Great news from Louisville coach Jeff Walz this afternoon as we all prepare for Sunday’s showdown between No. 1 UConn and No. 4 Louisville at Gampel Pavilion. The game will be for first place in The American between the only two teams without a conference loss so far.
Although Louisville is leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference after the season, Walz says that there have already been substantive talks about a multiple-year deal to play again, likely beginning in 2015-16. Why is this important? Duh? Without Notre Dame, Rutgers and Louisville around next year, UConn is going to need a strong non-conference schedule to keep its attention span in tact – perhaps forever.
The Notre Dame series begins again next year in South Bend. And now Louisville, who has twice lost to UConn in national championship games in the last five years, will likely be back, too.
“I enjoying competing against [Geno Auriemma],” Walz said Thursday. “We have to figure out a way somehow to beat him. So until we do, it’s not a rivalry in my mind. It’s just a game. He is 10-0 against my teams. It’s not a rivalry until we beat him.
“But I have had people calling me, wondering if we’re going to play UConn again after we leave for the ACC next season. Are we going to do it? Yes. We are going to do it. I know it’s hard to prepare for them because there is so much to prepare for. But you know his kids are always going to play hard.
“We’re working on something, although it won’t be next year. I have to be concerned right now about not killing myself [competitively] after going to the ACC, especially after graduating as many kids as we are [after this season]. I’m likely in a spot where I’ll start two or three freshman next season. But I’m thinking, unless we can figure something out for next year, we will start a two- or four-year home and home in 2015-16. There have already been discussions about it.”
Also, Walz said Louisville will be without both guard Bria Smith and forward Shawnta Dyer on Sunday. Smith has a knee injury; Dyer a stress fracture.
“I wish Bria was healthy,” Walz said. “Her athleticism helps us so much on both ends. But we’re excited about [the game]. It’s going to be fun. Is the end-all, end-all? No. But it’s going to be a great environment to play; two teams excited to play and one of them is going to emerge a game up in first place in the league.”