And So It Ends …
By Sonja Sykes
And it comes to an end. A magical season, by the Lady Cards, much, much more than anyone expected, and the best in Louisville women’s basketball history.
A brave final try against a superior opponent.Â It was an all-out effort for Jeff Walz and crew. No answer inside for the beastly Tina Charles, the precise passing, the skills of a better opponent.Â Angel McCoughtry on her game early, until the defensive pressure and the solid fundamentals of the Huskies shut her down. An effort better than the previous two against the juggernaut but not enough.
Hopes were high, ambitions great, the path unexpected and unheralded.
No shame in this, no regret, no griping about missed opportunities. Giving their best shot, and falling short.Â The best team won, just what the ESPN crews expected and obviously wanted. Hoping here against hope for an upset. Not getting it but not quitting or giving up. I love this team.
I turned the sound off at the start of the game, preferring to watch the game as it unfolded not influenced by commentator dialogue. Sorry Jim Kelch and Adrienne Johnson, didn’t even tune you in. What I saw and observed is a better team overcoming early difficulties and establishing their abilities to beat the team I love, wanted to win. It saddens me, but I am still very proud of these girls.
Make no apologies for this game. Praise and hold this Lady Cards dear to our hearts. They were the kids no one expected to be there, and got to this final venue with grit, determination and heart.
Sometimes, sadly…that isn’t enough.
… Jeff Walz Just Getting Started
By Charlie Springer
Time to confess. This observer wrote this University of Louisville women’s basketball team off before the season started.
The moment Chauntise Wright went down with a busted knee, a defining moment, signaling that a national championship was out of reach. No doubt, especially for a program that had never been in sniffing distance of the Final Four.
But a growing fan base became enraptured with this team, embracing the bandwagon jumpers, the fans, young and old, nearly filling Freedom Hall on two separate occasions, more than 5,000 of them making the journey to St. Louis.
Even the knuckleheads who thumb their noses at women’s basketball were unable to avert their eyes.
Somehow, some inexplicable way, Jeff Walz guided this team to a 34-5 won-lost record and into the national championship game.
Angel McCoughtry. Candyce Bingham. Huge contributors.
Deseree Byrd. Still doesn’t remotely resemble a point guard but she knows how to manage the game when Louisville isn’t playing one of the greatest women’s teams to ever take the court.
Six freshman learning the ropes, absorbing what it takes to get all the way to the final game.
As Angel McCoughtry said on Senior Night, “This is not an ending. It’s a beginning.”
Quite a coaching job by Jeff Walz.
And he’s only just begun.