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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Softball, Lacrosse take to road this weekend...Smith near a decision?


FRIDAY @ C.C.

-Softball heads to Pitt for weekend series

-Lacrosse visits Loyola and Georgetown

-WNBA Draft holds interesting possibilities

-Top three Lady Cards poll figures...

-Bria Smith nearing a decision?


Chelsea Bemis has five home
runs for UofL this year.

Sandy Pearsall's UofL women's softball team travels to Pittsburgh for a pivotal series in BIG EAST conference play this weekend. The Cards (27-10, 5-1) face a Pitt team second in the BIG EAST standings with a 24-8 overall  and 3-0 conference record. The Cards defeated Pitt in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament last year at Ulmer Stadium.

Of particular concern is the Pitt pitching staff, which has a 1.15 ERA combined from their three regular hurlers. Alyssa O'Connell is the Panthers ace with an 0.74 ERA but they also get strong mound performances
from Karlyn Jones and senior Cory Berliner. Louisville has only freshman Caralisa Connell  to counter with (14-4) unless staff ace Tori Collins is sufficiently recovered from a foot injury to toe the strip. Connell is on a eight game win streak and is backed up now by walk-on Katie Petrino.

Louisville will need the bats of sophomore Jennifer Esteban, senior Chelsea Bemis and freshmen Taner Fowler, Katie Keller and Maggie Ruckenbrod to come through against the Panthers. Alicja Wolny has also been excellent at the plate lately with a .374 batting average and team best 35 RBI's. Louisville is 6-1 lifetime against the Panthers and we're confident that the strong arm of Connell and the hitting of Bemis and crew will bring a sweep back to Louisville.

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Louisville Lacrosse takes to the road also this weekend for games at #5 Loyola, MD and #18 Georgetown. Both schools are BIG EAST opponents and will provide two tough contests for the unranked 8-2, 1-0 Cards. Liz Lovejoy, pictured above, had four goals in the Cards last outing, a 15-11 loss to Ohio State at the Louisville Lacrosse Stadium. The Cards have been getting good goalkeeping performances from freshman goalie Ashley Herbst, but will need Lovejoy, along with leading Cardinal scorer Bergan Foley...plus attackers Katie Oliverio and Emily Dashiell to take the fight to both opponents if Louisville expects to win either match. The Cards face Loyola Friday night and the Hoyas on Sunday.

Loyola is 10-0 on the season, 2-0 in the BIG EAST and recently beat #17 Notre Dame on the road. Grace Gavin has 39 goals for the Greyhounds this season.

Georgetown, who will host Cincinnati on Friday before Louisville arrives, recently stormed Yale 16-3 in their last outing. Their 4-5 record this season has been produced against some of the best women's college lacrosse teams in the nation this season and the Hoyas do have five BIG EAST regular-season titles in the last seven years under head coach Ricky Fried.  

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The WNBA will hold their 2011 draft on Monday night. We decided to take a look at the possibilities. Just to lay some foundation, here are the basics...

There are 12 teams in the WNBA. See if you can name them all...OK.. give up? The Eastern Division has the New York Liberty, Connecticut Sun, Atlanta Dream, Indiana Fever, Washington Mystics and Chicago Sky.

WE are taking it as a "given" that Maya Moore
will go first in the draft. Minnesota has the 1st pick

In the Western Division, the participants are the Los Angeles Sparks, Tulsa Shock, Minnesota Lynx, Seattle Storm, Phoenix Mercury and San Antonio Silver Stars.

The order for the 1st round of the draft this year is:
1. Minnesota 2. Tulsa 3. Chicago 4. Minnesota (from Connecticut) 5. Los Angeles 6. San Antonio 7. Tulsa (from Phoenix) 8. Atlanta 9. Indiana 10. New York 11. Washington 12. Seattle

There are 3 rounds to the draft....36 picks total.

So, who are the prime candidates to go in the first round? We will venture a guess here. Our selections come about from looking at several so called "WNBA experts" discussions, a look at  team's various needs, and a review of the best players here in college and overseas. Here's what we are guessing...

