As Coach Jeff Walz did his post-game radio show junior Mariya Moore skipped around the court taking a victory lap for her part in Louisville's overtime win over rival Kentucky. She stopped in front of Coach, took off his headset, and announced to the arena, "I just want y'all to know, I never played in the friendship bracket in high school."
This was, of course, in reference to the now infamous rant from her coach a few nights ago where he bemoaned the current state of this generation brought up on participation trophies and friendship brackets.** The logical fallacies of this argument aside, one has to believe the main motivation behind the rant was to light a fire under a few of his players. Myisha Hines-Allen had played decently this year but nowhere up to the caliber that earned her preseason All-ACC honors. Today that player showed up and she fought for 26 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out in OT.
A couple of years ago I felt part of the reason we lost was Coach Walz's reluctance to substitute. Today again the bench played sparingly and the starters seemed totally gassed in the final minutes. It was ironic then that one of the biggest plays of the day came from freshman Jazmine Jones who replaced Myisha after she fouled out. With the game in the balance she snuck in for a huge offensive rebound on a missed free throw and got fouled. She made one free throw which gave Louisville a four point lead and that kept Kentucky's ensuing three pointer from tying the game. Coach Walz said that she played with "passion and energy" and "that offensive rebound she got---she fought for that."
Now, about free throws. Tonight we went 9 for 20 from the line. After the game Coach Walz said, "I promise you we practice free throws, and we make them in practice. If we make them there's no overtime. We've got to learn to step up and make them in the game."
Briahanna Jackson once again left everything on the floor. She has great defensive instincts and she's just so strong that she can create jump balls and anticipate passes leading to steals. Coach said, "you can never fault her effort."
This one is for you Card Nation! #LouisvilleVsKentucky pic.twitter.com/K5aZvFN7Nc— Sam Purcell (@coachsampurcell) December 4, 2016
Coach Walz also praised Kentucky senior Makayla Epps and said that if you're a fan of the game you should enjoy watching her play. If it's all the same to you, Coach, I'll be happy to see the back of her. She's a warrior. She has also taken several years off of my life.
It was a hard-fought game and the Cardinals showed that on this day they would not fold. They would not quit. It wasn't easy, but it was a win and it felt good. Or as Myisha said when asked how it felt to finally get a win over Kentucky: "Ohhhh bud-dy! That's all I've got to say is oh buddy. Self explanatory right there"
The next game isn't until Sunday the 11th against Western Kentucky at 2pm in the Yum! Center. It will also be shown on ACCN Extra.
**Not to be too editorial but I work with teenagers every day, and I find a lot of kids in this generation to incredibly passionate, polite, service-oriented and driven. Just wanted to get that on the record.