Tag Archives: Louisville


Regardless Of Your Thoughts On Pitino, He Is Missed Right Now

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-4-10-36-pmBy Zach McCrite 

I already miss Rick Pitino. Truly, I do.

This is to say nothing negative towards David Padgett, the interim head coach of the University of Louisville basketball team. He’s a fine man in a precarious spot.

I’m also not implying that Rick Pitino should still be the coach of the Cardinals.

No matter how much he knew or didn’t know about multiple (let that sink in: multiple), program- and university-staining scandals, the way he accepted basically zero responsibility for them other than “making two bad hires,” as he once admitted, was icky enough, if you ask me.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not missing him.

Here we are in December – a month where Louisville will take on both Indiana and Kentucky –and we’re not going to get any of the fun stuff to which we have become accustomed.

No longer are we going to get the numerous sideline animations that we were so used to seeing. The yelling at the players from the other side of the court. The seemingly video-game like pointing, pulling and raising of the arms to try to get the kids to do exactly as he pictures in his mind.

I will miss the times he got down on one knee when things seemed relatively comfortable during the game. The classic hands-behind-the-back move when he needed to say something that wasn’t necessarily angelic, let’s say.

Some of his most memorable games as a coach are etched in my memory forever, too.

I will miss how he guided the most unbelievable tournament comeback I can ever recall, when the 4-seed Cards were down 20 to 8-seed West Virginia in the 2005 Elite 8. The Mountaineers went an earth-shattering 18-of-27 from 3-point range and Pitino somehow figured out a way to get his crew to claw all the way back and win that NCAA Regional Final in Albuquerque.

And the press conferences. Oh, the press conferences.

Just at Louisville, he answered longtime WAVE 3 sports anchor Bob Domine’s phone at a press conference and had a conversation with someone on the other end who apparently wanted to meet for a drink.

Or the time when he spoke out about the Karen Sypher extortion case and told the fans that “we need to get onto the important things in life – like the economy.”

The best of Rick Pitino came a little later in that day when he blamed the media for providing coverage of a Sypher interview on a day that the rest of the nation mourned… I guess.

“Everything that’s been printed, everything that’s been reported, everything that’s been breaking in the news on the day Ted Kennedy died is 100 percent a lie, a lie,” Pitino said (italic emphasis added).

That’s so great!

Or when former Notre Dame coach and ESPN analyst Digger Phelps said in 2013 that no No. 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament was going to make the Final Four and Rick Pitino called him out at a press conference saying, “All you have to do is (predict against) Digger, and you got a great chance of winning, because he’s never right. That’s why keeping winning… . He knows nothing.” Awesome. By the way, Rick was right. Louisville went on to win the national championship*.

Even the non-press conferences were awesome. I’m referring, of course, to the times where he would lose to John Calipari and the University of Kentucky and just wouldn’t show up at the podium. A mad Pitino was a great Pitino at the microphone…at least when he showed up.

And then there are the memorable times before he even got to the podium, like when he made some sort of gesture to Wildcats fans as he walked off the Rupp Arena floor and though the tunnel. Perhaps he was just scratching his head. Or perhaps it was a ‘bird’ of some sort.

Speaking of Calipari, Pitino’s collisions with him are legendary. No matter how much the two tried to sugarcoat it to their respective local media, the relationship between the two never seemed to be anything better than adversarial at best.

When the annual UofL vs. UK game came around, the two were always asked about it. They would always downplay it. Calipari seemed to come the closest to coming clean about their connection. “I mean, look, we’re 90 miles away from each other and at competitive, rival schools,” Calipari said before their last meeting against each other one year ago this month. “You know, it’s hard to send each other Christmas cards. It is what is.”

Sadly, we must correct that last sentence now. It was what it was. And it was awesome.

The good news for Pitino in the rivalry? Even though Calipari was 8-2 against Pitino during their rivalry, ol’ Rick P got the last laugh in a 73- 70 win over Cal. He got the last laugh.

But, sadly, that’s not the image many will remember.

In fact, the last image we have of him truly representing the University of Louisville is in a super-show-off-your-muscles-and-nipples type Lamar Jackson jersey on College Gameday back when ESPN thought Cardinal Football was a title contender.

There’s something funny about that, even if you’re a diehard Cards fan – this is the last moment Pitino publicly represented this iniversity in a proud way. It’s OK to chuckle. It’s almost therapeutic. It’s cathartic.

There’s zero doubt that he’s one of the smartest X-and-O basketball coaches of our lifetime. And, no matter who replaces him at UofL permanently, it’s going to be tough to replicate that intelligence.

And the bravado. Definitely the bravado.

I miss Rick PItino. At least on the court and at the podium. And it’s starting to hit me right now.


Kentuckiana’s Fittest

Four Barrel CrossFit hosted 6th annual event

Photos by Jason Applegate

Sept. 30

Four Barrel CrossFit

Four Barrel CrossFit hosted the 6th annual Kentuckiana’s Fittest competition at their New Albany location. The event – known as simply “KF” to the local CrossFit community brought out 180 competitors – and scores of spectators – who competed in five events throughout the day.

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FamFitter: Year in Review

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-3-54-28-pmBy Adam & Kristin Kleinert 

A year’s worth of exploring the path to a fitter family has made for an interesting journey. Words we’d use to describe it include the following: frustrating, enlightening, empowering, entertaining.

Sometimes it was rather fun; sometimes it was a downright chore, though it was never boring. This month, as the calendar year comes to a close, we look back on what we feel has been, at the very least, progress.

