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October 10, 2013
Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz announced that Louisville was "just announced as a 2014 NCAA Regional Host" during the annual tipoff luncheon at the Crown Plaza in Louisville Wednesday.
Actually, fans were given about a two-hour heads-up by Walz as the official announcement was not made until 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
This is huge news and very exciting for Louisville women's basketball and for fans of women's basketball in general. This means Louisville could, in theory at least, play the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in front of a home crowd! What a HUGE advantage that gives this team to make yet another run at the Final Four, which is down the road a bit in Nashville. It is pretty exciting to think how little the team may have to travel to make it all the way to the championship game again!
Coach Walz issued a challenge to fans, and we (at the Cardinal Couple) will repeat it often, to get your seats for the Regional round of play as soon as tickets become available. Do NOT wait to see if Louisville makes it, by that time it is too late, as you are likely to be seated in the upper decks of the arena. (As an aside, this past season when Louisville hosted the 1st and 2nd round action, I bought my seats the day they went on sale. At that point I was able to handpick my seats, and I was able to keep my exact season ticket seats, which are pretty frickin' awesome. Moral of the story here is to buy early and buy many!)
The rest of the luncheon went off without a hitch with Walz being the keynote speaker. Each of the players were able to introduce themselves to the fans, with some humor peppered in from them. A few notable comments: freshman Emmonnie Henderson is studying civil engineering (WOW!), Sophomore Megan Deines is still undecided in a major so "I am just doing basketball", and senior Tia Gibbs got a laugh from the crowd introducing herself as an "8th-year senior. "
Fans were treated to highlights from last years improbable run to the championship game. If that video does not get a little tinge in your step or tickle in the bottom of your belly, you're rooting for the wrong team! It furthers this fan's anticipation of the season, and the team and coaching staff are ready.
Walz said make no mistake, UofL Women's Basketball is not happy just making it to the final game, the goal is to win that last game. The team's effort during the off-season workouts and skill development is said to have reflected that, as well as that of the coaching staff who have spent an enormous amount of time out on the recruiting trail.
It was an exciting atmosphere, one where you could feel the energy in the room. In talking about this upcoming season we were reminded that the Cardinals return 4 starters from last years National Championship runner up, and add injured players Asia Taylor, Shawnta Dyer and Tia Gibbs to the mix. This team is undoubtedly one of the deepest talent at all positions, let's just keep them all healthy this year. Now that is something to get excited about!
The woman who sat next to me is a new season ticket holder this upcoming season, and was a first time attendee at the luncheon. She told me that after going to a couple of games each of the past two seasons it was too much fun, and such a great value for the entertainment that she and 3 girlfriends bought season tickets.
I have been ready for basketball season since about the first of May. But for some of you more tempered fans, the event had to stoke the fire and have you ready for the season. The season is 26 days away, with an exhibition game on Tuesday, November 5. Are you ready? I know I am.
Jenny O'Bryan is a staff columnist for CARDINAL COUPLE and one of the biggest women's basketball fans around. She also has a daughter who is a high school volleyball player and co-host of the CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR.