Walz fires away

Louisville coach Jeff Walz caught one of his team's errant passes and tried to make a jumper of his own in the Cardinals' win over Virginia on Jan. 17, 2019.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The ball came to Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s game against Virginia in the KFC Yum! Center, bounced right into his hands where he was standing on the sidelines. He couldn’t resist.

In a single motion, he raised the ball up, and shot it. The shot bounced a bit long, and fell to the floor, no doubt causing his players no small amount of relief.

“It was really disappointing, to be honest with you,” Walz said. “That’s my spot. That’s where I spent most of my time in my college days, right there on the bench. . . . It was bad. It’s a shot you’ve got to make.”

It was just about all the No. 4-ranked Cardinals missed on Wednesday, rolling to a 91-43 victory over the visiting Cavaliers, the largest margin of victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in school history.

On Jeff Walz Bobblehead Night at the KFC Yum! Center, Walz wore the same black shirt and khaki pants displayed in his bobblehead, and he was nodding his head for much of the night.

His team was efficient, scoring on 56.5 percent of its possessions, 1.319 points per possession. The Cards shot 57 percent in the game, 65 percent in the second half.

After a bit of a slow first quarter, the Cardinals outscored UVA 31-9 in the second, then 25-10 in the third. They shot 23-35 in those two frames, and pushed their lead to 50 before a late Virginia score.

“In the second quarter, I thought we really passed the ball well and got it moving, and started making some of the shots that we usually make that we missed in the first quarter,” Walz said. “I was just really pleased with how well everyone was passing the ball.”

Asia Durr scored 20 points in 23 minutes. Dana Evans had 14 points in 17 minutes, going 6-of-6 from the field, with a couple of step-back three-pointers. Kylee Shook and Bionca Dunham had 12 points each, and the Cards took a pregame point of emphasis to heart, outrebounding UVA 42-27 and winning second-chance points 21-4.

“I thought our rebounding and boxing out were fantastic,” Walz said. “We had 21 second-chance points. We probably haven’t had 21 second-chance points in our last four games combined.”

One player Walz singled out for praise, again, was sophomore Mykasa Robinson. Her stat line won’t impress you – four points and two rebounds in 20 minutes. But Robinson had the biggest plus-minus number in the game, plus 36.

“She’s doing great. I’m really happy for her,” Walz said. “. . . It’s what she does away from the ball. She gets to the right spot. She puts a body on somebody to get a rebound. . . . It’s what I talk to our team about. Who is going to be the one to get on the floor to go after every loose ball. And that’s been Mykasa.”

About the only downside for Walz was the turnovers. The Cards turned it over 18 times – or more than a quarter of their possessions. Of course, that also resulted in a scoring opportunity for Walz, which he still was bummed about after the game.

“They’ve made so many good passes to me, unfortunately,” Walz said. “I don’t know if I’ll get another one. But at the rate we’re going, maybe I’ll get three or four more this season. . . . We got sloppy with the basketball, really careless, trying to do some things we can’t do, things we shouldn’t do. . . . But we’re going to get there.”

He wasn't joking about him being his spot. When his coach at Northern Kentucky University used to tell the team to practice "game shots," Walz said he would go to the bench and start shooting. When his coach asked him why, Walz would answer, "Because that's where I am in the games."

The coach's response, according to Walz?

"Yeah, go ahead and shoot from the bench."

The Cards return to action on Saturday when they travel to Wake Forest.

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Sports Reporter