We started the year with an ultimate goal to become more intentional concerning our family’s overall health. In this aspect alone, we feel we’ve succeeded. We’ve researched, learned about and tried our hands at ideas ranging from family workout routines to packing healthier school lunches. We’ve shared our endeavors and results in an effort to help other families that may be interested in progressing alongside us. While we aren’t the poster-household for perfect health and wellness, we’ve made changes to our habits and reorganized our methods. We’ve succeeded and we’ve failed, but the overall result is a distinct upgrade in our former standard.

For instance, our pantry is looking exceedingly fitter and so does the fridge. Fresh foods are more abundant and processed items are few and far between. Concepts such as baking our own breads and making homemade snack items took some getting used to but have now become habitual and consume very little of our precious time.

Our “ballgame snack sack” (a.k.a. Operation Curb the Concession Stand Dependency) stays near at hand in the kitchen and is quickly filled with reasonable snack items before rushing out the door.

The hustle and bustle of our daily life helps keep us active and, while we still need to regularize a solid exercise routine, we’ve armed ourselves with tools to create a regimen that works for the varying needs of our family members. We’re a far cry from perfection, but we’re getting better.

Above all, the most positive aspect of our FamFitter adventure is definitely this: Our children are learning that their health and fitness are important to us. Making an effort, implementing new ideas and fostering key changes to any family lifestyle is a demonstrative representation of the value a parent places on a particular concept.

We want our children to prioritize wellness. We must continue to provide them with skills and examples they’ll need in their own quests. While we aspire to create healthy habits that last, we can’t let ourselves become complacent or tired. We know we have much room for improvement. 2018’s Kleinert tribe will have to measure itself against 2017’s, and that’s a challenge to which we must rise.


Here’re a few things I’ve learned this year:

Kroger Click List is my best friend. The convenience alone is a luxury with which I am exceedingly happy each and every time I partake. But I’ve also learned it’s an efficient avenue, not only for saving time and money, but also for planning and choosing healthier food options than I do when I stroll through the actual store.

If grocery pickup service is my true BFF, my crockpot is surely a close second. Our schedule most days allows for very little prep and cooking time. Knowing a protein is stewing away all day on the countertop and will be available for throwing together a quick dinner later decreases my stress level significantly. (Side Note: I’m thinking of investing in an Insta-cooker. This will allow for the days when I forget or am too rushed in the morning to actually put something in the crockpot to slow cook.)

School sports are a GREAT way to keep kids active. Throughout this journey, I haven’t had to worry at all about the older two kids getting enough physical activity into their days. Daily P.E. classes, school sports teams, after school practices and weekend clinics are keeping our tribe moving. As colder weather sets in, I will need to make a conscious effort with the two youngest, as they won’t be playing outside quite as willingly and there aren’t as many school sports opportunities for their age groups.

I am terrible at taking care of myself. I’ve obviously fallen into the Mom-trap about which my friends are always lamenting. I focus my efforts on making sure my family is well cared for and I don’t take the time to acknowledge my own physical well-being. Throughout the past year, I’ve tried each new idea we’ve explored, but my personal follow-through has been meager at best. While I feel like we’ve certainly made progress as a family, I must focus more on my own health in the coming year. In a nutshell, my husband and children are meeting many of the FamFitter challenges like rockstars, and I’m more of a groupie. I’ve got to up my game if I want to join the band.


For the most part, I’ve been pleased with the journey we undertook as a family this year. When it comes to health and fitness, I’ve wanted to undergo something transformative because, after having kids and getting caught up in their busy lives, I felt like we’d lost focus concerning the importance of our overall wellness. I knew FamFitter could be a great catalyst to explore the changes for which I’d been looking.

Excitement of a new endeavor is always a strong motivator for me, and I started off the year embracing every new concept we decided to take on. I developed a strong workout routine and stayed with it. I dropped all processed food from my diet and stuck resolutely to healthy eating habits. Within a couple of months, my blood pressure had dropped so drastically that I eliminated the medication I’d been taking. By the time school was out and the kids were home for the summer, I was excited to include them in my daily activity goals because my energy level was soaring.

I admit that my motivation has dwindled recently. The kids have gone back to school, the weather is getting colder, and I find that I am less regular in my exercise regimen. In addition, I’ve recently allowed myself more and more indulgences foodwise. I still feel good, but I can tell a difference and I know I’ve got to find the spirit to get back on track.

One thing I’ve learned ¬ and my wife will say I am still a work in progress ¬ is that a guilt trip is unproductive. Even an unintentional one. Not everything is going to work for everybody and, though we’re a family, we’re comprised of individuals who have very different personalities, preferences and goals. I place guilt on myself for my own shortcomings, and I’m not sure that’s the best method for turning a situation around. I know (again, my wife will attest) it’s certainly not the method I should use when attempting to encourage others. My goal in the New Year is to renew my own drive toward healthy living and to positively lead my family in finding motivation along the way. screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-3-53-59-pm

Don’t forget to visit www. ExtolSports.com to check out the FamFitter newsletter. This e-post section is your quick link to great recipes, family tips and fun exercise ideas you can use to make your own family fitter. 


Six Things I’ve Learned in 2017

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-3-47-18-pmBy Angie Fenton

Numbers matter…and don’t. I weighed nearly 180 pounds when I gave birth to my daughter in January 2016. Saying, “I want to lose weight” was easy, but what did that really mean? To be healthy, for my 5-foot-2 frame, I was told I should weigh between 110 and 140 pounds. But thanks to Ryan Schrink of Schrink Personal Training, who reminded me weight is just a number. But lowering my body fat percentage is key to getting healthy. I also need to be cognizant of my blood pressure and cholesterol levels. My goal now is to get down to 20 percent body fat by February. I couldn’t care less what I weigh.

