The Louisville Cardinals are sliding into the women's basketball season in style. As a way to encourage players to visit the coaching staff more often, Louisville coach Jeff Walz installed a slide from the second-floor coaches' offices to the Cardinals' practice gym at the Planet Fitness Kueber Center.
"It's been fun, and players have enjoyed it," Walz told ESPN. "We have had some funny sights as people have come flying down the slide. We put some padding at the bottom. If you haven't practiced sticking your dismount, you have something soft to land on."
According to Walz, the project has been in the works for a while. He thought about it five years ago, but he needed to make sure the design was safe. Walz hired a local man to draw the design, and once safety requirements were met, a donor helped with the finances.
Walz finally showed the slide to the public during the team's media day on Oct. 27. His landing is still a bit of a work in progress, but it doesn't seem like going down the stairs will be an option anymore.
The Cardinals are sliding into the 2022-23 campaign with high expectations. Louisville is the ACC preseason favorite as well as the AP preseason No. 7. The departures of starters Emily Engstler, Kianna Smith and Chelsie Hall take some power away on both sides of the ball, but this roster has the potential to be just as strong as last year's squad that reached the Final Four.
Louisville kept leading scorer Hailey Van Lith, as well as Olivia Cochran, Mykasa Robinson and Liz Dixon, who all shot at 50% from the field or better last season. There are also solid transfers such as Morgan Jones from Florida State, who averaged 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Jones was named to the preseason All-ACC team along with Van Lith. The icing on the cake is Louisville adding the No. 13 freshman class in the nation with four top-100 prospects in Zyanna Walker, Jalyn Brown, Nyla Harris and Imani Lester.
The Cardinals are set to tip off their 2022-23 season on Nov. 7, when they host the Cincinnati Bearcats at KFC Yum! Center.