LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – For the University of Louisville basketball programs, it was a night for the stars to come out. And as the second Louisville Live celebration unfolded at Fourth Street Live, that’s exactly what happened.
U of L unleashed its star power in the second version of its outdoor preseason event, welcoming newly elected U of L Hall of Famer Angel McCoughtry, Darrell Griffith, Denny Crum, Luke Hancock playing a modified game of HORSE with athletic director Vince Tyra, rapper Jack Harlow and, finally, judging the three-point contest, NBA standout Donovan Mitchell, who rolled out a Louisville edition of his shoe at the event, and gave away a couple of pair.
For his part, Louisville men’s coach Chris Mack made his entrance with son Brayden, wearing matching custom-made Louisville-themed leather jackets and walking through the smoke to a Kid Rock song.
“I kept getting those questions all around town, what are you wearing this year?” Mack said. “I really hadn’t thought about it, but the more I got asked, I realized I better come up with something. Give our marketing team credit for coming up with the idea for the biker jackets with the old-school dunking Cardinal on the back. . . . It was a great night. It says a lot about the program here at how players want to come back to help. They had such a great experience playing for the Cardinals, and for them to take time out – especially Donovan who starts training camp next week – we’re very appreciative and it doesn’t surprise me one bit.”
Players did nothing to discourage the raucous spirit. Asked what fans could expect from the Cardinals, guard Ryan McMahon, winner of the night’s three-point contest, simply said, “Atlanta,” site of the 2021 Final Four. Dwayne Sutton promised a victory over Kentucky.
On the women’s side, Jazmine Jones told fans that the team expects to carry on what last season’s team established with an Elite Eight appearance, despite the challenge of working in six newcomers. Coach Jeff Walz had no flashy entrance, but he may be poised with another flashy team.
“You know I don’t do all that stuff,” he said, when asked about his low-key approach. “But our kids had a great time. We’re excited to get started.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Scenes from the men's and women's basketball Louisville Live event at Fourth Street Live.
And the beat went on. Mitchell said he made it a point to put the event onto his schedule.
“Once I saw this last year, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” he said, “Props to Joey (Wagner) and everybody who put this together. . . . I had free time, so I’m here. I just wanted to show my love. Especially when you have recruits here, I just wanted to be here and be the voice, outside of the coaches. . . . I’m just here to support. Obviously, Louisville has done a lot for me, and I want to give back. To be honest with you, I’m nervous coming out for stuff like this. Playing, I’m fine, but this is different. But I wanted to see the guys, I hosted a lot of them on visits, I played with Ryan and Dwayne. This team can be as good as it wants to be.”
If anything, the night showed that this downtown event, with bars and restaurants packed and fans jammed into the entertainment space, is now a fixture at U of L.
“A year ago, fans didn’t know what to expect, and our players didn’t, but it was such a success that everybody really enjoyed it,” Mack said. “Our players look forward to it, and I know the fans do. I thought it was a really cool venue. I don’t think any city in the country does it like we do.”
As for the team, Mack gave fans one piece of advice, clad in his biker jacket, microphone in hand: “Buckle up. We’re going to have some fun.”
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