Plan ahead. Spending time once a week to make meals for me and my husband, and then putting them into single serving portions, saves time and aids in a mission of healthy eating. Also, put your workouts on your calendar and treat them like appointments with one of the most important people you know. If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you truly take care of anyone else?

Don’t let setbacks set you back. I’ve failed a lot this year. I’ve also succeeded. So, I screwed up yesterday. That doesn’t mean I have to wait until next week to start again. When I do mess up on my quest to get fit, I’ve (finally!) begun to start again the next morning and assessing what led to my temporary setback.

Find your motivation. Mine is my daughter, Olive. As an older mama, I want nothing more than to be healthy so I’m around as long as the good Lord allows it. I owe it to Olive and myself to get fit.screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-3-44-12-pm

Set a goal and keep vowing to stick to it. Sure, I’d like to fit into my pre-baby clothes, lose body fat and decrease my rising “bad” cholesterol level, but I also really want to compete in a bodybuilding contest, too. I let life and an injury get in my way in 2017, but not in 2018. I WILL compete, decrease my body fat percentage, get my cholesterol under control AND fit into those old clothes I used to love wearing. I’m going to keep saying that out loud until it sticks.

Just do it. Sorry to borrow from Nike, but this is the simplest of all: You either do something or you don’t. Enough with the excuses. Just do it. And I will.


How the Grinch Failed to steal Christmas!

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-3-32-14-pmBy Jim Biery

Wow, I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by. Reminds me of how fast the Grinch can come down a chimney and try to steal Christmas from all the Who’s in Whoville. Alright, I know that may be the lamest introduction to my column I’ve done all year. Can’t help it. I do get nostalgic when we are this close to the holidays.

Of course, there are all kinds of family traditions that make waiting for Christmas Day so special. For me it would be when my siblings and I would write down our Christmas gift list, address the envelope to the North Pole, and then put it into the fireplace we had in the living room so the ashes could fly up in the air for Santa’s helpers to put the list back together so he could read them.

As a nod to my wish list tradition, I thought I would create a wish list for you featuring the subjects of my column this year.

Let’s start with Lonzo Ball, who plays guard for the Lakers. If you’ve ever seen him take a jump shot, you would know that the perfect gift for him would be The Qube. Charlie Wallace invented this training tool to help basketball players of all ages and skill levels to dramatically improve their jump shot, and boy does Lonzo need it.

For my Purdue buddies, they may have already received their gift. Football coach Jeff Brohm has put a charge back into the fan base that was desperately needed. To see the fans filling the seats again at Ross-Ade Stadium was only recently thought to be a Christmas miracle, not an on-going reality. I guess the only present for them that could be better is if they can enjoy Jeff Brohm for many years to come.

Since we are talking about college football, let’s hope that the fans of all the local teams can continue tailgating together with friends, family and mouth-watering recipes found in the parking lot of your favorite team. Spending time together with friends and family is not just important around the holidays, it should be cherished at every opportunity.

One of the hardest gifts to find during the holiday season would be for every golfer out there to actually be able to improve their game. I’ve seen a dizzying amount of tactics, swing tools and just plain human ingenuity to try ever-so-hard for that “perfect” shot. I hate to break it to my golfing buddies, but finding out that there is no “perfect” shot is as disappointing as finding with friends and family is not just important around the holidays, it should be cherished at every opportunity.

One of the hardest gifts to find during the holiday season would be for every golfer out there to actually be able to improve their game. I’ve seen a dizzying amount of tactics, swing tools and just plain human ingenuity to try ever-so-hard for that “perfect” shot. I hate to break it to my golfing buddies, but finding out that there is no “perfect” shot is as disappointing as finding




Head coach Jeff Walz and his lady Cards are coming off another trip to the sweet 16. It was their seventh straight year making the NCAA tournament and ninth out of the ten years that Jeff Walz has been coaching at Louisville. And it appears that they are poised for what could be a very special year. Another sweet sixteen appearance will not be considered a successful year. This team has title aspirations and they are on a mission.

The lady Cards finished the 2016-17 season with a 29-8 record. From that team, they return their top two scorers, Asia Durr and Myisha Hines-Allen, along with 2 juniors, 4 sophomores and the 4th ranked recruiting class. Gone from last season are starters Mariya Moore (12.0 ppg), Briahanna Jackson (6.1ppg) and Corinne Walton (2.6ppg).

But the most important returning piece to this steaming freight train is their engine, Head Coach Jeff Walz.

There were many rumors circulating around Louisville that if Athletic Director Tom Jurich was let go, many of the coaches he hired would soon leave as well. Walz put that fear to rest at the annual women’s basketball Tip Off Luncheon where he said he would be remiss if he didn’t “give a shout out to Tom” because 11 years ago he “sold me on the University of Louisville – sold me on what this place could become as a women’s basketball program.”

Walz also said he is forever grateful to Jurich for giving him the opportunity and that he wasn’t leaving because “Tom sold me on Louisville – not Tom – on Louisville, because that’s what he cared about.”

Walz went on to say that “Louisville is home to me” and “I plan to retire here or get fired here. It’s one or the other.”

Walz is the winningest coach in Louisville women’s program history with a 263-93 (.739) record. Louisville had never won 30 games in a season in its previous 32 years. Walz coached Louisville to a program-record 34 victories in 2008-09 and then 33 wins in 2013-14.

He has two national runner-up finishes (2009, 2013), three Elite Eight appearances (2009, 2013, 2014), seven trips to the Sweet 16 and nine NCAA Tournament appearances in his 10 years at Louisville. I have been on record saying that I believe Walz will win a national title in the next three years and multiple titles before he retires. Could this be the year?

