ORLANDO, Fla. – To hear the girls from Louisville tell it, the addition of a national-championship trophy can really give a boost to the rest of a school’s athletic department. That said, Louisville’s new men’s basketball title has been good news for the rest of campus.
“After we won the championship game, campus went absolutely crazy,” Louisville sophomore Emily Haas remembers. “It’s really fun to be a part of that.”
Now Haas and her women’s golf team are concentrating on earning a Big East Conference championship title and the automatic qualifier into NCAA regional play that comes with it.
Haas remembers watching the men’s national championship game with her teammates. On Sunday, she was instrumental in the Cardinals’ climb to the top of the Big East leaderboard. Haas, who lost a playoff for individual honors at Reunion Resort’s Watson Course a year ago, posted a first-round even-par 72 in drizzly conditions. The team came in at 1-under 287, seven shots ahead of Notre Dame.
“Our back is against the wall a little bit,” head coach Courtney Trimble said of the conference championship. “We basically have to win to make it to the postseason.”
Louisville is No. 63 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and likely needs said AQ to keep the season going. It would be Louisville’s first regional appearance since 2011. A Big East title at the end of a weekend at Reunion Resort would be the fifth in program history.
Louisville, however, is a team moving forward. Trimble’s roster consists of one freshman, two sophomores, a junior and a senior. At the end of her first year with the Cardinals, Trimble can look back on spots of brilliance. Still, it’s a work in progress.
“Sometimes in golf, you have to get worse before you get better,” said Trimble, who spent the past three seasons as the head coach at Central Florida.
This season in Louisville has been about increased attention to short game and mental game, and learning how to be successful on the road. Louisville’s only victory this season came at its own Cardinal Cup in September. The competition has been rigorous, however. The team’s tournament schedule included stops at the Tar Heel Invitational and Bryan National Collegiate, two of the deepest tournaments in the Southeast.
“This is the first round all year where we’ve had four people do what they’re capable of doing,” Trimble said of the beginning of the Big East championship.
It all goes back to bragging rights within campus perimeters. Louisville is a school that takes great pride in athletics, something Trimble said is evidenced in many ways. Women’s basketball can draw crowds as big as 20,000, and head men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino sat down with fellow coaches after the national-championship game to deliver this message: We do well so that all sports can do well. Trimble vividly remembers those words, and knows it’s had an effect on her team.
“They want to play well for the University of Louisville.”