One theme seemed to be the women's basketball team. Head Coach Tom Collen, Assistants Zenarae Pieters and Tim Eatman, Senior Captain Angel Bradley and Freshman All-American Jazz Covington all spoke on behalf of their team. One thing was evident about this bunch, they are confident. When asked about her role as the new Senior Captain, Angel Bradley stated that "Its just a new hat to wear…I was the role player last year…its just another hat to wear, (its) just taking my game to another level."
Head Coach Tom Collen had nothing but good things to say in regards to his newest assistant Tim Eatman. "We were fortunate to be able to land him, he's helped build several programs" and "He's an outstanding recruiter." Eatman shared similar words regarding Coach Collen. "He's probably one of the best recruiters in the country…there is no question about that." This was much to the delight of the crowd who cheered feverishly when Covington confidently answered "Oh Yeah!" when asked if the team was ready for the Big East.
Which brings us to the nights second theme. The Big East Conference. Every coach and player in attendance had something to say about Cardinal Athletics' future home. Field Hockey Assistant Christy Utter had this to say. "We're excited about the Big East…Hopefully we can stay at the top". Women's Soccer Assistant Carole Dushka echoed this by stating that "its' going to be a big fight!" However our fearless leader, Tom Jurich, said it best. "This is the greatest thing to happen not only to this community but to the state...we‘re one of the most up and coming schools in sports."
Jurich also made sure to thank the Trager family for their two million dollar donation to the new football field house and the Yum! Brand for their five million dollar donation to basketball's new practice facility.
From there we moved on men's basketball. Assistant coaches Reggie Theus, Vince Taylor, and Wiley Brown represented their squad well. This trio of triumphant champions were closer than brothers. Theus brought tears of laughter and joy to the crowd's eyes when telling stories of his NBA days, and also with his constant ribbing of Wiley Brown. These three expect big things from their basketball boys this season as made evident when Brown stated that "There is no off season for these guys anymore, when you wear Louisville on your back everyone is shooting for you, we dominated in the ‘80's and we're bringing it back…we expect excellence."
Of course everyone was wanting to know about Ellis Myles' status. Taylor stated that Ellis was doing great and that "I think he'll lead the country in rebounding" next year.
Then there was the plethora of people associated with the football program. O-Line coach Mike Summers, Linebackers coach Reggie Johnson, and Secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. were all in attendance, as were Abe Brown, Gavin Smart, Jimmy Riley, Tiger Jones, Dale Goldsby, Robert Haskins, Eric Shelton and Antoine Harris.
"We (are) real excited about the guys we got…We got some big guys out there that are fired up and ready to go." Mike Summers said. While Summers spoke of his line's size Johnson raved about Robert "The Hammer" McCune. "Unbelievable player…runs a 4.3 forty." And for those worried about the defense Whitt provided some soothing words. "We're going to go out and prove (that) we got one of the best secondaries in the country, I believe that and they (the players) believe that."
This group of players exemplify the meaning of the word "team". When questioned about his transition from wide out to corner, Antoine Harris said it all "I wanted to do what's best for my team". Harris' next statement summed up the evening and Cardinal Athletics' mission nicely. "We're going to go out there and make things happen."
The Cardinal Caravan will resume on June 15th when it visits the Shelbyville Country Club. This year's final stop will occur on June 17th at Mike Lenning's in Louisville.