1. Maya Moore to Minnesota. They'd be crazy to go elsewhere.
2. Amber Harris to Tulsa. She is a inside dominator.
3. Courtney Vandesloot to Chicago. The Sky needs scorers. Vandersloot knows a thing or two about that.
4. Elizabeth Cambridge to Minnesota. The Australian is 6'8". If  left (Tulsa might go there) the Lynx nab her.
5. Liz Repella to Los Angeles. The Sparks needs outside shooting and defense. Hello, Liz.
6. Jantel Lavender to San Antonio. The low post powerhouse is what the Silver Stars need inside.
7. Ta'Shia Phillips to Tulsa. It's probably whimsy on our part. We'd like to see the Xavier duo stay together.
8. Jeanette Pohlen to Atlanta. The Dream need a consistent perimeter threat. Pohlen could be that.
9. Victoria Dunlap to Indiana. Inside scoring a definite Indiana need. Dunlap knows how to do that.
10. Angel Robinson to New York. The Liberty need perimeter scoring depth. Angel is a dynamo.
11. Danielle Adams to Washington. She could go earlier, because she rebounds and scores.
12. Kayla Pederson to Seattle. The Storm could use depth. Pederson can play both front line spots.

Unfortunately, we don't see Louisville's Keisha Hines as getting a call in the first three rounds. The BIG EAST has several other players that might get invited to camps, though. Sam Quigley (DePaul) Chelsea Cole (Pitt) Taneisha Harrison (Pitt) Devereaux Peters (ND) and Madina Ali (WVU) all played with enough "wow" factor at times to possibly get a look.
.
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Our top three Lady Cards hoopsters of all time poll on the left side of the site has been getting considerable action and voting. Angel McCoughtry is an overwhelming choice for one of the three with 94% popularity. Hard to believe that anyone could actually think she isn't one of the top three and we're surprised that she isn't at 100% but...different strokes for different folks. Sara Nord and Shoni Schimmel are locked up in a battle for second at 39%. Jazz Covington has a 29% level, Monique Reid at 24% and Candyce Bingham rounds out the top six with 22%.

McCoughtry, of course, will return from Europe and led the Atlanta Dream again in the WNBA, Sara Nord works for the city of Jeffersonville, Indiana in community outreach, is the director of the city-owned Nachand Fieldhouse and was charged with an OWI back in December. Schimmel will be a sophomore at UofL in the 2011-12 season.

Candyce Bingham plays basketball in Luxembourg when she
isn't in Louisville.
Covington still plays professionally in Europe and was doing great things in France last we heard. Reid will be a senior at UofL for the 2011-12 season and Bingham plays professionally in Europe, Luxembourg was the last location we heard she was playing hoops at. 

We're leaving the poll open for another week or so. After McCoughtry...the race for the other two spots is still too close to call. Be sure to vote for your favorites!

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Word is that Bria Smith, a 5'10" combo guard from Massapequa, NY is making visits to Tennessee and Louisville later this month. Smith indicates that she is looking for a school with a 'great coaching staff and a team which she can fit in with'. She's also looking for a school that can get to a Final Four or a Sweet Sixteen.

Bria Smith is ranked seventh among the
Class of 2011 prospects.
That last requirement would pretty much describe both programs. Tennessee recently received the news that guard Lauren Avant is transferring out of the program and is looking for a DII school where she can get playing time. Also, pivot Kelley Cain is foregoing her senior season because of injuries. The Vols have four guards returning and two on the way as freshmen.

Louisville was one of the schools Smith considered originally before deciding on Virginia. She was released from the national letter of intent when head coach Debbie Ryan retired from the Cavs. Smith can take two additional visits to other schools but has not indicated whether she will or not.

Coaches cannot comment on prospective recruits.

Smith played with Louisville signee Sara Hammond in the McDonald All-American Girls's Game in Chicago. Tennessee commits Ariel Massengale and Cierra Burdick participated in the game also.

Smith would be better served, in our opinion... by becoming a Louisville Lady Cardinal. Her style of play fits "Walz Ball" perfectly and she likes to play defense...a Walz commandment. Although both teams have a proliference of guards returning, Smith could possibly see a great deal of playing time in a Walz system where multiple guards are used for various court situations. Walz frequently uses a 9-10 player rotation in games and we feel Smith could easily become one of these.

Then, there is the "Pat" factor. Tennessee head coach Pat Summit, in our opinion, doesn't seem to do much on the sidelines anymore except scowl, scream and stare at the court and referees. Don't take our word on this...go back and watch some UT games...particulary the huddles from the season that just ended. It's the assistants drawing up plays, giving the pep talks, verifying assignments and doing the talking. We won't deny that Summitt can be considered the greatest coach in the history of women's college basketball...the record speaks for itself. Her failure to advance teams loaded with All-American talent and highly ranked in the polls over the last two seasons into the Final Four,  though... raises questions in our minds about her current effectivness.

