Beginning Saturday, the next three games for the University of Louisville women's basketball team are key and crucial in terms of Big East success and ranking. The Cards have had the week off after a nice win against Providence in Freedom Hall. They take to the road to face a dangerous Georgetown team that is currently ranked 24th in the nation.
Georgetown defeated Providence Tuesday night. They have two outstanding guards that can drill the three and apply pressure defense. Louisville is slowly starting to find their identity in the back court after losing Dez Byrd for the season and having back up point guard LaToya Johnson out with a hip injury. They still have no true point guard in the lineup...using a combination of Nikki Burton, Shelby Harper and Rachel Story to play the position.
All three are freshmen. Still prone to the freshmen mistakes and lapses of court awareness that all freshmen go through. Of the three, Burton shows the most promise. Jeff Walz has made it easier on her lately, telling her not to worry about all the skills needed to be a point guard...just go out and play your game. It seems to have worked. Burton had a big game against the Friars and is using her athletic ability and ball hawking skills to create and produce for the Cards.
After Georgetown comes Notre Dame into Freedom Hall. Currently #3 in the nation, they come to the Ville 3 nights after playing at #1 UConn. It's unlikely they'll come out of that one with a win, so they'll be looking to get back on the winning track against Louisville. The Irish are deep, talented and dangerous. Muffet McGraw a veteran and cagey coach that will employ the press all night long if needed and switch up the defenses. Freshman Skylar Diggins is all that was predicted.
Next Saturday, the Lady Cards entertain Syracuse in Freedom Hall. The 'Cuse is coming off a big win over Rutgers Weds. night in the Carrier Dome. 3rd year coach Quentin Hillsman teaches and puts the emphasis on aggresive and hard hitting hoops. Syracuse has flirted with a top 25 ranking all season and will be looking to come into Freedom Hall to avenge a loss to Louisville in their place last season.
Tough sledding ahead for Walz's crew. Currently at 2-1 in Big East play, Louisville needs to win at least 2 of these next three to realistically have a shot at finishing in the top four of the Big East regular season statistics. They'll need big efforts from Monique Reid, Becky Burke, Keisha Hines and whoever else Walz puts into play.
The Cards have shown the ability to bury opponents early in games this year. They've also shown the trait to fold early against competition. Let's hope the burying version shows up in the next three.
Written by Sonja 1/13/10