31-9 THIRD QTR. CLOSES DOOR ON NKU 85-57
As Jeff Walz put it Sunday, it's all on the backs of his players now...this season. Either they want to play hard and win or they don't. And, if they don't, they won't play.
Louisville showed up to play eventually in the third quarter against Northern Kentucky University Sunday in Highland Heights, KY at the B.B.&T Arena, going on a 12-0 run to begin the second half and continued to augment on a 37-35 halftime lead. After three it was 68-44 Cards and they went on to build the lead to 35 midway through the fourth before the game ended.
The game started out with a bit of an interesting twist. The starting Cardinal five consisted of Bionca Dunham, Dana Evans, Liz Dixon, Yacine Diop and Jess Laemmle. The first two in the sequence are starters we've grown accustom to. Liz did see some early season starts. Jess was a bit of a surprise. Speculation filtered through the media (basically me, Sonya and TCZ's Tom Farmer), plus on Twitter about this. Was it a disciplinary move? Turns out Walz picked out the five players he thought worked the hardest in the practices following the Oregon loss and put them out there.
It was a slow beginning for the Cardinal starting five. NKU jumped out to a 7-1 lead. Eventually Louisville rallied, a few players entered from the bench and the Cards went on a 9-0 run at the end of the first to hold a 22-16 lead.
NKU wasn't done battling, though.
The Norse fought back to tale a 25-24 lead after three minutes of the second session on a Carissa Garcia three. They led 30-26 halfway through thee second period after Ally Niece knocked in a jumper in the paint. Louisville picked up the defense , though, and reclaimed a 35-32 lead with 1:26 until halftime on a "E" three. The half ended with the Cards clinging to a 37-35 edge.
The Cards had 12 from the resurgent Jaz Jones. Nine turnovers were costly but Louisville was holding a 12-0 fast-break for points edge. Molly Glick and Garcia combined for 20 for the Norse and NKU had made six threes.
According to Jaz (who went 9 for 10 on the afternoon and scored 21 points), the halftime discussion centered around defense and getting the transition game going. Coach Walz gave a slightly different answer. Coach impressed upon the squad that the focus on things should be about what they want instead of what he wants. Walz reminded everyone he had six years left on his contract. If they wanted to have a disappointing season, he reminded them his goals were still to reach a Final Four and National Championship but he couldn't do it, they had to do it. That dialogue eventually morphed into a dialogue about the new players and the past.
|Coach got ball from NKU celebrating his|
return. before the game. He didn't shoot it.
The Cards were never seriously challenged in the fourth, Walz played all 11 eligible and Molly Lockhart got in seven good minutes and responded with three points. Final: 85-57
|Paulie and Barry Johnson, who was my fraternity|
"little brother" 30+ years ago at UofL
Points off turnovers went 31-17 Louisville's way. The Cards did have 17 miscues but NKU topped that with 21. UofL won the points-in-paint battle 44-20, swept the fast break for points stat 23-0 and second chance points 14-5.
A tale of two halves, it was. 8 for 20 from the deep, with five players hitting threes, is nice and Jess even nailed one when she was on the court as a starter. Louisville eventually put away a Horizon League team picked to finish sixth in their conference but winners of their previous four by eventually adhering to two major important factors:
Playing defense and creating off that defensive effort. Defense leads to potential points.
I loved that second half version of the UofL WBB team. I hope Walz left the first half version in Highland Heights by the Skyline Chili parlor.
THE FRED REPORT
FREE THROWS -- 11 for 14 is 78.6% and that passes our standard of 70%. Equally distributed among the seven Cards who attempted them. Yacine Diop goes to the head of the class by hitting all three of hers. We can award a Capital "F" for Sunday's effort at the stripe.
REBOUNDS -- Louisville all the way with a huge 42-20 edge. When you consider NKU went 8 for 28 (28.5%) in the final half, Louisville corralled a lot of those misses. Kylee Shook had seven grabs in 18 minutes and Bionca had six in 21 minutes, those rebounding numbers look even more impressive. And, each Cardinal that played gathered at least one. Yes, we award a Capital "R" for the UofL rebounding effort.
EXECUTION/EFFICIENCY -- Once again, a tale of two halves. Only seven second half turnovers and the transition game was working with the whitewash in fast break points. But, we look at the whole contest and the first half wasn't pretty in terms of getting things done with the ball. 38.9% shooting in the second quarter hurt the 53.2% shooting for the entire game. We'll compromise and award a lower case "e" for this stat.
DEFENSE -- The defensive effort really picked up in the final 20 minutes, especially in holding the Norse to that 28.5% shooting, compared to 50% in the first half. Nine steals (Diop and Kasa with three each) and 21 turnovers committed by the Norse. For fairness, we'll split the difference, Louisville played a half of great defensive and a so-so half of guarding. We'll assign a lower case "d" for Sunday's overall defense.
FINAL FRED REPORT: F-R-e-d
THEY SAID IT
Coach Walz and Dana shared the post-game interview. Their words are worth hearing and you can access these words at the link below. They didn't pass the microphone around to the media for this one so I hope the questions asked aren't too hard to hear. The guys from the AP and some local Northern KY writer must have been under the delusions that they were the only ones in the room, so you won't hear Paulie on here except once. We left before the NKU interviews, sorry bout that, y'all.
JEFF WALZ AND JAZMINE JONES
Sonya and I hoped for a blowout win, and we got one. Eventually. Hoped to see the Louisville vs Oregon team instead of the Louisville vs Ohio State squad and we got that for a half.
Give NKU a lot of credit for sticking around that first half. Glick, Garcia and former Mercer County star Emmy Souder took the fight to the Cards and should probably make the All-Horizon Conference All-Star teams.
I'm not sure this was the type of contest leading up to UK I wanted to see, though. I hope that Walz finally impressed upon his players that going full strength and hard all the time you are on the court, in practice or in a game, is what will get you playing time.
|He's Norse, of course.|
I hope they take his words to heart over the week between games. I hope they work on the "jelling" and remember that defense leads to the opportunity for offense. I hope they can play two halves in Lexington like they played the final half against the Norse.
Time will tell.