In eight years, University of Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz has coached in three NCAA Tournament National Championship games.
Walz was the top assistant at Maryland when the Terrapins won the 2006 title and led U of L to the title game in ’09 and this season.
Now, Walz doesn’t want to stop there.
Already having U of L as one of only three programs in the country – along with Connecticut and Notre Dame – with more than one NCAA title game appearance in the last five years, Walz plans on making keeping the program at the top.
”We’re ready to take the next step,” Walz said. “I’m hoping there’s some players out there that realize, ‘Hey, look what they have done at Louisville in the past six years.’ We’ve played for two national championships in the past five years.
”We’re still one step away. Now, we have to climb that next step to be able to cut those nets down. That’s what we want to do here.”
Geno Auriemma, who won his eighth national title on Tuesday with a win over U of L in the national title game, believes Walz is the guy to do win a title at U of L.
Walz, who had been pursued by Ohio State but on Thursday night told Cardinal Authority he was staying at U of L, was called “a guy who can do the job,” by Auriemma on Tuesday night. The Hall of Fame coach said many times “there’s a flavor of the month” in the NCAA but that Walz was “a proven winner.”
”In the last six years, as a matter of fact, I don’t know anybody since I started coaching 28 years ago that has done more than Jeff in first six years,” Auriemma said. “Maybe it was done before that, but in my 28 years nobody has done what he has done in just six years.”
”He’s got to be a genius.”
Walz is 148-65 during his tenure at U of L. He has guided the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament five of six years. U of L had never made it past the second round of the NCAA prior to Walz arriving but has been at least to the Sweet 16 four times.
U of L athletic director Tom Jurich called the job that Walz has done with the program “unbelievable” and said despite the coach getting calls from other programs that he was “going to hang on to this one.”
Walz led the Cardinals to four straight wins over higher-seeded team, including the biggest upset in women’s basketball history when they beat No. 1 Baylor, on the way to the national title game this season.
U of L Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director Julie Hermann said the run the Cardinals went on “is a game changer.” As a No. 5 seed, the Cardinals were the highest seed to ever make it to the title game.
“I personally believe that Jeff Walz is somebody who will change women’s basketball over the next decade,” Hermann said. “I have been saying it for several years. I think he’s in a position to own women’s basketball.”