A healing place for Louisville basketball

Some healing was in order for a team questioning itself, looking for answers, needing to get past the disbelief, the uncertainty, and the disappointment. Needing a home game, needing some love, the warm embrace of fans at the KFC Yum! Center.

Equally important is that there is no more taking anybody for granted for this University of Louisville basketball team, not following the three-ring circus and five-overtime nightmare at South Bend.

Parity is reality, not coach speak any more, especially when every team knows exactly what you’re going to do next and is prepared to stop you, witness the fact that six St. John’s players accumulated seven blocks. Had they been better shooters, St. John’s could have added to the hurt, denying UofL the 72-58 win.

  • Russ Smith needed some redemption, taking a while to get going again. But when he did, he was at his best, making four assists to go with three steals and six rebounds. Found his shot again just when UofL needed it, giving his team some breathing room, leading all scorers with 24 points.
  • Peyton Siva needed to be a shooter again, quit hiding out behind all the assists, the dribbling and the dishing drives down the lane. He did, making four of nine shots to go with six assists.  Needed to be smarter on defense, committing only one foul while making a couple of steals.
  • Chane Behanan making only one turnover. One turnover, mind you, while pulling down eight rebounds and hitting five of eight field goal attempts for 10 points. Hanging on to the ball, that Chane in this game.
  • Gogui Dieng playing 37 minutes, the time taking a toll on his shooting, some weird ones at times, but still scoring 10 points. Good positioning, home court bounces and stubborn tenacity resulting in 17 rebounds.

Now may come the real test for this UofL team, with three consecutive unimpressive opponents straight ahead — Seton Hall, South Florida, and, yes, DePaul — the next three games. Teams that would be all too easy to overlook but each of them wanting to exact their pound of flesh.

Lady Cards down St. John’s

Jeff-Walz-UofLCardGame Jeff Walz watches intently as his team trades leads with St. John’s.

Sara Hammond is starting to shoot with confidence from the field for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team but it was her four consecutive free throws within the final three minutes that pulled UofL ahead to stay in a 57-54 win over St. John’s Sunday. She hit five of 10 field goal attempts and claimed eight rebounds.

Antonita Slaughter continues to excel despite collecting major press clippings during the week, leading all scorers with 22 points in a game witnessed by 11,543 fans at the KFC Yum! Center.

Big East Catholic schools rush to exit

Moving at record speed for a group of academic institutions, seven Catholic basketball schools have agreed to leave the Big East, according to a report from ESPN. They first discussed the possibility with Commissioner Mike Aresco on Sunday.

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova have finally seen the folly of mixing football and basketball-focused schools and may form still another conference. Pundits are already describing the new creation as the Big Priest Conference.

They may have to wait a while, however, because the Big East may have a case for requiring them to pay exit fees and requiring them to wait 27 months under league by-laws. Apparently the announced departure of the University of Louisville to the ACC and Rutgers University to the Big Ten was the final straw for the schools.

Don’t expect their plans to ease the way for an early departure of UofL to the ACC. An Coxey’s Army of lawyers is already involved, and the football schools in the Big East have the Catholic schools outnumbered 12 to 7.

Conference realignment continues to take some unpredictable turns.



Louisville soccer jams 10th-ranked St. John’s, eyes division title

by Andrew Melnykovych

Three important things the Louisville men’s soccer team likely gained by knocking off No. 10 St. John’s 1-0 Saturday:

  • The inside track on the Red Division title in the Big East. If they stay in first, they earn a bye in the first round of the conference tournament and the home-field advantage in the quarterfinal round. Given Louisville’s record at Cardinal Park this year, the latter is huge, since the likely opponent from the Blue Division could well be a top-10 team.
  • A boost in the end-of-season RPI ratings, which the NCAA uses in determining seedings for the national championship tournament.
  • Added confidence. Despite being outshot, the Cards managed to hang on to a 1-0 lead for more than an hour against a very good team.

Now it’s time to take that confidence to South Florida on Wednesday and earn a much-needed road win against quality opposition.

Louisville rains on St. John’s, 6-4

Dan McDonnell admits he’s stubborn when it comes to weather and baseball. He thought about playing two games Saturday because of a bad weather forecast.

The forecast for Sunday would be accurate. Louisvillians waking up to rain pounding on rooftops, the soaking continuing throughout the morning and well into the afternoon.

No way U of L is playing St. John’s is there? Not during a steady drizzle. Out of curiosity, the wipers going full blast, the observer tunes in 1570 on the car radio at one o’clock.

Surprise. Sean Moth is behind the microphone, calling the game. Not sounding good, Louisville behind 2-0 after three innings.

The next inning, however, Stewart Ijames will hit his 45th home run as a Cardinal, his 12th this season sending Ty Young across the plate and tying the score.  UofL will score four more in the sixth on a bases-loaded double by Kyle Gibson, who would score on a suicide squeeze bunt by Cole Stugeon.

Freshman Jared Ruxer picking up his seven win against one loss, thanks to some timely relief pitching by the versatile Sturgeon who cleans up Derek Self’s bases-loaded quagmire in the eighth inning, Louisville hanging on for a 6-4 win.

Rain or shine, McDonnell was going to make this game happen. The win returns UofL to one game behind St. John’s with three league games remaining.