Geno Auriemma on Jeff Walz: 'He's still the coach at Louisville. I read that, too'

Justin Sayers
Courier Journal

ALBANY, N.Y. – After Louisville coach Jeff Walz lobbed a wise-crack remark toward Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, the Hall of Famer decided to throw one right back before the teams face off Sunday in the Elite Eight.

A reporter notified Auriemma that Walz had referred to his team as the underdog in his portion of the press conference, despite being the higher seed. Auriemma used the opportunity to touch on the coaching rumors involving Walz and Tennessee.

"And he's still the coach at Louisville. I read that, too," said Auriemma, two days after Walz sarcastically threw Auriemma's name into the running for the job.

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UConn head coach Geno Auriemma smiles as he talks about their upcoming rematch with U of L ahead of their Elite 8 matchup in Albany, N.Y.
Mar. 30, 2019

Auriemma, the 11-time national championship-winning coach, then addressed the actual question, whether there are parallels between the Huskies and Cardinals programs.

"You know, they've pretty much reached the place where most people hope to go," Auriemma said. "They have great crowd support. They have great support from the University. They win. They go to the Final Four. You know, they win championships in their league."

But he couldn't resist taking one more shot against the coach who beat him earlier this season.

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"I think Jeff is a little too old to be crying that they're the underdog, you know," Auriemma said. "We're on a losing streak with them, you know. I mean, if that's what they need or if that's what he needs to get his team to that point, then I'm OK with that. I think it's pretty funny. But I guess you've got to do what you've got to do to get your team ready to go."

Sam Fuerhing's good luck charm

Louisville's first win against UConn at home featured a number of notable fans for senior forward Sam Fuehring. They'll be back in Albany, New York.

Fuehring, who is from Wanaque, New Jersey, about two hours from Times Union Center, will have more than 20 family members and friends in attendance on Sunday. Some of them were there on Friday, wearing T-shirts and holding signs, as Fuehring scored 17 points, including the 1,000th point of her career.

More:Louisville's Sam Fuehring will have familiar faces in the crowd on Friday

"Just having them all in the same place, it feels good," she said. "My family means everything to me. We’ve been through hell and back together, so I think that’s what makes us closer. I love them to death."

Fuerhing acknowledged the possibility of making a Final Four in front of them, but that, "no matter what happens, my family will always be proud of me."

Kylee Shook adds physicality

In their first NCAA Tournament game, the Cardinals made a surprise addition to their starting lineup, inserting junior forward Kylee Shook for the first time this year. They've stuck with her since.

Forward Jazmine Jones said Shook has brought "another element" to Louisville.

"She’s great offensively and defensively. She’s like a stretch-four," Jones said. "She can knock down a 3, she can bang in the post. Kylee is doing a great job."

More:After clinching a spot in the Elite Eight, Louisville can finally talk about UConn

The move to add Shook, the team's tallest player, has mostly paid dividends in the Cardinals' rebounding efforts. Shook has grabbed 21 rebounds in those three games. Louisville, which has been inconsistent on the glass this year, has combined to out-rebound its three opponents, 115-103.

Shook said she's emphasized being physical, but downplayed her contributions, saying she's still splitting time with forward Bianca Dunham, who she replaced. Dunham had 13 rebounds off the bench in the three games, on par with her per-game average of 4.8.

Justin Sayers: 502-582-4252;; Twitter: @_JustinSayers. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: