The Biggest Game in Town

Last night, more people got their entertainment from a women’s college basketball game than from anything else going on in Louisville.

Hooping it Up for the Lady Cards. Photo: U of L

15,601. It was only the third largest crowd of the season for the Lady Cards, but remarkable because it wasn’t the opposition that attracted the crowd — Not Tennessee, not Kentucky, not Connecticut — but merely one of the top-tier squads in the Big East, Rutgers. The Knights, 5-1 in the league, kept it close until midway through the 2nd half, when U of L pulled away with a 17-0 run, winning 56-45. The Cards are now 5-3 in the Big East, but rank 2nd in the nation in attendance.

15,601. The big attraction seemed to be a white-out, as most of the fans in the lower bowl went along, wearing white, but not looking nearly as ridiculous at Cards’ coach Jeff Walz, who sashayed up and down the sideline in a sweater-vest number with white pants highlighted by a brownish shirts and shoes. He should have called Pitino and borrowed that Saturday Night Fever ensemble The Rick pulls out for these occasions.

15,601.  One theory is that the women’s games are simply good family entertainment, and a chance for regular folks to get in the arena for $7 without getting raped by the greedy U of L athletic department for a seat license or donation.  Everything else — the jazzy scoreboard show, the 48 cheerleaders, the pep band, the $6 beers — is the same as when the men play here.  Just a little less intense. And maybe not so much drinking.

15,601. Maybe it’s just Shoni Schimmel. The freshman, who grew up on an Indian reservation, is the real deal. She had an off shooting night against Rutgers, but she was the only thing my son Luke and I were interested in watching on the floor. Schimmel controlled the floor, and compensated for subpar shooting with 6 assists, 5 rebounds and some eye-popping passes. Best sign in the crowd: “U Just Got Schimmeled.”

15,601. The best seats in the house belong to Jerry and Madeline Abramson,whose idea of a big Saturday night on the town is taking in some Lady Cards action at the Yum Center. Floor seats, right across from the Cards’ bench. And cheering until the very end.

It may not be any one thing, but on one Saturday night in the city, a women’s college basketball contest was the city’s biggest attraction.