It doesn’t hurt that Walz has two of the ESPN Top 25 women’s basketball players for 2017-18 season on his team. Junior Asia Durr comes in at No. 7 on the list while senior Myisha Hines-Allen is ranked No. 24.

Durr, who averaged 19.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals last season as a sophomore, was the highest-rated recruit to sign at Louisville in school history. In her sophomore year, she was voted to the all-ACC Tournament first team, selected to the Blue Ribbon Panel and coaches’ all-ACC first team, named to the Naismith Trophy Top 30, which recognizes the national player of the year, and the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25. She also was selected to the midseason list for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s player of the year honor. Durr also became Louisville’s 28th 1,000-point scorer and broke the program’s single-season record with 119 3-pointers.

Entering her junior year, she has been selected as the 2017-18 Atlantic Coast Conference Preseason Player of the Year, as voted on by the league’s coaches. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Durr is one of 20 watch list candidates for the 2018 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, which is an annual award that recognizes the top shooting guard in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball. She was also named to the College Sports Madness Preseason All-American Team. It appears that she is going to have a great year and is already a professional level talent.

Myisha Hines-Allen is entering her senior season as a woman on a mission. She is a physical inside player who will work the perfect inside-outside game with Durr. She will be a major factor in the success of this team as well as being counted on as the team leader.

As a sophomore, Hines-Allen was named ACC Player of the Year, averaging 17.6 points on 54.7 percent shooting and 8.4 rebounds. As a junior, she only averaged 13.9 points as teams began to game plan around her, but that allowed her to learn how to become an even better rebounder. She also had 17 double-doubles, which ranked 12th in the country.

Coach Walz has said that she has often started the season off slowly only to pick it up as the season goes along. If they want to be a great team, she has to bring it from the start.

It appears as though Hines-Allen has received the message as she enters the season in the best shape of her career at Louisville. She also has worked hard on becoming more efficient with her mid-range shot.

While Louisville’s success will rely heavily on its two leaders, it will also need a lot of steady contributions from junior Sam Fuehring and sophomores Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook.

The Cards have four sophomores who saw the court last season, and they will all need to take a step forward to help develop the depth required to make a deep tournament run. They also have three very talented freshmen who are capable of playing major minutes right away. This deep team may not need them to contribute early, but I’m sure Coach Walz will find minutes for them so he can add even more weapons to his arsenal.

Louisville entered the season ranked 9th in the first preseason Associated Press poll. Personally, I believe they are a top 5 team, but it doesn’t matter what I think because they will have a chance to prove it. They face a very tough schedule with six non-conference opponents who reached the NCAA Tournament last year, five of them before conference play begins. The other being nemesis UCONN, whom the Cards will play on Feb. 12 in Connecticut.

If the Cards want to make a run to Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, for the 2018 NCAA Final Four, they must have their stars be stars, they must develop the sophomores, they must cut down the turnovers (14.2 per game last season), improve free throws (69.2 percent last season) and, finally, they must bring it every game.

I feel very confident about the stars and the sophomores. Improved guard play will help cut down on the turnovers, and word on the street is that they have been in the gym working hard on their shooting. If Coach Walz can convince them to bring it every game, then this team is on the verge of something special.




Matthew Mitchell will start from scratch this year, without star power but with a lot of depth

John Calipari loses – and replaces – key players every year on his Kentucky men’s basketball team. But for Matthew Mitchell, coach of the UK women’s team, losing key players can be extremely disruptive.

And that is the case for this year’s squad. Gone by graduation from last year’s nationally ranked team that won 22 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament are Makayla Epps, the dynamic floor leader and shotmaker, and Evelyn Akhator, the imposing inside presence.

Epps scored 17.7 points a game and shot 35.5 percent from three-point range. Akhator added 16 points and nearly 11 rebounds a game. She was the third pick overall in the WNBA draft, by the Dallas Wings. The fiery Epps was drafted in the third round by the Chicago Sky.

So, in other words, much to replace.

The burden falls on two double-figure scorers from last year, juniors Taylor Murray and Maci Morris. Both are sweet-shooting backcourt players, and Murray, in particular, is as fast a player as anyone in the country. She also was a McDonald’s All-American (a reference all of Big Blue Nation is familiar with) while in high school in Odenton, Md.

Of all returning players from last year’s team, Murray carries over the most points per game (12.2), rebounds (4.9 a game), assists (3.9 a game) and steals (2.0 a game). Morris averaged 11.8 a game and led the team with 53 made threes.

Whether either one has the dynamic, aggressive floor leadership abilities that Epps brought to the court will have to remain to be seen. But the early season has produced a 3-0 record and a national ranking. And the two veterans combined for 34 points in the third win of the season, 71-54 over the University of Montana. Murray added 12 rebounds in that game.

Another returner, senior Jessica Hardin (a transfer from Bellarmine), was leading the team in three-point average a year ago before suffering a concussion that ended her junior season. Mitchell regards her value as more than just shooting. She’s an energetic hustler, as well.

As is Jaida Roper, a 5-6 sophomore whose slim statistics last year probably weren’t an indication of how much Mitchell hopes she’ll bring to the court this year.

And then there’s replacing Akhator. In early season play, 6-3 freshman Dorie Harrison has been asserting herself. She had nine rebounds in 20 minutes in the season opener, a 101-point effort over Sacramento State; and another eight rebounds against Montana.

But the team suffered a severe loss, even before the season began, with a knee injury to Ogechi Anyagaligbo, a 6-1 junior who transferred to UK from SUNY Stony Brook, where she was the America East Conference freshman of the year, averaging 10 points and nine rebounds.

