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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shelby Harper not short on skills

IN THE WEDNESDAY EDITION OF CARDINAL
COUPLE:

-Shelby Harper's hustle a key for Lady Cards

-Fern Creek wins in Softball World Series

-Angel and Atlanta fall out of first place

She may be only 5'4"..but there is no shortness of hustle in Shelby Harper's game. The Scottsville, KY. point guard walked on the University of Louisville women's basketball team last year, recommended by Monique Reid..based on AAU ball the two had played together..and ended up playing in 29 games for the Cards...starting in 17 of those.

Cardinal fans quickly fell in love with her breakneck, frantic style of play and she also showed she could punish a zone...nailing five three-pointers against Utah. Harper ran Jeff Walz's offense from the point guard position for most of the second half of the 2009-10 season and led the Cardinals in assists for the season. Sharing time at the point with Rachel Story, Harper's tenancity on defense was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing Lady Cards season.

She averaged 3.2 point per game for Louisville and shot 33% from beyond the arc. When injuries had Louisville down to a bare bones compliment of 6-7 healthy players, Harper and Burke would often put in 38-40 minutes per game at the guard positions.

If there is a knock on Harper, it would be her size. How effective a 5'4" point guard can be in the tough, physical BIG EAST is certainly a matter of debate and there were times that she was overmatched and outskilled against some of the leagues top performers. No one, though...had a bigger heart and sense of determination than Harper, though...and with a year of experience and wisdom behind her, she'll be a key component in the 2010-11 Lady Cards.

PROGNOSIS: Shelby Harper will be deep into the battle for starting point guard this year for Jeff Walz's Louisville Cardinals. Although she probably won't win the starting role, you can expect her to be a valuable 'off the bench' contributor and emotional spark plug for the Cards. She quickly became a crowd favorite during her first year at Louisville and could see time as the designated "three shooter" for Louisville if Burke or Schimmel are having a rough night.

(Most of the Lady Cards have gone home for a few days before the Fall semester begins at UofL. When they return, it'll be just a short peroid of before the team can officially begin practices. We'll wrap up our review of returning Lady Cards next week with articles on LaToya Johnson and Dez Byrd.)

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Fern Creek 16U softball won their first game in the losers bracket of the Babe Ruth girls' World Series yesterday, easily defeating Herndon, VA 7-1. They remain alive in the double elimination format and face Lodi, CA. today in their first game. The Creekers beat Lodi in pool play earlier in the tournament and if they win, they advance to play Luzerne County, PA. Lodi knocked host Varina, VA. out of the competition yesterday with a 4-1 victory.

Keep winning and advancing is the only option here for Fern Creek. One game at a time, girls.

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Seattle went on a decisive 8-0 run late in the fourth quarter to defeat the Atlanta Dream 80-70 last night in WNBA action in Atlanta. The Dream stymied the Storm early in the contest...jumping out to a 12-4 lead...causing Seattle coach Rick Agler to bench his starting lineup and play his bench the remainder of the first half. The strategy worked and Seattle led 32-31 at the half.

Atlanta actually led the contest with 4 minutes to go but veteran Lauren Jackson keyed a Storm rally to get the win for the league's top team. The Storm (25-4) clinched home court advantage for the playoffs with the win.

Fox Sports South televised the contest and from what we could determine by watching, Atlanta needs an extended session of scoring in the paint practice. The Dream missed over 40 shots in the paint last night, many of them lightly contested...and was also baffled by Seattle's switching defense. One also has to question why McCoughtry was on the bench when Seattle made their late fourth quarter run. Not knocking Dream coach Marynell Meadows, mind you...but shouldn't you have your best out there during crunch time? At times this season, it has appeared that Meadows is punishing McCoughtry by placing her on the bench for extended periods of time during key parts of the game. Maybe there is a reason behind it, but if I've got the third leading scorer in the league on my roster...I want her out there when it's a close contest.

Angel McCoughtry led Atlanta in scoring with 16 points but produced a sub-par 3-19 shooting night. The Dream falls to third place in the Eastern Conference, in a tie with the Washington Mystics and one and one half games behind Indiana....who defeated L.A. 80-76 in Los Angeles last night.

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