Louisville women dispatch Western Kentucky in opener

As he entered the opening game against Western Kentucky, Coach Jeff Walz was looking for someone who will take control when the going gets tense for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team.  Walz is probably still looking that certain someone after a 75-56 win.

Elizabeth Balogun was hot in her UofL debut, the transfer from Georgia Tech hitting five of six three-point attempts.

Gotta keep a close eye on newcomer Elizabeth Balogun, a sophomore transfer from Georgia Tech. She hit all four of her three-point shots in the first half, including the one that gave UofL a nine-point lead at intermission. She would wind up with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Dana Evans, meanwhile, was scoring a game-high 19 points while handing out three assists, grabbing two rebounds and a steal. Elizabeth Dixon, another sophomore transfer from Georgia Tech, registered a double-double on 10 points and 13 rebounds in her debut as a Cardinal. Norika Konno, a freshman from Japan, was a steady performer, collecting nine points.

Yacine Diop and Kylee Shook both slow getting out of the gate, scoring a total of four points between them in 27 minutes of playing time.

Attendance was 8,304. Louisville entertains Murray State on Friday at the KFC Yum! Center.

Photo gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton.

UofL baseball gains edge over Western Kentucky in 93-year series

UofL’s Colin Lyman is safe at first base as Western Kentucky’s Nathan Methvin mishandles the ball (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The University of Louisville baseball team was back in town Tuesday, enjoying the friendly confines of Jim Patterson Stadium where the UofL had yet to lose after 15 games at home.

Little drama in this one with the Cardinals pounding out 17 hits in an 11-1 win over Western Kentucky.mWins over WKU are not taken lightly, not with the series dating back to 1924. With the win, UofL now owns a 65-64 advantage in the series.

Brendan McKay, who had one hit in 10 at-bats in the weekend series against Boston College, had three hits, including a double, while scoring two runs and batting in another. He is currently hitting .431. Devin Hairston, at his best with runners on base, had two hits and drove in two runs while raising his batting average to .340.

The win improved the second-ranked Cardinals to 22-2 for the season. They travel to Virginia for a three-game series this weekend.

Get up early for Western Kentucky

How are noon starts for basketball games any different from those for football games?  Not much. Too early for people who need to get a few things done over the weekend, especially during the holiday season.

At least groggy fans don’t have to be in a party mood at 9 a.m., getting food ready, tossing lawn chairs in the car trunk. Or eating breakfast two hours later than normal in a parking lot, huddling around a barbecue grill attempting to get warm. Just hop in the vehicle and head for the KFC Yum! Center around mid-morning.

Actually the best thing about the University of Louisville’s basketball game against Western Kentucky this weekend may be that it isn’t on a Sunday, causing many fans to miss church, NFL football games and Sunday afternoon naps. Games against WKU often induce drowsiness, even among UofL players, which would help explain why WKU still owns 39-37 edge in the all-time series.

WKU piled up wins during the late Thirties and early Forties, winning 21 of 24 games, including a curious 2-0 win over UofL in February 1936. Louisville has won 21 of the last 25 meetings between the two schools, the most recent loss, a 68-54 decision coming in 2008 … on a Sunday afternoon.

Petrino pounces on Western Kentucky

The folks at Western Kentucky University refuse to be irrelevant.

Just when WKU athletics have all but vanished from the public consciousness, the school does the unexpected, pulling the occasional upset in basketball or football. 

The latest surprise is the hiring of Bobby Petrino as the head football coach, a move sure to generate lots and lots of press for WKU, most of it negative, but putting Western Kentucky football in the national discussion. That’s apparently what WKU wants most, to be relevant.

Sending messages to Louisville and Lexington that Western Kentucky will be taken seriously in the state, even if requires taking  shortcuts with the hire of someone whom many consider deceitful and unreliable.

Petrino will reportedly have a four-year contract, with a base of $850,000 per year. Incentives include $10,000 per year for 12,000 season tickets per year, $300,000 for BCS bowl,  $25,000 national Coach of the Year, and $10,000 for 3.0 team grade point average. He will owe the school $1.2 million if he terminates his contract.

Everybody knows what’s going on here, Petrino is using WKU as a crutch to resurrect his career after humiliating himself with all the deception associated with his romantic escapade and deception at Arkansas. None of the big time schools wanted to take a chance on him. Just yet.

Petrino will be the toast of Bowling Green. At least one new red Corvette with all the accessories every year, all he can eat at Verdi’s, free membership at the Crosswinds Golf Course, and passes to the Beech Bend Park & Splash Lagoon.  He will talk about how much he loves the school, the community and his players.

WKU will win more than a few football games, get more TV exposure, and possibly wriggle its way into Conference USA, thanks to Petrino’s presence. But their time in the spotlight will be brief, because Petrino won’t be there long.

Rick Pitino’s retirement rambling may have misfired

Interesting that Richard Pitino was among the first candidates to be mentioned when Western Kentucky Univeristy decided to fire basketball coach Ken McDonald.

Some believe Richard is ready to move on again, especially after Rick Pitino’s confusing remarks recently about retirement. So much for working together with dad long-term to build and maintain a powerhouse program.

If one is serious about winning national championships. one doesn’t set deadlines that would be can be used against him in recruiting battles, just as Army generals don’t advise tipping your hand in warfare, which college basketball is in this region.

Pitino indicated about 12 days ago that he would retire after his current contract ends at the University of Louisville after the 2016-17 season. It wasn’t the first time that he’s suggested the possibility of retirement, as if approaching the age of 60 came with some sort a countdown clock.

This past Friday, however, the coach was wondering how people had concluded that he had set a retirement date. “I set no retirement date,” he said. “That was a joke. I was talking about how much I’m enjoying my job. Suddenly I go home and it’s all over ESPN I set a retirement date.”

Almost an admission that he’s not serious about lots of things he says during his press conferences. He becomes an entertainer in front of a microphone, sometimes for the comedy, other times for drama, often coming up with surprising scenarios, anything but the predictable.

Our guess that he miscalculated the effect that his passing remark would have on people around him, possibly including some in his immediate family.