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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday Cardinal Couple -- Yes, they are watching...



The nationwide attention being bestowed on UofL WBB ex-stars Shoni Schimmel and Angel McCoughtry is undoubtedly the most attention ever paid to former Cardinal athletes in any professional venue in Cardinal sports history.

Name me two ex-Cards that are grabbing headlines for an entire season like #35 and #23 are gathering.

Pro football? Teddy will get press...but he isn't even guaranteed a starting job yet...much less being a starter in the All-Star game. me (3) UofL football graduates that are grabbing headlines in the NFL.

NBA? I'll propose the same question. How many Pitino
alumni were starters in the All-Star game and how many have gone the to NBA Finals or led the league in scoring? 

So...why the overwhelming success for Walz's prodigies?

The talent level is your first key. Shoni and Angel are two completely different types of basketball players...but get it done in their own unique way and have a fan base that gravitates to them. 

Coaching is the second reason. Would have either Angel or Shoni reached the platitudes they now are bestowed if they had gone to Georgetown? Or Oregon? 

Let's face it. Both are strong-willed, determined women. Not many coaches in college hoops could have handled the task of developing their game skills, dealing with their drive and desire and balanced their skills with their idiosyncrasies. 

Thank you, Mad Scientist and staff...for possessing those juggling skills and keeping your sanity at the same time.

I was asked the other many more Shoni's and Angel's will Walz turn out in the future?

The answer

The two are unique and cannot be duplicated. There is strong chance, though...that the procession to the WNBA will continue for a Jane Smith or Sally Brown or Sandy White. Or choose any name you want. Different players, different skills. There are no clones. 

Think back to how many times you saw Shoni or Angel take over games and bring the Cards back from the abyss and either win or get back into contests.

Desire. Will. Determination. Hungry and driven. 

You must also credit a coach that is willing to overlook one miscue or errant play because he knows he's going to get four or five spectacular ones in return to offset them.  Risk vs. reward. 

Rolling the dice and winning. 

Look to Geno Auriemma as the kingpin for developing WNBA talent. And look at Jeff Walz as a younger, heir apparent to developing and honing the skills of the future WNBA talent.

Walz is confident and correct in his advice to players that if they will just listen to the coaching staff and follow the game strategy, they will be successful and win. 

Yes, these next Shoni's and Angel's...they will come. They may already be on campus. They've probably been to the camps. They know about the tradition and fan support for Louisville women's basketball.

And you can't buy that on the shelf at Food World.  

It's often can lead a horse to water but you can't make the horse drink. 

With Jeff's more like catching the wild horse from the pack, using freedom, disciplinary skills, coaching and teaching to turn the horse into a capable thoroughbred that eventually rises to the lead and wins the race by utilizing their own skills, the wise coaching advice and strategy and having that desire to win. 

Keep training, coach.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday Cardinal Couple -- "Moore" points. Atlanta falls to Minn.


- Minnesota defeats Atlanta 102-98 in double overtime

It had the feel of the WNBA Finals on a hot summer night in Minneapolis...Maya Moore totaling a career and franchise high 48 points against a Dream team that had rallied from a 14-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter.

Heritage Night in the Target Center. A "sho" during the action as well.

Shoni Schimmel continued her hot streak since the WNBA All-Star game, with five threes and 17 points. A chance to win it for Atlanta in regulation...her twisting, behind-the-back, driving layup in the lane through three Lynx defenders resulting in a layup that hung tantalizingly on the rim before dropping off. 

Michael Cooper? Take all the time you need to recover from your surgery. This was fun basketball to watch. The team is in good hands under the observation of assistant coach Karleen Thompson.

Angel McCoughtry, all about the business...saddled with some late foul trouble...but responding by narrowly missing a three at the end of the first overtime. Her back-to-back threes putting Atlanta up by six in the overtime before Minnesota roared back to tie.

Sorry #35. You weren't fouled on the buzzer shot. But...several of the calls on you during the contest were imaginary. Give Angel 21 for the night and some of the best facial expressions and emoting of the season. She wears her heart on her sleeve, like Shoni...and it's great theater. 

In the end, though...the Lynx re-discovered Moore, who had been shut down by Atlanta for nearly fifteen minutes and her two jumpers gave Minnesota a five point lead late. 

Asia Taylor, getting plenty of TV exposure but never getting a chance to take off the warmups and see action. With Rebekkah Brunson back from knee surgery and providing a double-double in her first game back...Asia may have the best seat in the house for the remainder of the Lynx's attempt to capture a third WNBA title.

