Walz misses selection show, UofL women to host opening rounds

Long day, needing rest, steady dose of meds.

Jeff Walz was unable to attend the selection show party Monday evening at a Fourth Street Live club for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. He was home in bed with a temperature of 101 degrees, attempting to recover from a cold.

Reports from a practice session earlier in the day had him coaching his team from a balcony two stories above the court. He was playing it safe, not wanting any of his players to get the bug. All the players were on hand for the show, including Dakota Weatherford, looking fine. Weatherford, who missed the ACC tournament a week ago because of flu-like symptoms, smiling broadly while denying having passed the virus to Walz.

Briahanna Jackson, Taja Cole and Asia Durr focus on the pairings.
Briahanna Jackson, Taja Cole and Asia Durr focus on the pairings.

A shame the coach couldn’t make it, the fans packing the Sports & Social Club, cheering every time the University of Louisville appeared on the many TV screens throughout the bar.

The loudest cheers came at about the 7:25 mark with the announcement that UofL will host two opening rounds. Some disappointed that Lexington was out of the picture for regional action but Dallas would be more fun anyway.

The Cardinals will play Central Arkansas at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, following a game between DePaul and James Madison at noon.

If Central Arkansas sounds familiar for some reason, it happens to be Charlie Strong’s alma mater. The Sugar Bears finished the season 28-3 and won the Southland Conference tournament.

Difficult to gauge the size of the crowd Monday but a long line extended quite a distance across the former Galleria complex 30 minutes before the doors opened. Thankfully one observer was able to find a side door and a decent seat up front before the place was overrun by UofL fans. The music was loud, the drinks were flowing, lots of laughing and chattering, quieting down only after the selection show got under way.

Jeff Walz would have enjoyed the party, but not as much as he will getting some relief from those nagging aches and pains … and not sharing the virus with his players.

Petrino’s aggressive offense may be the perfect fit for Louisville’s Dominique Brown

Dominique Brown sure hasn’t been getting much press during the pre-season for a player who was the leading rusher on a University of Louisville football team that compiled a 12-1 record last season. Under the radar for some inexplicable reason.

The 6-foot-2, 241-pound senior running back rushed for “only” 825 yards and eight touchdowns last seson, getting the tough yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Not too shabby in a conservative Charlie Strong grind-it-out approach, stressing ball control and defense at the expense of entertaining offense.Dominique-Brown-UofLCardGame

Brown reminds this observer of another UofL running back from the past in stature, speed and running style — one Eric Shelton who rushed for 938 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2004. That team, coached by Bobby Petrino, went 11-1, defeated Boise State in the Liberty Bowl and finished among the nation’s top 10 teams.

What’s most impressive was that Shelton was putting up such numbers sharing ball-carrying duties with Michael Bush, who gained 753 yards and seven touchdowns. Despite the disparity, Shelton always seemed to be playing in the shadow of Bush.

Continue reading “Petrino’s aggressive offense may be the perfect fit for Louisville’s Dominique Brown”

Five weeks to football

Five more weeks, football fans.

Aug. 5 — UofL fall camp begins. Open practice first five days.ACC-Football-Challenge

Aug. 14 — Kickoff Luncheon, Louisville Marriott Downtown, Noon. The luncheon is sold out.

Aug. 16 — Scrimmage, 9 a.m.; Fan Day, 3 p.m. Approximate starting lineups on display.

Sept. 1 — Tailgating, Noon; Miami, 8 p.m., inaugural game in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

*     *     *

Wide receiver DeVante Parker echoed the collective view of many UofL fans the other day when expressed his frustration with Charlie Strong’s offensive philosophy.

“At times (last season) did get frustrating. Sometimes I’d catch the ball one time in a game or none at all. But I never really said anything,” he told the Courier-Journal.  “They were always putting their foot on the brake. They didn’t want to score anything.”

Never was that more obvious than when the Cardinals claimed a 28-7 lead over Central Florida in the third quarter last season. Time to bury the Knights, put  them away. We all know what happened, however, with UCF leaving Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium with a 38-35 win, knocking UofL out of the top 15 and spoiling what could have been a perfect season.

Bobby Petrino will never be content with simply owning a lead.

