Jeff Walz sees his team again at press conference


Jeff Walz was hit hard by the flu bug over the weekend, and he hasn’t been the same since. He coached the team from a balcony overlooking the court on Monday, not wanting to infect members of the University of Louisville women’s basketball team.

He intended to coach them on Tuesday, getting out of his sick bed, hopping in his car to go to practice. “I got halfway there and had to pull over to the side of the road and go back home,” he said, without providing graphic details.  “I’m not 100% now but I’m feeling better, probably 80%. I should be okay by Friday.”Jeff Walz

He was seated at a table at an NCAA press conference Thursday, alongside Myisha Hines-Allen, Mariya Moore and Asia Durr. “This is about as close as I have been to the team in about five days. I’m very fortunate to have a great staff.  They know exactly what we’re trying to do and what we’re going to do. We all have each other’s backs, it’s something we pride ourselves on here.”

The coach’s eyes seem to light up as he heard his players discuss their commitment to getting better on defense going into Friday’s NCAA game against Arkansas Central.

“The coaches have been stressing defense all week,” said Hines-Allen. “When we played Syracuse (a loss in the ACC tournament), we didn’t play defense. Offensively, we can play with a lot of teams, we just need to work on defense.”

“Defense, defense, defense,” said Moore. “We’ve done a lot of work on defense and we need to be at our strongest in tournament play.”

Music to Walz’s ears, the coach with the bleary eyes actually managing a smile.

“The tournament is what we’ve been preparing for for six months,” he said. “If you have a bad day in the tournament, we’re done. You might not make shots,  you might not do something you normally do well but you have to figure out a way to have a positive impact. If you’re not on the floor, be cheering.

“We played enough basketball now that our freshmen are no longer freshmen. Youth is not an excuse. We’re prepared, they’re prepared. We hope it’s going to be a great weekend of basketball.”

That would put the effects of flu a distant memory.

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.

All-America Hines-Allen has bigger goals in mind

The individual accolades are flowing her way but Myisha Hines-Allen wants something much bigger.

The University of Louisville sophomore is going to need some extra walls to display all the awards she has earned for leading her women’s basketball team to a 25-7 won-lost record overall and a 15-1 mark and second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Following the season, Hines-Allen  was named ACC Player of the Year and a member of the ACC all-tournament team.

She was named ACC Player of the Week a third time during the season after she hit 11 of 14 shots against Pittsburgh in the regular season finale against Pittsburgh. She averaged 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while scoring 20 points in 11 outings.

More honors to come, including the possibility of first team of the Associated Press All-America team. She also made one All-America team, being picked on the five-member team of College Sports Madness, a popular Internet web site. Other members included Breanna Stewart, UConn; Jamie Weisner, Oregon State; A’ja Wilson, South Carolina; and Makayla Epps, Kentucky.

The awards, the trophies, all the praise, those things are nice. But Myisha Hines-Allen has aspirations for more significant honors, more inclusive achievements she can share with her teammates. Those would be consistent with the stated goal of Coach Jeff Walz of winning a national championship. “That would be the ultimate,” she will inform.

Three more opportunities to make that a reality. She would never concede anything to UConn or Breanna Stewart.

Briahanna Jackson hot again, Louisville women bomb Miami


Briahanna Jackson was back in familiar territory, back in sunny Florida, home again, feeling good.

Jackson had her swagger back, saying goodbye to her shooting slump, becoming the aggressor again. She and her 10th-ranked University of Louisville teammates romping in a surprisingly easy 79-51 win at Miami on Thursday.

The transfer from the University of Central Florida had been held scoreless in her last game at Boston College, managing only 12 points in the past four games. She was losing confidence, passing up good shots, missing most of the other ones. Jeff Walz commented on it after the Boston College game, promising fans Briahanna would find her range again.

Jackson wasn't exactly a scoring machine against Miami but she resembled the Jackson of old.

Jackson wasn’t exactly a scoring machine against Miami but she closely resembled the Jackson of old. Briahanna would connect on six of 12 field goal attempts, including one 3-pointer, while retrieving seven rebounds and making two assists. Unshakeable on defense, she also came up with a couple of steals.

When Jackson is finding the basket, along with Myisha Hines-Allen and Mariya Moore, this Louisville basketball team can be a dominating force. Take it from 17th-ranked Miami. The Hurricanes trailed by 19 points at the half, after being outscored 22-2 by the Cardinals.

Hines-Allen barely missed her 10th double-double of the season, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Nine of those points out of 10 free throw attempts. Moore collecting 14 points, including four out of five 3-point shots, to go with her three rebounds, three assists and two steals.

UofL would score 21 straight in the third quarter, leading by 35 points at one point, enabling Jackson, Hines-Allen and Moore to watch the fourth quarter on the bench.

The win lifts UofL to a 23-6 record for the season and 14-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Last home game is Sunday, folks, against Pittsburgh at 12:30 a.m. at the KFC Yum! Start the day off right, grab brunch in the morning, and feast on the Cardinals in the afternoon.

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 (ESPN3.com).

“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.