Louisville coach Jeff Walz says life is too short, tells players to enjoy every minute of win over Baylor

The Cardinals enjoyed reliving the moment through social media and television — but they will be ready for the Tennessee Volunteers on Tuesday night.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 1, 2013

photo - Louisville coach Jeff Walz speaks during media day for the NCAA Women's Basketball regional final game at the Chesapeake Arena on Monday, April 1, 2013, in Oklahoma City, Okla.  Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Louisville coach Jeff Walz speaks during media day for the NCAA Women's Basketball regional final game at the Chesapeake Arena on Monday, April 1, 2013, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Even Thunder players Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson and Hasheem Thabeet wanted to be a part. They were at the arena for the games Sunday, and afterward, they made a surprise visit to the Louisville locker room.

“It was a great game, great to see the ladies compete like that,” Thabeet said. “It was interesting to see the emotion on both sides and how delicate the balance is between winning and losing.”

The Louisville players had a more simplistic reaction to the locker room scene.

“Meeting Kevin Durant,” Hammond said, her eyes growing wide, “was a big special moment for us.”

Walz wanted his gals to remember all of the special moments that came after beating Baylor. He went against conventional coaching practice and told them instead to enjoy the spoils of their victory.

Why?

The short answer — “Life’s too short.”

The longer answer has to do with what Walz and his players saw Sunday before their game. They were watching the Louisville men’s game when guard Kevin Ware suffered a broken leg.

In a gruesome instant, his life was changed.

“I mean, why tell the kids not to enjoy it?” Walz said. “Now, we’re going to be focused to come out here and play (Tuesday) night, but again, we just had the biggest upset in women’s college basketball ever. Why wouldn’t I want my kids to enjoy that?”

Hard to argue with that.

Sunday was the greatest day of basketball in Louisville history. With the women’s monumental upset and the men’s Final Four berth, it’s likely the greatest hoops day for any school ever. Since the women’s tournament has long awarded its Final Four seeds on Mondays and Tuesdays, it’s rare for a school to have two colossal victories on the same day. Even when schools send both teams to the Final Four, they punch their tickets on different days.

When Oklahoma had both teams in the Final Four in 2002, for example, the men advanced on a Saturday, the women on a Monday.

Never has a school had a day like Louisville did Sunday.

The Cardinals embraced the ride.

As well they should.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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