The WNBA needed to capture this one in a jar and bring it out for national TV games. The Fox Sports North announcers...obviously pro-Lynx and Atlanta ignorant...weren't all that bad in comparison to some of the "Four-letter network" game callers we'll have to endure when women's college hoops returns. Maybe the ACC will take notice and offer the two ladies a gig for conference games.

On a night where Maya Moore demonstrated why she is the best player in the WNBA, the Atlanta Dream showed that they are gunning to face the Lynx and Moore again in the playoffs for the third straight year and have an additional weapon to bring to the fray...a passing, shooting and take-charge rookie by the name of Shoni.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Tuesday Cardinal Couple - Favorite Fall Venues

Favorite Fall Venues

Saturday, Paulie gave us five of his wishes for fall for UofL athletics...and probably stretched it a bit by talking about Basketball and a catch-all at the end, but hey, its his site, he can do what he wants.

I'd like to riff on that theme a slight bit and talk a bit about the fall venues, with a look at which venues I'm most looking forward to visiting to watch fall sports.

#1 Lynn Stadium

OK, this one really can't be much of a surprise.  There's definitely a novelty factor here, but I truly am looking forward to watching UofL Soccer compete at the spiffy new Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium.  The towering roof over the primary seating area teased me all through Lacrosse season.  With seating for approximately 5,300, this will be a significant upgrade for watching soccer from the Cardinal Park Stadium.  2,300 chairback seats more than equals the total built-in bench seating capacity in Cardinal Park.  Bleacher seating behind the east end-zone increases the capacity another 900, the rest is berm seating.  At Cardinal Park I've enjoyed both sitting in the bleachers and standing in the end-zones equally.  I can't wait to see what its like to do the same at Lynn Stadium.  I also get the privilege of experiencing press-box hospitality, and with the upgrade that happened at Ulmer Stadium for Softball, I can't wait to see what they've done for Soccer.

#2 Brown Rowing Center

For two years now, I've gone to Waterfront Park in October to the G. Garvin Brown III Rowing Center for the Red and Black Regatta.  The only real chance to see the UofL Rowing team in action, even if it is only a scrimmage, it also serves as an open house for UofL fans to see the amazing waterfront facility where the second largest team in the UofL Athletic Department practices.  The Brown Rowing Center is spectacular, and I don't want to pass up the opportunity to show my support for the UofL team that probably gets the least support from the fan base with the complete lack of home competitions.  Derek Copeland proved himself an excellent host last year with food for all, and of course with the various rowers around to answer questions and provide impromptu tours of the boathouse, its all a fan could ask for.

#3 Cardinal Arena

Sure, you knew Volleyball was going to make the list, but you probably figured I'd list the KFC Yum! Center, but to tell you the truth, despite it being an older facility...perhaps the least recently updated athletic facility at the University...I really relish the chances to watch Volleyball at Cardinal Arena.  There's a very definite charm to watching events at Cardinal Arena, obviously seating capacity is limited...too limited for UofL Volleyball, honestly...but that just makes the atmosphere electric.  Volleyball has drawn nearly 1,300, for a big match (Kentucky, in September of 2009), in a facility that officially seats 840, and you can imagine how loud a crowd like that was in an arena of that size.  You're right on top of the action at Cardinal Arena...enough so that you need to stay alert for volleyballs flying into the stands and if you're lucky enough to have a first-row seat in the west-side seating, maybe a player or two!  (Team benches and officials tables block the path to the east-side stands.)  Of course, any visit to the KFC Yum! Center is a treat and being able to have crowd sizes for Volleyball well upwards of 2,000 is a privilege that only a few teams have, but do yourself a favor and catch a match or two...or all six this Cardinal Arena.

#4 Ralph Wright Natatorium

I've only ever been to one Swimming and Diving meet, and alas my visit got cut short by a crisis at my place of work.  Coming off of an amazing year, I hope to lend some more support to another team that doesn't typically get a lot of attention at UofL.  Free admission, concessions, and a typically great UofL facility to be proud of.  I didn't get the opportunity to see any of the diving competition in my previous visit, I plan to remedy that.

