Do you like women’s basketball?
Your answer would be “yes” if you watched the comeback of all comebacks, the University of Louisville’s 85-75 victory over Xavier University of Cincinnati for the NCAA Regional championship.
That game was played on Xavier’s home court, but you wouldn’t have known it by the cheering sections. A lot of red had the last cheer when the Cardinals rallied from nine down in the final nine minutes.
I have seen thousands of basketball games, high school boys and girls, college men and women, and professionals. Even the Globetrotters when they played NBA teams for real. This was one of the best games I have ever watched.
Apparently the NCAA thinks women’s games don’t have enough appeal to assure that all games are played on a neutral court. After winning in Cincy, the next stop on the road to the national championship was against Gonzaga in Gonzaga’s hometown, Spokane, Wash. That marked the third year in a row that Jeff Walz had guided his team to the Sweet 16.
And it may not be the last because the star of stars against Xavier was freshman point guard Shoni Schimmel who erupted for 33 points to lead a U of L attack that overwhelmed Xavier 27-8 in crunch time. She might have been of help to Rick Pitino’s team. I’m serious.
The U of L women’s team is one of several great stories.
- Schimmel is an American Indian who was a top 10 recruit last year.
- There is just one senior starter, Keshia Hines.
- Two Cardinal starters are sophomores, Tia Gibbs and Asia Taylor.
- Monique Reid, a junior, is the fifth regular.
- Walz didn’t have to go far to recruit Reid and Gibbs. Both are products of Jefferson County Public Schools.
- The impressive KFC Yum! Center helped Walz’s recruiting – and will continue to do so.
Walz famous name
Walz himself is U of L’s best story. Walz was a famous name in Kentucky basketball before the Cardinal coach. His sister, Jaime, was a scoring machine for Fort Thomas Highlands and she coaches her alma mater. Now she is Jaime Walz Richey.
Did you see the movie, “The King’s Speech”? It was about the English monarch who stuttered. It could have been about Jeff Walz and been called “The Coach’s Speech.”
Thanks to help from U of L teachers, his speech is much better now. He can joke about it with his girls, who delight in kidding back and forth with their coach.
Walz also is honest with his players. A couple of years ago when Angel McCoughtry was his All-American star, Walz overheard her talking about what riches awaited her in professional basketball. He had to break the news to her that there was a world of difference from what men earned in the NBA and what awaited her in the WNBA. Female players have to supplement their play-for-pay in one or two of several professional leagues around the world.
The City of Louisville and the University of Louisville got a tremendous plug last week when Goldman Sachs, the financial firm that arranged financing for the KFC Yum! Center, ran a full-page ad on the back page of USA Today’s sports section. A spectacular overhead view of the arena featured what it has done for “building businesses all over town.”
What you have read above is about the success of U of L’s women’s team. But the ad copy could have used an editor. The add referred to Louisville’s “beloved college basketball TEAM.”
A lot of U of L fans would have preferred “TEAMS.”
P.S. Danged if the same ad was used in Monday’s New York Times!
About the Author (Author Profile)
Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.