Walz’s players begged to differ. They thought it looked more like he was going to a hay ride.
“It was definitely pink, not red,” Schimmel said.
“It looked like a picnic,” teammate Sheronne Vails said.
But Auriemma, who owns a restaurant, insisted it was a tablecloth, and further suggested he wanted to hire Walz as a busboy. To which Walz responded by suggesting he would resign and take Auriemma up on it, if he could have the head waiter’s job.
“As a women’s basketball coach, you go through times where you’re always wondering what are you gonna do when you’re finished,” Walz said. “. . . And now that I’ve got the opportunity to be a waiter in his restaurant, I don’t know what the hell else somebody wants in life. So my goal is to become the head waiter. Not just one that sits in the back. I want to be the best damn one he’s got. So I’m going to talk to him after the game tomorrow night and see when I can start.”
Walz has employed all kinds of antic remarks and mind games to keep his team in such a larkish giant-slaying mood. He has told them not to think, “just go play,” and assured them there is no such thing as a bad shot if it goes in the net. He has shown them documentary films of great sports upsets, and hoarsely recounted the Biblical story of David and Goliath, which they have so taken to heart that before each game they tell each other, “We just need five stones.”
He has given them T-shirts with “Party Crashers” emblazoned on the back.
“Let’s live it up and enjoy the moment,” he said. Before they went on the court in the semifinals, he told them, “Stop for a second at the end of the hallway and look around in the stands and see all the banners and all your fans. Just soak it in for a moment.”
No one personifies the Louisville looseness more than Schimmel, a hybrid guard whose rubbery facial expressions vacillate between a fierce scowl and wide lollipop of a smile. Schimmel, who is part Jewish and part Native American, spent her early childhood on the Umatilla tribal lands in Pendleton, Ore. She characterizes her style as “rez ball,” meaning pickup. She has scored in double figures in six straight games and eight of the last nine. But it’s not her numbers that command attention; it’s the captivating exhibitionism with which she plays, whether launching a moon ball of a shot, or hitting a blind reverse layup, or flicking a behind-the-back pass.