The Force is strong, Louisville women zap Pittsburgh

starwars 2271 copyDarth Vadar, Princess Leia and Kylo Ren, aka Mike, Theresa and Aspen Schmidt, were among the 11,641 fans watching the Louisville women demolish Pittsburgh on Star Wars Day at the KFC Yum! Center.

The Force fully embraced the University of Louisville women’s basketball team three days earlier when the Cardinals dissected 17th-ranked Miami on the Hurricanes’ home court, giving UofL sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Characters from the seven different Star Wars movies arrived Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center to see the UofL women conclude the regular season, Darth Vadar was everywhere it seemed, usually in the company of Princess Leia, or Yoda. Boba Fet here, Chewbacca there, Yoda here, and Storm Troopers everywhere. The visiting Pittsburgh women never had a chance, The Force so prominent, so pervasive, so obviously leaning UofL’s way.

Yoda, in the person of Noah Tiwari, won best costume.
Yoda, in the person of Noah Tiwari, who won best costume, poses with the Cardinal Bird.

The Louisville women erupted early, claiming a 14-0 lead, stretching it to 27-4, and and 42-10 at the end of the first half.  When it was all over, UofL had prevailed 65-36, improving its overall record to 24-6 and claiming the runner-up spot in the ACC with a 15-1 record.

Leading the charge again was Myisha Hines-Allen, scoring nine of Louisville’s first 10 points after tipoff. She would score 13 points in the first quarter, going on to achieve her ninth double-double of the season and 10th of her career, with 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting and 13 rebounds.

“We had a lot of energy coming out,” said sophomore Myisha Hines-Allen, in a possible thinly-veiled reference to The Force. Whatever, Hines-Allen has been imposing her will on ACC opponents with regularity of late.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 4.54.04 PM“She’s just a really tough matchup right now for a lot of people,” said UofL Coach Jeff Walz, “and if she continues – you’re getting 25 points on 14 shots – that’s pretty darn good.”

Briahanna Jackson continuing to feel The Force as well, an inexhaustible source of energy, the player nobody wants defending them. No breathing while she’s around. She’s a marvel to watch around the basket, sometimes getting ahead of herself but always entertaining to watch. Notching 12 points, three rebounds and four assists.

Taja Cole coming around, notching six points and five assists in this one.

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Courtnee Walson left midway in the first quarter and didn’t return after injuring a pinky finger. She should be ready to go again in the ACC Tournament.

The second-seeded Cardinals will play at 6 p.m. on Friday against the winner of No. 7-seed Georgia Tech and No. 10 Wake Forest/No. 15 Clemson.

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 holds Pitt under 50 points

Going into the second half this observer was only hoping the University of Louisville football team would somehow manage to hold Pittsburgh to under 50 points. Good thing Bobby Petrino is not a pessimist, doesn’t think like that.

Trailing 42-24 after that gruesome first half, Petrino’s troops weren’t about to throw in the towel. The Cardinals would throw Lamar Jackson back in the mix, make some defensive adjustments, slow down the Pittsburgh ground game, and trim the deficit to eight points with over 12 minutes remaining in the game.

A miracle comeback in the making? No way. Just happy to be hanging close.

No realistic UofL fan had any serious thoughts about winning. Pittsburgh was just better in every phase of the game. Impressive effort during that second half, however, digging out of that deep hole. Just asking much too much to overcome.

The Cardinals would hold the Panthers to only three second-half points in the 45-34 loss. They did it while totaling a net gain of minus-one yards for the game. A few yards here and there would have made the potential for a successful rally more credible.

The quarterback situation is again up in the air. Kyle Bolin competed 10 of 20 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns while Lamar Jackson was good for nine of 17 attempts for 142 yards and a touchdown.  Both have managed to look mediocre against better teams this season. Kentucky will not be one of the better teams on the schedule but Petrino had better make the right choice.

Holding Pittsburgh to under 50 points was not a big deal. Petrino will have his team’s full attention next week, needing a win to end the regular season on a positive note in Lexington.


UofL needs to beat Pitt to ensure winning season

The University of Louisville football program could take a major step back to respectability with a win over Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on Saturday.

A day of assessment, of judgement, a time to measure just how far this team has come since losing its first three games and winning six of the next seven encounters. helmet

Pittsburgh looks good on paper, entering the game with a 7-3 won-loss record, those losses coming to good teams — Notre Dame, Iowa and North Carolina. However, the Panthers also struggled against Syracuse and Virginia, two common opponents UofL defeated.

Louisville, with Kyle Bolin calling the signals, is becoming more adept with the Bobby Petrino offense. The offensive line has also shown some signs of maturing, freeing up running lanes for Brandon Radcliff and more passing options for Bolin. If solving the Pittsburgh defense requires more creative approaches, there are backups Lamar Jackson and Reggie Bonnafon.

The Panthers have one of the top receivers in the country in Tyler Boyd, who has caught 69 passes for 700 yards and five touchdowns. They also have a solid quarterback in Nate Peterman, who has thrown for 1,776 yards and 14 touchdowns.  Running back Qadree Ollison has rushed for 859 yards and nine scores.

A bruising game is guaranteed, one of those intense conflicts in which the the game may not be decided until the final play.

While assured of bowl eligibility, UofL needs a victory against Pittsburgh to assure a winning season. That was not even a concern coming into the season. It is now and the Cardinals need to take care of business.

Seven questions as Louisville prepares for rematch with Pitt

Some questions as the University of Louisville basketball team meets Pittsburgh again Wednesday at the KFC Yum! Center. It’s second meeting between the teams this season, UofL winning the first game at Pittsburgh 80-68.

— Can UofL find its shooting eye again and match the 65.6% it had at Pittsburgh? Highly doubtful. The Cardinals have averaged 43.6% from the floor this season. As a result, this will be a much closer game.

David Levitch before and after the rally beard phase.
David Levitch before and after the rally beard phase of UofL’s season.

–Have the Panthers got their act together? Pitt has won three consecutive games, including one over Notre Dame. All three wins came at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh where the Panthers have won 90% of the time. They are 16-8 this season, 1-5 on the road.

— Will Rick Pitino still have his beard? This question has already been answered. He showed up his press conference Tuesday freshly shaven. with no mention of stubble or facial hair. The end of the rally beard, not exactly an innovative or inspiring approach, was predictable from the start.

— Who will start at center? Chinanu Onuaku, the player who looks the part but doesn’t seem to get it, Mangok Mathiang, who brings energy but goes all fumbly when he get the ball, or Anas Mahmoud, the player has gained 18 pounds since the season began but still needs 20 more to hold his ground? The guess here is Mahmoud because, despite his thinness, has a better feel for the game of basketball.

— Will any UofL center get any points? If a big man scores, it will be Mangok but the ball will bounce a couple of times and circle the rim before going through the net.

— Will any UofL reserve score? They haven’t had a basket in some 88 minutes of action. Yes, because Pitino will have invested some hours in setting up special plays for them. He getting tired of answering questions about the bench. The over and under is six points.

— Will David Levitch get in the game? Highly doubtful Pitino seems to have forgotten about him. He has played in only ACC game, the win over Virginia Tech on Jan. 13. He did score, however, making both of his free throw attempts. Points off the bench, not bad.