#5 Trager Stadium

Field Hockey is a sport that I'm still learning about, so every visit to Trager Stadium, in the Marshall Center/Field Hockey Complex is a fascinating experience.  Field Hockey, much like Lacrosse, is really a thrilling sport to watch, and Justine Sowry's rapid-fire substitution patterns only add to the excitement.  Whether you like to be right on top of the action, or elevated above to have a better view of the overall field, there's turf level bleachers, as well as elevated stands to accommodate your desires.  If you get excited enough that you prefer to stand, there's even some limited space for standing at mid-field.  Field Hockey is another sport that has free admission, along with a concession stand including a beer license, and fans that will gladly help you learn about the sport.


I heartily agree with Worldwide Jeff's choices and it only takes your veteran Paulie a few minutes to remember all the Volleyball matches at one time were at Cardinal Arena, women's soccer was at Cardinal Park, when there was no rowing facility,  swimming meets were held in the pool in the basement of Crawford Gym and Field Hockey was battling it out in the MAC Conference and playing matches on the intramural football field.

UofL has come so far... it's hard to imagine what else Tom Jurich & crew can expand on. Stay tuned, though, and trust in Tom....if there is a will and a way, he will get it done. 



Monday Cardinal Couple -- Great Scott! -- Courtney Scott headed to Maryland Softball


- Softball assistant to take Terps head coaching position

- Want to see it again? Shoni aerial attack revisited...

If Sandy Pearsall needs to issue "Hello, My Name Is..." tags this fall to her coaching staff, one can give her a dispensation and understand why.

In the third coaching change within a week for Louisville Softball, assistant coach Courtney Scott is expected to be named head coach at Maryland today. 

The move follows the hiring of Stacy May Johnson at UofL earlier in the week and the departure of Carol Bruggermann. 

Someone run down to campus and see if the stadium is still named Ulmer.

The move for Scott is a good one an a return to territory she is familiar with. Scott spent two years on the Maryland staff before coming to Louisville in 2010. Her bio at Louisville is impressive, to say the least:

Under Scott's tutelage, Maryssa Becker was named to the 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-Central Region second team as a pitcher/utility player. She became the first Louisville freshman to earn all-region honors since Keola Calderon was named to the South Region second team in 2000, the program's inaugural season. Becker was named one of the top 25 finalists for the inaugural National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy and earned American Athletic Conference second team honors.

The 2013 UofL pitching staff posted a 2.38 ERA and led the league with 47 wins. Catcher Maggie Ruckenbrod also led the conference with 11 pickoffs and earned NFCA All-Region second team honors. Pitchers Caralisa Connell and Rachel LeCoq were selected to the All-BIG EAST second team while Ruckenbrod was named to the third team.

The Cards' pitching staff was ranked fourth in the nation in 2012, with a 1.39 ERA while Chelsea Leonard led the nation with 12 saves. Pitcher Tori Collins and catcher Taner Fowler were tabbed NFCA All-Americans and pitcher Caralisa Connell earned All-BIG EAST honors. Along with the success of the team came honors for the Cards' coaching staff which was named the NFCA Great Lakes Valley and BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year.

In her first season (2011), Scott's pitching staff battled injury, but still posted 38 wins and 13 shutouts. Tori Collins finished the season ranked 10th in the nation with 10 shutouts. Caralisa Connell earned All-BIG EAST honors in her rookie campaign. Fellow freshmen Maggie Ruckenbrod and Taner Fowler teamed to pick off a league-best 13 runners.

Her departure leaves Coach Pearsall with one assistant coach left from the 2013 season...volunteer coach Jim Miller. No word yet on who will replace Scott.

The Maryland search for a new head coach began on June 25th:

After nine years at the helm and following the worst season in the program's history, Maryland softball head coach Laura Watten will "pursue other opportunities."

The Cards mirror the Terps in several aspects...going into a new conference, facing changes in the Softball coaching staff and coming off a less than spectacular season. Pearsall will miss the wise guidance available from Bruggermann and the pitching staff development from Scott...but the fact still remains that the Cards have one of the best head coaches in Division I Softball. Pearsall has great talent returning and a very impressive freshman class waiting to get on the diamond. 

Best of luck to Courtney Scott from all of us at CARDINAL COUPLE in her new job and we hope you can return Maryland Softball to prominence. 


If you happened to miss the "Schimmel Show" Saturday in the WNBA All-Star's a "brief" recap of the 3-point barrage. 

