Sorry to see the 20-game win streak come to an end for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. Such a great achievement, providing a distraction for a fan base needing a reprieve from an onslaught of bad news. A fan base that was believing this could be a special season.
Indeed, the popularity of women’s basketball in Louisville was set to go through the roof. The Cardinals had attracted 12,614 for the game against Notre Dame last week and drew 14,248 against Florida State on Sunday. They could have owned the town had they made one more basket.
Asking a lot, with the Cardinals making only 22 of 63 field goal attempts. Florida State’s shooting was even worse, connecting on only 19 of 68 shots. The Seminoles would stagger out of the KFC Yum! Center with the win. So motivated that they could overcame a dreadful shooting day on UofL’s home court.
The loss bringing the shocked and disappointed UofL women back down to earth, confirming Coach Jeff Walz’s belief that his team could ill afford to let off the gas. Having struggled to put a 9-10 Pittsburgh team away earlier in the week, he warned they needed to be more consistent.
The temptation for many UofL fans was to look ahead to the showdown at UConn on February 12. Wondering if this was the season when UofL could seriously challenge the Huskies. There was a growing chorus that Louisville had a great team, with Final Four potential, and was a possible national championship contender.
Explaining the big surge in attendance after averaging 6,000-plus for most of the season. In previous years, the Cardinals had averaged between 8,000 and 9,000 per game. Casual fans jumping back on the bandwagon, believing UofL could possibly challenge UConn for once.
The loss to Florida State a rude awakening, a realization that Louisville has to get better if it is to seriously challenge UConn, 18-0 and No. 1 in the latest Associated Press poll. They will meet February 12th at Hartford. UofL has lost 16 of 17 games against the Huskies, with their last win coming in 1993. UConn has pummeled the Cardinals by an average of 24.7 points in their last 10 meetings.
That was the game everybody was looking forward to, regardless of the one game-at-the-time mantra. A chance to finally challenge UConn, with one of Louisville’s best teams ever.
All they have proven thus far is that they can compete with the best and struggle against mediocre teams. No time to worry about UConn for now, not with four road games at Miami, Virginia, Syracuse, and Clemson, and a home game against Wake Forest over the next couple of weeks.
The UConn game now could be a major distraction, coming as it does in the midst of nine remaining ACC games. Winning an ACC title has to come first on Jeff Walz’s list of priorities. Granted, however, a win over UConn would not be very far behind, during the regular season or in post-season play.