Promising season derailed for Louisville basketball

Sorry, no miracle finishes, no consolation prizes, nothing remotely positive about this last game. Unless one can be relieved that the season is over, allowing fans to move on to other things.

Last game for Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. A few more tears for the University of Louisville transfers, putting the final edits on their brief stint with UofL basketball program. Helping UofL compete for a share of an Atlantic Coast Conference title, still a contender 10 minutes before tipping off their final game.

Rick Pitino kept his team focused.
Rick Pitino kept his team focused.

Unfortunately, the outcome of this game in doubt for less than five minutes, petering out in agonizingly slow motion. Virginia grinding a 10-0 lead before Chinanu Onuaku mercifully hits a free throw. UofL missing its first 11 shots, managing only 16 more points during the half, trailing 29-17 at intermission.  When it was finally over, Virginia had hammered Louisville again, 68-48.

The ease with which Virginia humbled UofL in two games this season earned the Cavaliers significant respect from Cardinal fans. Maturity and confidence beyond their years, a stifling defense, among the best in the land. Shouldn’t be too difficult to pencil in Virginia going a long way in those NCAA brackets.

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Jeff Walz has freebies for final home game against Pitt

Jeff Walz has a special deal for Cardinal Athletic Fund members for Sunday’s final regular season game.

ACC StandingsTwo free tickets for the University of Louisville vs. Pittsburgh women’s basketball game, which tips off at 12:30 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center.

In an email to CAF members Tuesday, the UofL coach expressed his appreciation for a level of support that has made Louisville women’s basketball one of the elite programs in the country. The UofL women are currently 13-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, second only to undefeated Notre Dame.

They are 22-6 overall and ranked 10th in the latest Associated Press poll as they travel to Miami for a 7:30 p.m. game on Thursday (

“It is extremely important we finish the regular season on a high note,” he wrote, “and we would love to have you there to ensure we have the best home-court advantage possible.”

To claim your two free tickets, present your ‘Year of the Fan’ card at the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium ticket office Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Lost track of the card? No sweat. They have your account number.

Louisville women skate past Clemson, win streak at 13

Briahanna Jackson gets her shot backc.
Briahanna Jackson gets her groove back.

Thirteen wins in a row for the University of Louisville women basketball team, none of them as easy as the 75-33 romp over Clemson witnessed by 8,379 at the KFC Yum! Center Thursday.

Briahanna Jackson was back to her old self, lots of smiles and high fives between baskets. She made three of four attempts from behind the three-point line, leading all scorers with 13 points. Three assists, two steals and five rebounds as well. When Jackson is happy, everybody’s happy.

That would certainly include Samantha Fuehting, a freshman making her third start at UofL. She was filling in for Myisha Hines-Allen who returned home this week for the funeral of a grandparent in New Jersey. Fuehring would score 12 points and pull down five rebounds in 29 minutes.

Asia Durr added 12 points, connecting on five of eight attempts, and Mariya Moore wound up with 10.

The eighth consecutive loss for Clemson, now 4-16, and hasn’t won a game since Dec. 26th. The Cardinals are 16-5 overall and 8-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.


Even better times ahead for UofL

Second season in the Atlantic Coast Conference coming up.

No concern about whether the University of Louisville football team will be able to compete in a Power 5 conference. Not with Bobby Petrino on the sideline. The novelty has become an everyday reality.

A whole different feel to the beginning of the football season from a few years ago. No doubts about having a quality schedule, no worries about whether the Big XII conference wants to expand, no second thoughts about whether UofL will be in a position to compete for national honors.

Excuse me if every now and then I just want to raise my fist in the air and scream for joy.

Just a few years ago, the odds of UofL collecting an ACC invitation were very remote. The word was the ACC only wanted members located on the coast, that UofL’s academic standing was a deterrent. But the reality of what Louisville was accomplishing in the athletic and academic fields made the school an obvious choice.

Normalcy for UofL finally happened after decades of wishing and hoping, sometimes teetering on the edge of desperation for national acceptance and respect. Needing Maryland to withdraw from the ACC for UofL to finally get the conference invitation last year.

As Gorgui Dieng said his father often told him, “Nothing good comes easily.” All the years of hard work, conference politics, capital investment, and financial support, along with the dynamic efforts of Tom Jurich as athletic director, were absolutely required to make it happen.

For some the temptation may be to be satisfied, to bask in the glory of the new exalted status. That’s not how it works, however. There are more breakthroughs to be achieved. As someone once said, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.”

That obviously has not been the case at UofL. Nor will it ever be under Jim Ramsey and Jurich’s leadership.

Time to update the UofL bucket list

Remarkable how much the University of Louisville has grown and prospered over the past two decades. If the observer had had a bucket list 20 years ago, it would have included the following items:

— An on-campus football stadium
— A new state-of-the-art basketball arena.
— Another national championship in basketball.
— Membership in one of the premier athletic conferences.UofL flag
— A new baseball stadium
— A dramatic increase in student housing, getting away from being a commuter school.
— A major beautification effort, with grand entrances to the campus.
— Significant expansion of the campus, helping to upgrade surrounding neighborhoods.
— An enhanced academic reputation.

All of these things have occurred under the leadership of James Ramsey, as President, and Tom Jurich, as Vice President of Athletics. A 55,000-seat Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, a 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center, a 3,000-seat Jim Patterson Stadium, a third NCAA basketball title, and membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Construction is booming on and around Belknap Campus, as UofL completes the transition to a residential campus with an active student body all year round. As for academic improvement, there have been 87 UofL Fulbright award winners since 2003—more than all other Kentucky institutions combined and on par with some of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

One is tempted to be satisfied with such incredible progress for the University of Louisville. But like they say, if you’re not getting better, you are getting worse. Having achieved all that, it’s time to update the bucket list. The facilities are in place. Here’s the updated bucket list, what the observer would like to happen next:

— Win a national championship in football.
— Add at least 15,000 seats to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
— Win the College World Series in baseball.
— Win two more national championships in men’s basketball.
— Win a first national championship in women’s basketball.
— National Cancer Center designation for University Hospital.
— Host the ACC basketball tournaments (men’s and women’s) in Louisville.
— Win a national championship in soccer.
— Continue the expansion of the UofL campuses, including Belknap, the Medical Complex and on Shelbyville Road.
— Move up at least 30 spots in academic recognition on the U.S. News & World Report list.
— Permanent and significant recognition of James Ramsey and Tom Jurich on Belknap Campus.

Feel welcome to suggest additions to the observer’s bucket list.