Thursday, February 11, 2010
Sometimes things happen...
(A possible idea to cheer up the disappointed male fans of the University of Louisville women's basketball team. Be sure and tip your server properly.)
It hasn't turned out to be the kind of season Jeff Walz or fans of the Lady Cards were looking for after the drive to the NCAA Championship game last season. Sitting at 11-13 and 3-8 in Big East play, Walz's Cards have gone thru way more trials and tribulations than ever expected at the start of the season. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. Without making excuses for what is currently happining on the hardwood, it's important to keep in mind some of the things that have contributed to the less than average performance as the season rolls into the final five regular season games.
-Obviously, the loss of Dez Byrd at point guard had a major impact on how the guard play has performed on the court. Byrd was beginning to be the point guard that was a catalyst and factor when she directed the offense. Her slashing, scoring style and uncanny recognition in finding the open player hasn't been replaced. She'll be back next year to continue her career...an encouraging aspect.
-Other injuries have decimated the squad in a big way. LaToya Johnson, a capable back up to Byrd, is still having hip issues. Nikki Burton goes down with a hip injury just when it looked like she was beginning to show the skills that made her an All-State player in high school. Laura Terry's knee has kept the hard working, versitale front line performer at bay.
-The NCAA's ruling to keep Tise Wright off the court for her final semester has weakened the Cards front line. Tise may have not been able to contribute a ton of minutes if she had been able to perform but her accurate shooting in the paint and ability to rebound and block out are sorely missed. As a result, Keisha Hines is getting way more minutes than she can handle...excessive fouls being partially the result of the fatigue and overreaction early in contests.
-Although Shelby Harper has given her best effort at point and the walk on freshman appears to have a bright career ahead of her at UofL, let's face it...she's not the type of starting point guard that will win you a lot of games. Her size a big factor. Harper will become a great backup in the future, contributing valuable minutes off the bench...but too many times this year we've seen talented and larger opposing point guards dominate her on the court.
The Cards still have talent, no doubt. Monique Reid is a proven scorer and a solid force inside but her defensive abilities have diminished from her freshman year and she disappears in crucial points of games. Becky Burke is a better than average three point specialist but needs to become more active in other aspects of the game. Asia Taylor is just beginning to show some of the talents that made her an Ohio All-State selection but recovering from the extensive leg injury that ended her high school career has been a long process. All State selection Tia Gibbs will be on the court next season and is the type of guard that can take over games.
Jeff Walz has pledged that he and his coaching staff will continue to work with this team until the end of the season. It will need to be extended past the final game, though. Youth has its drawbacks and without a true leader on the court this year, the play has been fragmented at best. There are no Angel McCoughtry's or Candyce Bingham's on the court this year for the Cards...there are some very good athletes that need to become more decisive, aggressive and basketball savvy. When you consider that Walz's starting lineup for the St John's game had 2 freshmen, 2 sophomores and a junior...the toll that graduation and injuries have had on this squad becomes evident.
Don't give up on this team. This year's painful learning and growing experience will only serve as a grim reminder in the future that circumstances can affect performance. The incoming freshman class is deep and talented. The current freshmen will be better and more confident next year. The dedication and hard work to improve must come from within each player, though. Desire and motivation are fine things, but following thru on these concepts with hard work and practice are the key. The players have a very fine coaching staff to guide them back to a successful season next year. They still may pull a few wins out the remainder of this season. The success and failure of this, though...has to come from a commitment from each and every player to give 100%, listen to the coaches and dedicate themselves to hard work and the extra effort. Those who will not adhere and follow this philosophy need to look elsewhere for continuing their college athletic and academic pursuits.
Written by Paul