Yup. Same ol' Shoni. Same ol' magic....Link and address:


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Cardinal Couple -- A great "Sho" in the Desert


- Shoni's 29 highest ever point total in WNBA All-Star game

East's Shoni Schimmel (23), of the Atlanta Dream, passes off the backboard to teammate Angel McCoughtry, of the Atlanta Dream, during the second half of the WNBA All-Star basketball game, Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Phoenix. The East won 125-124 in overtime. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Shoni up to her old tricks in her All-Star debut.
The Umatilla Thrilla...our Louisville rookie who doesn't even start for her own team, put on a record-breaking performance...scoring 29 points to help the East beat the West 125-124 on Saturday in the first WNBA All-Star game to go to overtime.
Nailing huge shot after huge shot in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a behind-the-head flip over 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner, Schimmel gave the fans a great show. After all, it's what she does and who she is. "Sho-time".
Schimmel averages 7.1 points in limited time for Atlanta, yet she was voted in as an All-Star starter because of the huge nationwide and Native American following she has. With 17 family members and her brothers wearing "Rez Ball Rules" t-shirts, cheering her on...Schimmel earned MVP honors.
"Being Native American, it's a huge accomplishment to go out there and be in the WNBA. To have the fans look up to me and to a role model not only for my siblings but also the Native American fans, the Native American people. It's huge. I take on my shoulders because I enjoy it."
Tamika Catchings, an All-Star for a record-tying ninth time, made a layup with 6.9 seconds to go to give the East the lead and then knocked the ball away from Skylar Diggins on the defensive end to seal the victory. Diggins finished with 27 points and seven assists, leading a furious West rally to force overtime.
Brittney Griner, of the host Mercury, scored 17 points, including the third WNBA All-Star dunk, for the West.
Shoni took the MVP honors...the first rookie to do so in the WNBA...and also shared the secret of her success...
"It was awesome, just to be able to go out there and play my game, have fun," Schimmel said, "feel free to go out there and play 'rez ball.'"
Schimmel earned her "Sho-time" nickname at Louisville. It hasn't really carried over to the Dream yet. She was drafted eighth by the team and has only started twice. She's just the third reserve player ever to start a WNBA All-Star game, according to STATS. Any grumbling about her inclusion vanished in an electric second half and overtime, when she scored 24 points.
Maya Moore scored 24 for the West. Tina Charles had 19, Chiney Ogwumike 15, Catchings 14 and Angel McCoughtry 13 for the East.
Diggins, the WNBA's No. 2 scorer, had six of the West's last eight points in regulation, capped by a layup off a turnover with 26.3 seconds to go to tie it at 112-112.

The East came out flat in the overtime. 
Griner opened with a layup and Moore's 3-pointer put the West up 124-117 with 1:59 to play.
But Katie Douglas sank a 3 to cut it to 124-120 with 1:15 to go, then Schimmel made her seventh trifecta of the afternoon with 41.9 seconds left to cut the West lead to 124-123.
Catchings' driving layup and Diggins' turnover finally put an end to the frenetic contest.
Maybe Michael Cooper, who coaches the Atlanta Dream and also coached the winning East squad finally gets it. If a play-off trip is where you want to go...start the "Sho".  Cooper, a defensive specialist during his days in the NBA, is sitting on a powder keg.

Maybe he needs to have a friendly chat with Jeff Walz (who was in Phoenix for the game). Fans come to see offense. With Angel and Shoni on his roster, he has more offensive firepower than most WNBA squads. He needs to use it.

The season will continue. On this special Saturday, though...the best of the best got together for one incredible game and the newest kid on the block took home all the marbles. 
(Parts of this article are from The Huffington Post) 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Cardinal Couple -- Fall wishes


- Things we'd like to see this fall

Even though we are in the mid-summer season (although you could hardly tell it by the weather the last couple of days) one can't help thinking ahead to the fall...and the advent of fall athletics for the University of Louisville women's squads.

Thinking ahead entails for us here at CARDINAL COUPLE several things. We won't have to think at all about conference more "who's in what?"...the ACC encompasses all the teams on campus.

Thinking ahead also involves the major sports and activities that we'll be covering. Just ahead are basketball, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, cross country, rowing, swimming and diving, golf and tennis.

Here's five things we hope to see in the fall:

1) Good reports from the women's basketball program on preparations for the 2014-15 schedule. It is a pivotal year for the program...with the biggest recruiting class on campus since 2009.

2) Evidence that Volleyball is taking their new affiliation with the same successful results they had in 2013. Three conferences in three years and a lot of new faces on Anne Kordes' roster.

