Fans, coaches, and athletes of every school, team, franchise, and sport have those “If Only” battles through the years, the ones that never came about.
This here’s-what-never-happened series of indeterminate duration features what might have been but never was for various Louisville Cardinal contingents through the decades.
If you have any suggestions, put them in the Comments section below.
First up, the national championship tilt, Jeff Walz’s women’s basketball squad never played against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2018.
March 30, 2018. Columbus, Ohio.
The U of L Cards suffered a serious setback, down 2, with 2:42 to play in the national semi-final against Mississippi State.
Eye of the Tiger pivot Sam Fuerhing didn’t like a call. She slapped the floor in disgust and frustration. The T was her 5th. DQ.
The Bulldogs converted both charity tosses, for a four point advantage.
The Cardinals fought back. Arica Carter tallied to put Louisville up one. Then, with only eleven ticks left on the clock, Myisha Hines-Allen netted a reverse lay up for a three point lead.
But, four seconds later, State’s Roshunda Johnson went Et Tu, her threeball pulling the Bulldogs even.
U of L had no timeouts to advance the ball. Hines-Allen raced the rock down the court, a half step ahead of the pack. Then, undercut and sideswiped, she missed a game winning left handed layup.
Discombobulated, the Cards faltered in OT, hitting but one of ten FG attempts. They lost 63-73.
The Bulldogs, not the Cards, met Notre Dame for the national crown two days later.
Oh my, what might have been.
* * * * *
That Louisville gang was a beast, one of the best ensembles of Cardinal hoopsters ever, regardless of gender.
They steamrolled through the season, with only two Ls, Florida State by a digit in late January, and at UConn several weeks later by 9.
In the Dance, they clobbered their first four foes — Boise State, Marquette, Stanford and Oregon State — by an average margin of 27.5.
They had already conquered Notre Dame twice.
During a 33 point evisceration of ND at Freedom Hall, in which Asia Durr put on a shooting clinic, I opined the following to several fellow scribes along press row at the half.
“Best shooter ever to wear the red and black.” I don’t believe I even inferred a question mark at the end of that pontification.
U of L bested their rivals again in the ACC tourney final.
Might they have pulled it off a third time for the crown?
That Irish squad was down to 7 players on scholly, because of an epidemic of ACL injuries, including one to preseason A-A Brianna Turner. But Muffet McGraw’s team had gotten its act together.
Their Final Four conquests are best remembered for the absolute absurd improbability of Arike Ogunbonwale hitting an off balance three point OT buzzer beater to upend UConn in the semi. Then eerily doing it again against Mississippi State in the Final.
Would U of L have completed the triple against Notre Dame for the first national title? Or were the Irish just the proverbial team of destiny?
Sigh. We just don’t know.
—c d kaplan