Cindy Rice Shelton photo
Myisha Hines-Allen cheering on her teammates from the sidelines in a milestone win over Stanford (Cindy Rice-Shelton photo).

Three hours before his team’s first game in the Lexington Regional, Jeff Walz bounded out of a Hilton Inn on South Broadway, headed in the direction of Star Bucks at the intersection. Getting out there with the people, excited, enjoying the moment.

The University of Louisville coach, not one to wait behind the scenes, shaking hands with some surprised fans. Walz wanting to kill time before the game, making small talk, thanking people for their support and best wishes.  

Jeff Walz with Lucy, his youngest daughter, just minutes before tipoff in an NCAA Regional game (Courier-Journal photo).

Fast forward to just a few minutes before tipoff, and there’s Walz sitting on the sideline with his youngest daughter in his lap. Smiles on both of their faces, the coach singing along to a song by Journey on the public address system. This was a game the UofL coach was going to enjoy, knowing his team was prepared. His confidence would be rewarded a couple of hours later with Louisville prevailing in an 86-59 decision over Stanford.

Afterwards a reporter asked Walz about the father-daughter time before tip-off, wondering whether or not the coach should have been stressed before the game. 

Asia Durr back on her game, leading all scorers with 24 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“Not one bit,” he replied. “We’ve done all of our work, and then my time comes when the game starts. Before that, I’m not one of those, you can’t talk to me, don’t do that. Again, that’s why I love coaching women’s basketball … Memories like that that I’ll be able to sit there and share with her in 10 years.”

Walz actually has three daughters and will have some good times recalling with them the first game between the UofL women and Stanford, one of the most feared programs in women’s college basketball.  Memories about a close-knit team, with players he considers a family.

“Our locker room is great, and that’s what it’s been like. You know, when you’ve got players that are excited for each other and not necessarily worried about themselves,” he said.  “This group of kids, they love — they just love being around each other. They love playing with each other, and we have fun. I mean, we literally have a good time.”

Having a good time, sharing the ball, claiming a win against another big program. Four players in double figure scoring — Asia Durr with 24, Myisha Hines-Allen with 17, Arica Carter with 13 and Jazmine Jones with 10. Sam Fuehring also making her presence felt with 11 rebounds and nine points.

This UofL family enjoying every minute, having fun, making memories and staying alive in the NCAA. 

Slide show courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton. Do yourself a favor and click on a photo for a slideshow:

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.