3) Huge crowds in the new Louisville Soccer Complex on campus to see the Cards compete in the best women's soccer conference in collegiate athletics.

4) Field Hockey ripping through a tough and challenging pre-conference schedule and holding their own against the best field hockey conference in collegiate athletics.

5) Wins and high national ranking for all the fall sports programs as they enter the challenging and competitive ACC.

It's tough being the new kid on the block. It's also something you can use to your advantage...since your opponents have only a vague idea what to expect.

WE have a feeling that the schools stretching from Massachusetts to Miami will discover they've admitted a program that will be competitive and successful every time they step on a competition venue in any sport. As we've said here before...we hope it's a case of the ACC adjusting to Louisville, not Louisville adjusting to the ACC...


Radio today.

A bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived and just back from vacation Paulie will join Worldwide in the studio this morning at 11 a.m. to discuss the upcoming events for Louisville women's athletics and our stars in the WNBA.

If there is a theme for today's would have to be "changes". Tune in to hear about them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Cardinal Couple -- How will the loss of Breedlove and Niamke affect 2014-15 UofL WBB?


- How much will Louisville WBB miss Monny and Starr? 

Monny Niamke and Starr Breedlove will not be on the 2014-15 University of Louisville women's basketball team. A look at the 2014-15 roster shows eight returning players and five freshmen are on campus and already attending summer classes. The question was posed to me about the departure of Monny and Starr and how it will affect the team. 

UofL loses two of the three "attack yorkies"...a term that Worldwide, Jenny and I coined several years ago when Shelby Harper and Jude Schimmel were the backup guards at UofL. The girls were small in size but ferocious with their on-court tenacity and ability to hound and pressure larger opponent guards. 

If Starr had stayed, free from the concussion syndrome that
kept her sidelined for most of the 2013-14 season, her role would have been slightly increased but her chances of breaking the top three guards very remote. Bria, Jude and Megan have that role wrapped up...although it will be interesting to see who handles the offense as point guard. Both Bria and Jude logged plenty of time there last season. So...who moves to "2" and replaces Shoni? 

The truth is...we just never got to see enough of Starr to make a firm determination on how she would have fit into the 2014-15 roster. And, for a lot of college players, playing time is down the road she goes in search of it. Our best guess would be a NAIA program where she can play and start right away. 

As far as Monny goes, she was a late game defensive replacement that never developed much of a shot or ability to run the offense in her time at Louisville. She was recruited by Walz out of France, spent a year at Lindsey Wilson (NAIA) sat the bench at Louisville and now heads back to the NAIA somewhere. 

Louisville currently has four listed guards if you add sensational 5'8" incoming freshman Arica Carter. At 5'8" she's too tall by our judging standards to be an "attack Yorkie"...but has the game to be a defensive stopper. We can pretty much surmise she would have been that "4th" guard that Walz would have gone to if Monny and Starr had stayed. She also plopped in a ton of points in high school as a combo guard at Long Beach Poly.

One couldn't blame Megan Deines for occasionally looking over her shoulder nervously. The reports we're getting is that she's really picked her game up as she prepares for her junior year. We're pretty sure she's looking for more playing time than she had as a sophomore. 

So, the roster sits at 13. We have this feeling that there could be another announcement or two when we get to August. A speculated transfer, ex-UCF guard Briahanna Jackson, is 5'4" and would qualify as "attack Yorkie" material. She was also CUSA freshman of the year and was averaging 17 points a game at the Orlando school in 2013-14 before leaving the squad. If she does end up at Louisville, with 14 games under her belt in 2013-14...we surmise she wouldn't be available under after the first semester of the 2014-15 season....but we're no experts on NCAA eligibility and guidelines. As of today, Jackson hasn't sent any word out on where she'll be spending the 2014-15 season. 

There is always the possibility that Walz could also have a future Card he hasn't laid on the table yet in terms of transfers. We've been surprised before on late announcements. The mad scientist always has a surprise or two tucked away in the deep recesses of the 2nd floor SAC laboratory/offices. He's even taught 16 month old daughter Lola how to effectively end press conferences. 

So... despite the loss of two reserve guards and four outstanding seniors...Walz still has plenty of Cards to shuffle and deal. Coach will tell you that players earn their time. Asia, Tia, Shoni and Nita earned their spots. They'll be hard to replace. Who will grab those departed minutes?

The clock is ticking.