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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cards guards key to tourney success










THURSDAY at the COUPLE:









-Lady Cards guards hold the answer....

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-Busboom added to Volleyball coaches.
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-No, no row we go...
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With tournament time drawing near for Jeff Walz's University of Louisville women's basketball team, successes and failures in advancement will depend on how the young group of Cardinal guards handle the pressures and assignments that lay ahead of them . Pictured here, junior Becky Burke and freshman Shoni Schimmel will be two of the key elements in the multi guard attack that Louisville will use against opponents in both the BIG EAST and NCAA Tournaments.
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When the season started, it looked like Jeff Walz had more guards than Charlie Sheen has disorderly conduct charges. Returning from his 2009-10 Cardinals were Shelby Harper, three point specialist Becky Burke and valuable bench relief and sometimes starters Nikki Burton, LaToya Johnson and Rachel Story. New to campus were Portland. Oregon superstar Shoni Schimmel, Vanderbilt transfer Tia Gibbs, Christian Academy sharpshooter Antonita Slaughter and heralded New Jersey play maker Charmaine Tay. Nine players that went to battle for two, sometimes three spots in the Walz rotation.
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Along the way, the ranks thinned. Burton has been sidelined all season with a groin injury. Johnson's time halted with concussion-like symptoms. Harper barely got off the bench in the early going and Slaughter's time was limited as well. Story seldom used except in blowout situations. Schimmel and Gibbs grabbed the starting role, Burke logged multiple minutes each contest and Tay was used frequently in the rotation. As the Cards prepare for the post-season, Harper's time has increased significantly and Tay banished to the Walz doghouse for unspecified violations of team rules. Schimmel, Burke and Gibbs have shouldered the major responsibilities for the Cards front court..Slaughter appearing occasionally and Story seeing little on-court time.
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The direction and tempo of this team has been placed in the hands of the dynamo West Coast sensation Schimmel. She potentially possesses the best passing skills and on court recognition abilities of any guard to ever play for the Lady Cards. Unfortunately, she's still susceptible to the errors in judgement and inconsistency that most freshmen go through. Burke excells at times as a long distance specialist and has improved somewhat on her defensive skills from last year but still isn't a threat to burn opponents with any type of dribble drive or mid range shooting. Gibbs has been a pleasant surprise in her first year as a Cardinal...capable of scoring prolifically and her steals and defensive skills the best of the Cards guards. Harper provides an off the bench spark with her manic ball moving skills and is a big emotional charge for her teammates as well when she steps onto the court.
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Fans will look at the Cardinal stat sheets and scoring and point to Monique Reid as the engine that drives the Cardinal Express...but Reid is only as good as the guard playmakers ability to get the ball to her. She has the unmatched ability to penetrate the paint and seemingly score whenever she wants to...but a great deal of her productivity is dependent on if she gets the ball from a Schimmel, Gibbs, Burke or Harper.
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Lady Card fans will also bemoan the fact that Louisville rebounds poorly and has no real strength inside the paint. I will point out to you that the Lady Cards could learn from the guys that reside in the locker room right down the hall from them in the KFC YUM Center. Pitino's Cards are driven by the outside shooting and ball hawking abilities of Peyton Siva, Preston Knowles, Chris Smith, Kyle Kuric and Mike Marra. None of these guys will ever be classified as "4" or "5" players. Louisville's men don't rebound all that great either...but they compensate in other ways...Hines, Vails and Taylor are sufficent in their roles if the guards "are on".
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Looking at some of Louisville's key wins this season over tougher opponents bears this out. Guard play, especially on the defensive side, was the major factor in upending DePaul, UK and Rutgers. Consequently, the failure to guard or score from the guard tandem led to losses against Georgetown, Notre Dame and Providence. The Cards face some of the best guards in the nation each night in BIG EAST play. Maya Moore, Sugar Rodgers, Skylar Diggins, Sam Quigley and Tasha Harris are just a few of the many back court specialists that have the potential to go on to successful WNBA or European basketball careers if they choose to.
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Louisville begins play Saturday in the BIG EAST Tournament against the winner of first round action between Providence and Villanova. The Cards handled 'Nova easily in regular season play and fell to the Friars in the last game of the regular season. Neither squad has a guard tandem that strikes much fear into opponents...which is why it is imperative that the UofL guards take control and dominate against either team they end up facing. Game time is 8 p.m.
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Newly hired Cardinal Volleyball coach Anne Kordes has added Dani Busboom to her staff as an assistant coach. Busboom come to Louisville from the University of Tennessee...where she has been an assistant since 2009.
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"I could not be more excited about the addition of Dani Busboom to our staff at Louisville. All it take is one meeting with Dani and you understand immediately how she was able to compile such an incredible resume....I am certain Dani has a successful carer ahead of her as a recruiter and head coach." Anne Kordes commented on the new hire.
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Busboom played her college volleyball at Nebraska
and also did radio color commentary on Husker volleyball matches.
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At least Nebraska gets it.
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The lack of any Cardinal women's coverage on the radio airwaves except for basketball is ridiculous and needs changing. Louisville has CARDS RADIO, for goodness sakes...Why waste the air time on idiots like Petros and Money, Jim Rome or some of the other inane shouters that Fox Sports Radio serves up. Cardinal softball, volleyball...even field hockey, soccer and lacrosse deserve fair and equal treatment. The men's sports football, basketball and baseball all are broadcast. Where's the equality, Mr. Jurich? Tear down that wall and get Cardinal womens' sports on CARDS RADIO. If the Louisville Bats have to have air time... adhere to the premise and move them to 1450 AM or somewhere on the FM dial...
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We've also noticed that WKRD has started referring to themselves as SPORTS RADIO 790 lately, too. Dissension in the Cardinal ranks? About the only direct Cardinal reports come from the Cardinal Insider anymore...from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Although Drew Deener, Joe B. and Denny and the Afternoon Underdogs do discuss and take calls on Univeristy of Louisville sports topics, the emphasis seems to be on general sports in the area on these locally produced shows. University of Louisville athletics deserves better. WRKD is owned by Clear Channel, though...and their obvious infatuation locally with UK cannot be denied. Could we get a Louisville radio station that favors University of Louisville sports?
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If you were looking forward to the Cards rowing team facing Dayton this weekend, we're sorry to report that the matches have been postponed because of high water conditions on the mighty Ohio River. No word on a re-schedule date yet.
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