Ranking worst moments of 2015-2016 athletic year

By on June 27, 2016

By Dalton Ray–

As the 2015-2016 athletic season has officially came to a close, it’s time to look back at the year that was. As a whole, the past athletic year wasn’t exactly one to remember. On top of that, the year didn’t come close to the standard the university’s full 22 NCAA affiliated programs has set over the past five years.

Although there were high moments during the year, see our best memories of 2015-2016, only acknowledging the good times is the perfect way to becoming a jaded fan. Recognizing the highs and the lows gives fans more appreciation of their favorite team, sport or university. With all that being said, let’s take a look at top five worst moments of Louisville athletics’ 2015-2016 year.

Honorable mention: Softball can’t make it out of the first weekend of NCAAs

The 2016 season for Sandy Pearsall’s team, on paper, wasn’t supposed to make much noise. Players such as Maryssa Becker, Brittany Sims and Hailey Smith were all known, established players but the remaining had their fair share of questions marks. The returning players Sidney Melton, Morgan Meyer and Jordan McNary all had great outings in the 2016 and added support to Becker, Sims and Smith. Combine that with newcomers Megan Hensley and Lillie Goetz bursting on to the scene, and all of a sudden Louisville softball was ready to compete with anyone.

Softball ended the year with a 34-14 record and finished second in the ACC standings in the regular season after being picked sixth to start the year. After defeating Syracuse in the first round of the ACC tournament, they were knocked out by Notre Dame. The Cardinals were one of the last teams selected to the NCAA tournament and had a rematch against top seed Nebraska. Pearsall and company dropped two games against Nebraska and BYU in the Columbia Regional. Just when the team had momentum late in the year, it was taken away moments later.

5. Lacrosse falls to Northwestern in the first round of NCAA tournament

The final game against Northwestern wasn’t exactly a heartbreaking loss or hard to swallow, it was just the way the lacrosse team ended the year. Kellie Young potentially had the best team she’s ever had at U of L in 2016. The 7-0 start was the best start in school history and the team defeated three straight ranked teams to hit that mark. Heading into April, lacrosse was 12-1 and atop the ACC standings. Seniors Kaylin Morissettee and Cortnee Daley were playing some of the best ball in the conference once again. The true difference maker on the team was goal keeper Brittany Read. The sophomore, statistically, was one of the best keepers in the country and ranked top five in save percentage.

The spiral started against North Carolina. U of L was simply outmatched in the game and UNC was leading by double-digits, but late in the game Read awkwardly planted her knee and came up limping. That was the last game of the year Read would play as she tore her ACL. Read was the team’s only keeper on the roster and Young had to reach out to Kelly Gielner, who left the team before the season started. Louisville dropped the last five games on the year including the 15-5 loss to Northwestern in the NCAA tournament.  With a year that had so much promise to end in the way it did is truly one of the most disappointing events of the year.

4. Football starts season 0-3

The 2015 football season had nothing but uncertainty around it. Louisville had questions at the two most important positions, quarterback and offensive line. Away from that, U of L had quality players in every other position. The Cardinals dropped the opener against Auburn 31-24 in the Georgia Dome. U of L had plenty of missed chances in the first half and the Tigers took advantage. Despite the 24-points in the second half lead by Lamar Jackson, Louisville was too far behind to take the win.

The next loss came in the home opener against Houston. Kyle Bolin replaced Jackson in the fourth quarter and the final 15 minutes was a complete shootout. Houston’s Greg Ward Jr found a open receiver in the corner of the endzone and Louisville couldn’t answer back. The third loss came against national runner-up Clemson at home. A relatively low scoring game picked up late. Trayveon Samuel ran back a 100-yard kickoff return to put Louisville within three. A holding call on second-down while U of L was driving to win or tie the game doomed the Cardinals. The start was a worst case scenario as U of L and really put the Cards behind the eight ball.

3. Women’s basketball drops NCAA Tournament game at YUM

After an extremely rough start to the year, U of L’s women’s basketball was able to recover and was one of the hottest teams in the nation. Following an unexpected loss against Syracuse in the second round of the ACC tournament, Louisville was awarded a three-seed in the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals were fortunate enough to play their first two games on their home court because Louisville was the regional host. U of L handled Central Arkansas with ease in the first game with a 87-60 win.

Heading into game two, not many people knew about DePaul basketball or Jessica January but that would quickly change. January scored 25 points and with 15-seconds left, she hit one free throw at the line giving DePaul a 73-72 lead. With 1.7 seconds left, Myisha Hines-Allen was called for a charge during her drive to the basket and the game was over. Similar to the softball team, all the momentum that had been created late in the year was erased in seconds. Even worse, it was on their home-court and in front of their fans.

2. Baseball gets sent home by grand slam

Dan McDonnell truly out-done himself with his 2016 team. His squad had seven MLB draft picks and another handful that will be selected next year. The team started the year as the second-ranked team in the nation. They won their second-straight ACC Atlantic regular season title and were picked as the number-two overall seed in the NCAA tournament. The Cards hosted their second consecutive Regional and Super Regional games.

In the Super Regionals, U of L was matched up with Cinderella-team UC Santa Barbara. Louisville dropped the Saturday game after getting no offense. Game two on Sunday was an elimination game for the Cardinals. Louisville led nearly the whole game 3-0 and Zach Burdi entered the game in the eighth, the home crowd was certain they’d be back Monday for game three.

After Burdi allowed a single and walked two batters, the bases were loaded with one out. UCSB put in a freshman pinch-hitter and the worst scenario happened for U of L. Sam Cohen turned on a change-up and hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning. The swing left the crowd speechless and propelled the Gauchos to the College World Series. The loss will end up ranking as one of the worst losses in any Cardinal fan’s memory.

1. Self-imposed sanctions takes basketball’s postseason away

February 5th, 2015. That’s the date President James Ramsey, Athletic Director Tom Jurich, head basketball coach Rick Pitino and university-hired investigator Chuck Smrt held a press conference in Strickler Hall. The mass email sent out to media outlets alerting everyone hit like a cold gust of wind before a thunder storm rolls in. The calm before the storm came when Ramsey, Jurich, Pitino and Smrt entered the side door of the hall and silence followed them.

Then, Ramsey started his speech and all of his words ran together until he said, “After consulting with Director of Athletics Tom Jurich, we made the decision to withhold the men’s basketball program from all conference and NCAA postseason competition following the 2015-16 men’s basketball season.”

A noticeably distraught and nearly emotional Pitino, displayed a mix of anger and disbelief as Ramsey and Jurich gave their statements. This self-imposed ban literally stung the Cardinal faithful and created this sense of numbness. The 2015-2016 team was easily the most likeable in recent memory, which made it hurt even worse. Fresh off their best win of the year, 71-65 over no. 2 North Carolina, the Cardinals went from glee to anguish in a matter of four days.

Pitino urged the fan base to embrace the final nine games and the fans didn’t fall short. U of L’s pride and joy is basketball, hands down. So for something like this to happen to your prize possession, it’s simply hard to grasp. The announcement was one of the darkest times in program history. Cardinal fans are just hoping this nightmare is behind them and doesn’t pop up ever again.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

About Dalton Ray

Sports editor (2016-18) that is technically award winning.

Email: dray@louisvillecardinal.com

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