Other bright spots in the season-opening win over Sacramento State were Makenzie Cann, a 6-1 senior guard who scored 17 points, making six of nine shots, four of six from three; and Tatyana Wyatt, a 6-2 freshman forward, who scored 13 points in 15 minutes off the bench.

Cann had another double-figure game against Gardner-Webb, scoring 10 points (with four-of-seven shooting) and with seven rebounds in the team’s 72-34 route. Last year, Cann played inside a lot, because of her height. The feeling is, the deeper talent on this year’s squad will enable her to roam the floor, where her height will make her a tough matchup for most teams.

And Roper, making the most of her off-the-bench opportunities, came in against Sacramento State and threw up six shots in 21 minutes, scoring nine points. She scored another 10 against Gardner- Webb, and 14 against Montana.

But the season’s early non-conference games in November are just that. Early games in November. Coach Mitchell will remind you it’s a long season, especially in the SEC, arguably the strongest women’s basketball league in the country. South Carolina is the reigning national champion, last year ending the Connecticut Huskies’ four-year reign. The Gamecocks beat another SEC school, Mississippi State (who knocked off the Huskies in the semifinals), in the national championship game.

Last year, Texas A&M, LSU, Missouri, Auburn and Tennessee also made the tournament (as well, of course, as Kentucky and the two championship finalists). And Tennessee, when coached by the late, legendary Pat Summitt, was probably the country’s most elite program, with eight national championships and five other losses in the championship game. Summitt’s gone, but Tennessee still brings the weird-colored magic.

But Kentucky is not looking in from the outside. Mitchell can do much more than dance like Elvis. His Kentucky teams have won 71 percent of their games. He has led them to eight straight NCAA tournament appearances, developing the games of such UK superstars as Victoria Dunlap and A’dia Mathies. His teams have reached three Elite Eights. He’d probably laugh at the notion, though, that this might be his toughest rebuilding year. He’d probably say that every year is tough and challenging.

Calipari’s teams are always loaded with promising freshmen. Mitchell is not without the same on his team this year. Keke McKinney, a 6-1 frosh from Knoxville, Tenn., is learning a new role. She played the 1 or 2 in high school, but Mitchell wants her out on the court, probably in the 3 position. Even as a freshman, though, on a team dominated by upperclassmen, she has shown the vocal, aggressive personality that made Epps such a compelling presence during her UK tour.

Ten players played double-figure minutes against Sacramento State, eight more against Gardner-Webb, and seven against Montana. That’s a preview of the depth Mitchell expects to get from his team this year. Of course, minutes on the floor tend to condense as players’ strengths and weaknesses emerge and the level of competition gets tougher. Kentucky basketball fans have become used to seeing every year how Calipari goes from 10 or 11 players early to a nucleus of seven or eight in the cauldron of the real season. But Mitchell has indicated just the opposite tendency, especially with this team.

Without a breakthrough, dominant player – like Dunlap, Mathies or Epps – he’s counting on the strength of this team being its depth. The ability to bring in fresh legs without losing competitiveness. It’s a factor that always plays well against less-deep teams, who begin gasping for breath and tugging on their shorts, especially in up-tempo games. It’s what he expects to see this year.

But is that how it will play out? Coaches who preach depth and balance are always hoping that somebody steps up and claims superstar status, providing the bulk of minutes, points and leadership to take their teams deep into the NCAA tournament.

Does Mitchell have that superstar? Might it be Murray, or Morris, or maybe Wyatt, or Cann, or Harrison? The beginning of every season is always rife with unknown possibilities. The fun of the season is seeing how all that plays out.

Even more fun than one of Mitchell’s stank legs or hammer-time dances, baggy Hammer pants and all.


2017: The Year of the Champions


A little before midnight on Nov. 13, Louisville City captain Paolo del Piccolo and the rest of the 20-strong squad hoisted their third trophy of the season: the United Soccer League (USL) Cup.

Rewind back a long nine months to the day the club began their preseason regiment of strength training and conditioning at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. There, LouCity spent two weeks at the world-class 500-plus acre athletic facility, each day punctuated by two-a-day conditioning workouts, training, and injury prevention programs, an investment that held the squad in good stead throughout the campaign. It was here that team leader del Piccolo first noticed the squad had the potential to be contenders. On the team’s mindset in preseason training, he offered, “We were looking around and thinking ‘oh my goodness, we’ve got a team here.’ ” It’s a sentiment that most other players have echoed, not only in the immediate moments after the championship, but all season.

After falling short their first two seasons, the 2017 iteration of LouCity marched all the way to the top of the Eastern Conference, finishing the regular season 8 points above the second placed Charleston Battery, a team with whom they shared a couple of exciting draws and bested once in three regular season matchups. Everyone knew that it was important for this team to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs, not only for a competitive advantage, but to build support for the team moving forward, as Coach O’Connor noted in the press conference leading up to the USL Cup Final. “It’s very important to be able to host the game. We’ve come pretty close the last couple of years and were able to get there this year… . When you look at the growth of Louisville City and you look at our attendance figures… it shows the passion the supporters have for Louisville City.”

Coming into the 2017 season, the team revamped the roster. Having lost keys like Kadeem Dacres and Aodhan Quinn to upriver rivals FC Cincinnati, the team signed strong players with USL experience in Brian Ownby, George Davis IV, Oscar Jiminez and Devon ‘Speedy’ Williams – all of whom have made an impact on the squad and in games. Coach O’Connor found an electrifying player in Louisville native and Indiana University product Richard Ballard, someone who has proven himself as an invaluable late-game substitute throughout the season.

Then there was Luke Spencer.

While there was much made, mainly on social media, of the swoop from FC Cincinnati to come in and snatch up Dacres and Quinn, LouCity quietly unearthed a gem in Luke Spencer. Having played his college ball at Xavier, Luke was drafted by the New England Revolution before he injured his knee prior to signing on with the MLS side. He returned to Cincy where he played in the amateur Premier Development League and coached at his alma mater. He signed on with FC Cincinatti ahead of the 2016 season, playing just 64 minutes and registering four shots in the entire season.

Fast forward to the end of this season, Spencer led the champions in goals scored, registered 19 league starts, five assists and was named USL Player of the Week after he tallied a goal and a pair of assists in the 5-0 thrashing of his former team. While Quinn and Dacres featured in more matches than Spencer, they share two goals and no assists between them.

As the team announce they’re returning an astounding 16 players from the championship squad, it seems as if this team has as much potential as ever. Among the departing are three-year starters Sean Reynolds, Tarek Morad, and Guy Abend, with Morad likely to move on and Abend possibly signing a new contract with the team for the 2018 campaign. For next season, O’Conner is likely to replace Morad and Reynolds – both defenders – with a strong, yet agile player. Returning players Sean Totsch and USL Team of the Year member Paco Craig both possess these characteristics, which lend themselves to a three-defender back line, something Coach experimented with and adopted during the season, thanks to a staunch pair of goalkeepers in Ranjitsingh and Dobrowolski. That transformation freed up wingbacks Oscar Jiminez and Kyle Smith to use their pace to get up and down the sides of the field, to great effect, netting nine assists between them.

With a change in ownership, club leadership and front office expansion, and a stadium change soon to come, one thing has remained the same – a stalwart manager in James O’Connor. He is extolled by players, supporters and owners alike. The pragmatic, stoic and determined Irishman has made Louisville home for his wife and children and earlier this season, much to the delight of the Purple faithful, signed a contract extension with his coaching staff Daniel Byrd and Thabane Sutu through 2020.

The team this year has looked a step better. In previous years, they could become frustrating to watch as they let wins slip to draws and draws slip to losses. Longtime fans will remember lackluster results like in 2016 when they drew 0-0 Bethlehem Steel, 2-2 against a Wilmington team that folded later on that year and a heart-wrenching loss to Orlando City B that many fans will still get upset about.

This year, the squad has minimized falling flat, even against a stronger Eastern Conference. The team learned from that frustrating draw at home to Toronto FC II, a lackluster performance at Tampa Bay, who’s wage bill dwarves LouCity’s. A fluke of a game was had in Charlotte on their second meeting of the season, when an Enzo Martinez hat trick sunk the Purples for their fourth of only six league losses. They rescued a 4-4 draw at Charleston, where they twice found themselves down by two goals. They also defeated the New York Red Bull II on all three occasions they met, including the Eastern Conference Final rematch from last year. Let’s also remember the soaring triumphs, the 4-0 win at Bethlehem Steel, the 5-0 trump of Harrisburg City, the 4-1 smashing of Saint Louis.

And the five-goal extermination of Cincinnati.

More remarkable than the team’s propensity to put up crooked numbers, was their ability to win narrowly. On 11 occasions this year, Louisville City won by a margin of one goal. Of course, that includes the most famous win of them all, the USL Cup Final.

It was an electric evening. Western Champions and 4th seeded Swope Park Rangers were in town, hungry after being on the receiving end of a 5-1 hiding at the hands of New York in the previous seasons final. A TV deal meant that the game started at 9 p.m., but that did nothing to dampen the spirits of the 14,456 on hand.
It was a tense game. Louisville City played remarkably sloppy in midfield; perhaps the occasion was getting to them. The first half saw a goal for each team ruled offside, but nobody really had the definitive edge.

A couple of untimely injuries meant Swope was forced to make a few substitutions before they wanted to. They grew shakier in defense as the second half wore on, but LouCity grew stronger, bolder. In the 88th minute, off of a Kyle Smith throw in, Speedy Williams lofted a cross into Cameron Lancaster from deep in the midfield.

If you ask any of the players what happened next, they’ll tell you it was a blur.

But it was a Louisville City goal.

The rest is Louisville sporting history.


Just Start


Story & Photos by JD Dotson 

It is hard to believe that I spent most of my adult life as a heavy smoker. I smoked a pack and a half to two a day throughout my late twenties and thirties, trying and failing to quit many times. Applying patches to the back of my arm (too itchy), nicotine gum (they didn’t last), taking medication (made me sick), even hypnotism (just fell asleep) all failed to make me a nonsmoker.

I remember standing on the street with a friend watching the runners for the Ketucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and Marathon pass and saying, “I would like to run a marathon someday.” My statement was met with laughter. “You will never be able to run 26 miles,” said my friend.

At that moment, something clicked in me. Being told I would never be able to do something lit a fire. It was then I realized all the tricks and remedies hadn’t failed me: I had failed myself by making constant excuses. I decided then and there to quit and run.

I decided on a date to quit and I was determined. I couldn’t and wouldn’t fail again. The date I chose was the last day smoking was legal inside bars in Louisville, June 30, 2007.

I started my running journey with the goal of finishing a marathon at some point just as soon as I quit smoking. “Running” might be a bit of a stretch. I was hacking a bit, lungs aching and my pace was just above a brisk walk. But I was out there. Every day. For a year and half, I ran 5Ks and 10Ks and a half marathon all the while thinking “someday I will run a marathon.”

My hacking and aching decreased while my speed increased. A buddy of mine mentioned he was applying to the New York Marathon. Out-of-state runners can apply and potentially be picked lottery-style. The odds were slim, but I filled out the application anyway. Not too long after, I received a notice that I was entered to run in the 2010 New York City Marathon! I won the lottery! I really didn’t think it was actually going to happen, so I had made no plans, but I knew well in advance so I had plenty of time to prepare.