Tough decision leads Robert Clark from UofL to Samford

Robert Clark, who would have been a senior wide receiver on the University of Louisville football team, is transferring, taking his talents to Samford University.  He could be missed because he’s a talented receiver with good hands and great speed.Robert Clark 2

Clark, remember, transferred to UofL along with Gerald Christian, another wide receiver from the University of Florida in 2011. He had to sit out a year in 2012 but when he got his chance last season, he caught 25 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown in 13 games. He was clearly headed in the right direction, destined for more playing time this season.

Former UofL Coach Charlie Strong once compared Clark to Lorenzo Mauldin saying, “Mauldin is a player who goes 100 miles per hour. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in shorts or full pads, he going to go full speed. Robert Clark is the same way. He goes hard every play. If he runs 100 yards down the field, he’s going to sprint back. It’s just amazing to watch his athletic ability.”

Life in college football can be tough for players like Clark, however. Sitting out a season, making good when he finally gets his chance, only to see the coach who lured him away from Florida take a job at Texas during the player’s senior season. He has, in fact, already graduated and was ready to focus full-time on football.

But it became clear to him under new/old UofL Coach Bobby Petrino that his aspirations would never be realized and playing time would be limited, with fellow seniors Kai De La Cruz, Eli Rogers and Michaelee Harris constantly getting called before him during practice sessions.

Tough decision, transferring but there’s no joy in watching games from the bench.

One has to admire Clark for recognizing the position he was in and taking charge of his destiny. He wants to be in the game, even if that means going to a Division I-AA FCS program in Birmingham. We wish him well.

35 milestones for University of Louisville athletics

Hard to believe where the University of Louisville athletics were when a teenager started following the Cardinals in earnest in the mid-fifties to what the program has become over the past decade or so.

UofL had a long, long way to go as it entered the second half of the century. The basketball team was playing in the downtown Armory and the football and baseball teams at Parkway Field. Pathetic facilities, low attendance, lack of energy, resulting from decades of indifference and a dearth of local political leadership.

That would begin to change, thanks to involved corporate leaders and visionary groups like the Louisville Development Committee, Leadership Louisville,  and the University of Louisville Foundation. The community would gradually awaken to the possibilities that a growing and vibrant University could bring to the community.

The biggest game changer of all would come with the hiring of Tom Jurich as Athletic Director by President John Shumaker in 1997.  Jurich would create an unprecedented level of momentum over 15 years, changing the face of the University while earning for him the respect and awe of the community, the alumni and fellow athletic directors across the country.

A few milestones along the way. Feel free to add to the list if some are missing:

  • 1956 – Louisville wins National Invitation Tournament
  • 1956 – Basketball team moves from the Armory to Freedom Hall
  • 1956 – Football moves to Fairground Stadium.
  • 1959 – UofL basketball makes first NCAA Final Four
  • 1971 – Denny Crum hired as basketball coach
  • 1973 – Fairgrounds stadium expanded from 21,000 to 36,000 for football
  • 1974 — Tailgating begins at Louisville football games
  • 1980 — First NCAA basketball championship
  • 1984 – Freedom Hall renovation to allow VIP suites
  • 1984 – Hiring of Howard Schnellenberger as football coach
  • 1986 – Second NCAA basketball championship
  • 1991 – Football team defeats Alabama in Fiesta Bowl
  • 1992 – Athletic Director Bill Olson begins fund drive for football stadium
  • 1995 — John Shumaker hired as University President
  • 1997 – Tom Jurich hired as Athletic Director
  • 1998 – Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium opens
  • 2000 — Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park opens
  • 2001 – Rick Pitino hired as basketball coach
  • 2002 — James Ramsey hired as University President
  • 2003 – Bobby Petrino hired as football coach
  • 2005 – UofL joins Big East Conference
  • 2005 – Jim Patterson Stadium opens for baseball
  • 2007 – Football team wins BCS Orange Bowl
  • 2007 – Baseball team goes to the College World Series
  • 2007 – Jeff Walz hired as women’s basketball coach
  • 2009 – Women’s basketball team runner up in NCAA tournament
  • 2009 – Charlie Strong hired as football coach
  • 2009 – Papa John’s Stadium capacity increased to 55,000
  • 2010 – Basketball moves to KFC Yum! Center
  • 2013 – Construction of soccer stadium begins
  • 2013 – Football team win BCS Sugar Bowl
  • 2013 – Third NCAA men’s basketball championship
  • 2013 – Women’s basketball national runner-up
  • 2014 – Bobby Petrino rehired as football coach
  • 2014 – UofL joins Atlantic Coast Conference