstoppable in the first half. Connecting on seven of 10 field goal attempts, including a couple of three-pointers, for his first 20 points. Wake Forest double-teaming him in the second half, allowing him only five more points.

Rozier, limited to 25 minutes of playing time because of foul trouble, would keep Louisville out of trouble while he was in, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the second half.

Devin Thomas, of Wake Forest, was having the game of his life, getting to the basket with ease with UofL’s revolving trio of Anas Mahmoud, Mangok Mathiang and Chinanu Onuaku, taking them to school en route to a career high 31 points. They’re going to be under Pitino’s thumb during upcoming practices.

Listen to the Coach, guys, listen carefully.