Preparing for a race is different for different people. I had been running for a couple of years, yet never considered myself a runner. I thought of myself as a smoker who runs so he doesn’t start smoking. I also considered myself a guy who ran so I could reward myself with extra dessert. I knew that I would have to change the perception of myself if I was going to get through this race. So, I enlisted help through the downtown Louisville YMCA’s training program, led by Lesley Kinney and Andrea Thomas.

The group met twice during the week for group runs, and early Saturday for the long run. We were given a schedule that broke the mileage down by day and information on nutrition and stretching. Our group runs would take us all over the city, the parks, across bridges and back. Some runs consisted of nothing but hill repeats, always different and always new.

I know that I needed, in the beginning at least, a group to commiserate with and support. It helps having running coaches that challenge and support all types of runners. The group consisted of seasoned runners, people like me with some running experience, absolute beginners, people coming back from injury, and even walkers. We began our miles with Lesley and Andrea’s guidance and encouragement and there they were at the end offering support and cheering us on. I needed that and I know I was not alone.

In November 2010, on a cold but sunny day, I completed my first marathon in New York City. It was an emotional experience, especially when I could see the end of the race, thinking of my recently passed father, getting a call from Mom as I stepped across the finish line, seeing my husband’s face and finally feeling like a runner.

I’m not a competitive person. I know I am not the fastest runner. But, I am faster than the person who isn’t doing it because they didn’t believe they could. I am faster than I was as a 2-year-old smoker. If I could offer the best advice to someone preparing for any type of race it would be to just start. Just start.

It helped me to sign up for races way in advance, and tell people I was going to do them. I never wanted to waste money or have to tell people that I bailed.

Join a group. There are running groups all over Louisville and Southern Indiana. Kentucky Derby Festival offers a training program for the races and it’s free.There are running groups for all levels and ages; find the right one for you. Being accountable to not only myself, but to other people kept me going.

Invest in a good pair of running shoes and let an expert help you pick them out. I go to the running experts at Pacers and Racers in New Albany. They are really good at finding the right fit for me, the right shoe for the way I run. The wrong shoe and fit could really cause problems.

I listen to music when I run and have found a few playlists that get me going, but always be aware of your surroundings. I have been busted once or twice “run dancing.” I don’t recommend it for safety reasons (but sometimes the music moves me).

Map My Run running app is great because I like to see that recorded progress. The app will give you a rundown of your mile splits and map out routes. I can also follow the progress of fellow runners and friends that use the same app.

Running is a perfect sport for me. I either do a lot of thinking and planning when I run, or I sometimes just get lost in it. Other than good shoes, I don’t really need a lot of equipment to run, and I don’t have to wait on other people. Running buddies are great and I definitely have some that make me a better runner, but I can be alone just as easily.

I view running similarly to the way I view a cross country road trip. The destination is important. I want to get to the destination for sure, but I am going to enjoy the trip. I have a tendency to stop both a run and a road trip to pull over and take a good picture. Enjoy the trip, mix up your route, run everywhere and soak in all the scenery. We live in a beautiful part of the country. Get out and explore!

Finally, the biggest bit of wisdom I can pass along to anyone getting out there is to be good to yourself when you’re running. Drink water, recognize aches and pains and care for them, realize that you may not be the fastest, but you’re there – you are a runner!

Follow JD Dotson at @runstheuniverse on Instagram.


screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-09-17-pm screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-09-34-pmNORTON SPORTS HEALTH TRAINING PROGRAM KICK-OFF

The official Kentucky Derby Festival training program 

6 p.m. Jan. 11

Kentucky Derby Museum

This FREE Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon training program features 14 weeks of organized group runs, training tips and preparation. Trainees have the opportunity to talk with professionals about nutrition, training tips, injury prevention and education.


Pacers and Racers in New Albany has a great race calendar – and more – on their website.

Go to pacersandracers.com.


Ready, Set, Run!


So, You Want To Be A Runner


By Remy Sisk | Photos by Danny Alexander

Dr. Ryan Modlinski first started running in medical school as it was one of the only forms of exercise that easily fit with his busy schedule. He quickly began to relish the mental benefits of running – being able to let stress from school go and clearing his mind of all the things he had to do. But he also, of course, saw the physical benefits of running and exercising regularly. On days when he ran, he had more energy, was less tired, slept better and was just an all-around happier person.

Today, Modlinski is a nonsurgical orthopaedic physician with Norton Orthopaedic Specialists as well as the medical co-director of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon and helps patients achieve their fitness goals every day. Modlinski also believes that everyone, even people who consider themselves couch potatoes, has more potential than they realize to get up and get moving. All you have to do is take that first step.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-1-42-23-pmIf exercise isn’t currently part of your schedule, Modlinski encourages changing that as we head into the new year. And for those who are setting fitness goals and making resolutions, the number one priority must always be to be healthy.

“The most important thing about this is getting healthy because exercise can play a wide variety of roles as far as treating a lot of different chronic diseases. It’s not just being more fit or running a specific time,” he said. “Chronic exercise has been known to reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol and improve joint pain. There are so many medical benefits that I stress to patients… . I say, ‘Look, at the end of the day we’re doing this to be healthy, and then the secondary goals of time and distance can come later.’”

However, with any lifestyle change, setting specific, concrete goals is only natural. Modlinski said those interested in turning over a new leaf in exercise must first assess themselves to be sure they are setting goals that are realistic. To do so, you need to figure out where you are at the start: What are you able to do without fatigue, shortness of breath or pain? It’s a subjective situation to be sure, but fitness devices such as Fitbits and Garmins can help you figure out when you may be pushing yourself too hard, as Modlinski says in training, you should challenge yourself at a level that’s just beyond where you are now.

