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.

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.

Rags to riches as Louisville enters Atlantic Coast Conference

Forgive University of Louisville fans if they seem to be walking on air the next few weeks and months. No waking up, shaking their collective head and realizing it was all a dream. They’re living it. A new era in UofL athletics and academics begins Tuesday as the University is officially welcomed into the Atlantic Coast Conference.

To fully appreciate the significance of the move, one would have had to have followed Louisville for seven decades through the various conferences in which UofL has participated during one’s lifetime, seven conference affiliations during that span. Check that. Make it eight now — the ultimate conference, the ACC. Member institutions speak volumes about the quality of the conference — Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Boston College, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Miami. And, of course, Notre Dame in every sport except football.ACC-logo-with-Louisville-Cardinal-Bird

The premier destination for a program that has competed at the highest levels for decades despite tremendous obstacles, overcoming the stigma of mid-major status in struggling conferences, achieving national respect despite severe scheduling challenges.  Building for the future, investing in athletic facilities second to none, hoping, wishing, praying not to be left out when the final bell rings for conference realignment.

Some really dark days there for a while, more than five years, watching conferences expand and implode, prominent members leaving the Big East Conference, watching a once proud league steadily implode. There would be tantalizing, sometimes conflicting rumors of possible inclusion in the Big XII only to lose out to West Virginia in the end. Any chance of getting into the SEC expansion blocked by a rival university. The ACC said to be beyond UofL’s reach for geographic and academic reasons. Anxious UofL fans scouring the Internet daily dissecting dozens of rumors, parsing official statements, watching and waiting, trusting all the while in the abilities of Tom Jurich to prevail against sometimes overwhelming odds.

Being excluded would have been a crushing blow to fans for whom the University is like a second family. Missing out would surely mean being forever banished to the ranks of the also-rans, getting shut out in the recruiting wars, being relegated to second-rate football bowls, relying on past accomplishments with little odds of seriously being respected in the national polls. The situation was undeniably bleak until the Big 10 decided to expand again in November 2012, extending invitations to Rutgers and Maryland. The ACC needed to replace Maryland. At long last, the gods were smiling on UofL.

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