Jeff Walz is a highly motivated, "roll up the sleeves and go to work" game manager. He's also one of the brightest young coaches in the NCAA Women's College game. , His assistants are skilled and knowledgable, don't misunderstand us here...and add greatly to the excellent Louisville program. Walz is on top of it, though. Watch him, sometime...on the sidelines. Body language, to us...indicates that Pat tends to rely on hysterics and double takes instead of player instructions. Just our opinion, of course.

Smith would play in the brand new, state of the art KFC YUM Center, if she chooses Louisville. It is a showcase for college basketball. The fervor and support of the Louisville Lady Cards fan base is an incredible, remarkable entity. UT's is also, but it is an established, older support group. Louisville's continues to grow astronomically each year and could very well lead the nation in attendance next basketball season...based on the recent success of the Louisville program and the constant talk about the Lady Cards. Even as we are now in the post season, fans rave about the excitement they experienced watching the Louisville women in the BIG EAST and in the downtown arena.

The BIG EAST is another selling factor, Ms.Smith. It is, without a question, the best conference in women's college basketball in terms of competiton, team strength and fan support. They sent nine schools to the NCAA Women's Tournament this year. Compare that to the four that were selected from the SEC. To be the best, it makes sense to play against the best.

Deciding on a college is tough enough, without adding the pressures of being one of the top ten graduating seniors in girls high school basketball. We know that the journey is one that you must go through carefully again as you re-enter the decision process. Jeff Walz isn't going anywhere. Neither is the Louisville fan base or the strength of the BIG EAST. If competition and overcrowding don't bother you...and that isn't a deterrent...then Louisville is the place where you can get some serious rewards for your work ethic. We'll "see ya", Bria...hopefully in the Red and Black...
.

4 comments:

  1. This is well written, and oh, so true! Great article. I hope it got to Bria in more ways than one. I love the Lady Cards!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Agreed. Whatever Summit has been in the past, she is currently a joke. She doesn't coach, and her halftime "inspirational speeches" that the media adores are lame. The best line from halftime during the OSU game that ESPN played over and over again: "You make me sick to my stomach." That's motivational? Here's a challenge for CC readers: Take that awe-inspiring sentence from Pat and restate it more colorful terms. Winner gets a college head coach job.
    Here's my entry: "You maggots make me want to puke my f**king guts out."
    Anyone else?
    -PDX Phil

    ReplyDelete
  3. While we're on the subject of coaches, let me say one thing about Walz: The guy can flat-out coach. I say this as someone who has no alligence or affiliation with Louisville (check out my prevoius posts - I'm just here for the Schimmel era), so I think I'm pretty objective about the coaching. The measure of a coach is how much a team improves under his/her guidance. The Ville improved immensely during the season; the proof is in the two games against Xavier. More proof: He got Shoni to cut down on her mistakes without stifling her creativity or destroying her confidence (remember her behind-the-back move in the one-on-three break against the Zags?) Shoni would never have dared to try that if she played for Tenn, b/c if she had missed, Summit would have benched her and thrown up on her. Finally,Walz is a great game coach b/c, as CC noted, he tells players specifically what they need to do differently during the game in order to succeed. A great coach must be a great teacher, and that's what Walz is.
    --PDX Phil

    ReplyDelete
  4. We were a bit under-enthused about Summitt's remarks and Mickie DeMoss's 'Orange Crush' speech before the Notre Dame game. Didn't make us sad at all to see the Irish crush the Vols.

    My favorite motivational tactic of all time occured years ago when I played high school basketball. One of our better players...Brad... was having a absolutely horrible first half. When we hit the locker room at halftime, he went to sit down on the bench...but Coach told him to follow him. He led him into one of the bathroom stalls, told him to sit in there during halftime...because he played like...well, you know...and closed the stall door on him. We were stunned as coach stodd outside the stall door and explained to him that "poop" belonged in a toilet and not out on his basketball court.

    Then coach lit into the rest of us for the ten or so minutes we were in the locker room...every once in awhile he would yell..."Brad, give it a flush! Get it all out of your system!"

    Brad came out and played much better in the final two quarters...we still laugh about that whenever we see each other.

    ReplyDelete

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