UofL women get first NCAA tourney win without Walz

Coach Walz sidelined during Cards win in first NCAA tournament game

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For a midday game during work hours, the KFC Yum! Center had a good crowd on hand Friday to see the University of Louisville women’s basketball team take care of business against Robert Morris -- winning 69 to 34.

The bad part? Head Coach Jeff Walz wasn’t there to see it.

Walz served a one game suspension after he complained last year about the officiating during the NCAA Final Four.

Fans weren’t happy about it, but Walz took it like a champ, eating lunch while he watched the Cards next door at Sidebar Restaurant.

As fans filed into the KFC Yum! Center to see their No. 1 seed Cards in the NCAA tourney opener, they were pumped.

“I am amazed by the UofL women," Cards fan Barbara Minor said. "They are doing such a fantastic job.”

Still, something was missing.

“That’s not fair," fan Debra King said. "He should not have to miss the first game of this first round.”

Fan John Haskins said it was just too much.

“Banning him from the building, I think was a bit extreme," he said.

Cards Associate Head Coach Stephanie Norman took over coaching duties for Walz after he admitted his mouth took over in the last NCAA tourney in the heat of the moment.

Thanks to an ESPN camera, a national audience knew Walz had to watch the game from outside the arena across the street.

He laughed looking at a text from a friend at UT Martin.

“He goes, ‘I’m watching your game, new outfit?’” Walz laughed.

Walz quietly cheered on his team from his lunch table, talking to the TV and his players.

“That’s it, nice job Sam,” he said.

We asked him if the whole thing was weird.

“It’s weird,” he said, “for the fact we (the team) are over there playing right now.”

Taking game notes with pal and Bellarmine Head Basketball Coach Scotty Davenport, Walz signed autographs and took photos with fans during timeouts, confident in his assistants.

“Steph, we’ve been together for 12 years, I think she’s done a remarkable job of getting players in the game,” Walz said of Norman.

As Walz took the suspension in stride, Davenport, like fans, not so much. Davenport said it was hard seeing his friend stuck outside of the building,

“If everybody helps young people, we’re going to be a lot better off," Davenport said. "Let’s don’t penalize people who want to help young people. We can penalize him in another way.”

Once the game was over, Walz was allowed to go into the building only to scout the next game, he could not be part of the post-game excitement. He said he’s ready to see a big crowd, Sunday when he can again work the sidelines.

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