When the average person hears about a runner in the news or online, it’s usually due to some sort of extraordinary triumph. If you’re just starting out, comparing yourself to a well-seasoned athlete is not an advisable way to approach your journey, Modlinski cautioned. “Some people have this idea that they get from a family member or see in a magazine that, ‘Gosh, this lady ran a full marathon in four months – I can do that!’ And that’s great for that person and you can do a full marathon, too, but let’s have a more realistic timeframe. Considering where you’re starting from, maybe that’s going to take us a year or nine months to accomplish. So, we always want to come up with a realistic compromise on their goals.”

As with most endeavors, the beginning is always the most difficult. But once you’ve decided that becoming a runner is something you want to do, putting in those first three weeks will have unparalleled payoff in the end. “The first three or four weeks are very difficult with any new routine, whether it’s exercise or quitting smoking,” Modlinski said. “A lot of studies have shown that three weeks seems to be a magical time for some strange reason to recondition and reprogram the brain. So, I tell patients, ‘Look, you may not like this for the first three weeks. You may hate life. You may be a bear to your family. But if you can get past those first three weeks, you’ll start to feel a lot better. You may not see a huge weight change or anything, but you’ll feel more energy and you will feel better.’ And once we get there, then it’s not hard to convince that person to stick with it.”

As you set out in your training, Modlinski also advises taking it at a pace that doesn’t rock your current routine too severely. This will help prevent burn out and is also the best method to get your body used to your new regimen. “I stress to patients that you will get stronger and better by pushing the body and allowing it time to adapt,” he said. “Taking a day off between training actually helps you get a little bit better. When you get farther along in your journey, maybe we can go up to four or five days a week. And we talk about not biting off too much as far as a timeframe. So many people set a goal by a certain date or a certain race. If they start in January for the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and they get off their schedule by a week or two, then they start to panic and start to press more, which can lead to more pain and injuries and less success with their goals. So, if it’s your first (race), I’d throw out the deadlines and timeframes.”

With all those factors in mind – focusing on being healthy, setting realistic goals and sticking to a reasonable pace of training – you’re ready to run. Just keep in mind that every individual is different, Modlinski said. What takes someone else three months may take you six, and what takes you four weeks could take someone else eight. Listen to your body and push yourself. As long as you keep your own health in focus, you are positioned for success. And once you achieve your goal, every late-night gym session or early morning run will suddenly seem worth it.

“It’s exhilarating,” Modlinski said of finally crossing the finish line. “No matter what your time is, the concept of starting toward a goal for 10 weeks or three months or six months and setting out from where you start to where you finish and then finishing that race and finishing it healthy and feeling good gives you a great sense of accomplishment and motivation because you can finish it and say, ‘I felt great, I felt amazing, it was such a thrill to do this and accomplish a goal I set out to do – now, what’s next?’”

“A lot of studies have shown that three weeks seems to be a magical time for some strange reason to recondition and reprogram the brain. So, I tell patients, ‘Look, you may not like this for the first three weeks. You may hate life. You may be a bear to your family. But if you can get past those first three weeks, you’ll start to feel a lot better.”

Dr. Ryan Modlinski, nonsurgical orthopaedic physician with Norton Orthopaedic Specialists


FIVE TRAINING TIPS with Stephanie Fish 



If you’ve never done a race at all, maybe your first goal is a 5K and then maybe a 10K and then a half marathon and then a full. A lot of people who have never run a day in their life want to go for the long one right off the bat, and I can tell you it’s very, very hard to do that.


Find a running buddy or running group. It’s really hard to achieve some of these goals by yourself. That helps people stay accountable and also train properly. Having people with you can also keep you motivated.


A training plan will keep you on schedule with where you need to be and make sure you’re not moving too fast or too slow. With a schedule, you can also throw in some days of rest and cross-training, which helps prevent overtraining and/or injuries.


Nutrition is something that people tend to forget. In training for anything, 50 percent of it is physical and 50 percent is nutrition. You can’t go out and try to run five miles if you haven’t eaten anything or you’re not properly hydrated.


The Triple Crown of Running is almost the perfect goal-oriented training program to get you to that half marathon. It starts with a 5K then a 10K then a 10-miler, and any person who ever comes up to me and says they want to do a half marathon, I immediately tell them that they should sign up for the Triple Crown as it gives you great racing experience and helps you build up to the half marathon.

Join Stephanie Jan. 11 at the Kentucky Derby Museum as Norton Sports Health kicks off its training program for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon. The free event will take place at 6 p.m. and will be the inaugural event for the 14-week program wherein participants will be able to talk with professionals about nutrition, training tips, injury prevention and education. For more information, visit derbyfestivalmarathon.com.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-1-52-24-pmROCK OUT WHILE YOU RUN 

with Ben Davis

Sure, Ben Davis is co-host of “The Ben Davis and Kelly K. Show” on 99.7 WDJX (and one of the funniest people we’ve ever met), but did you also know he’s a dedicated runner, too? If he’s not streaming one of Alpha Media’s radio stations (99.7 DJX, B96, G105.1, 102.3 Jack or Magic 101.3) or listening to a true crime podcast (or picking up dog poop) while he runs, Ben has these songs on repeat to keep him motivated.


The beat and the attitude is perfect!


Attitude is key with this one.


I like music that I can keep the pace to.




To keep things random and upbeat.


Yep, the whole album.




I just like this song right now.


Just a fun song.


Just a gritty rock song that will pump anyone up.

*You can find a link to Ben’s playlist on the Extol Sports Facebook page.