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Monday, December 26, 2011

As Cards enter 2012, chemistry the key...

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MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

-Team play, consistency key for Lady Cards successes in 2012

A quick look at the the University of Louisville women's basketball team's roster for 2011-12 roster shows a wide variety of intended majors for the players. A economics major, physical education, sports management. Nursing, health and human performance...still several undecideds. No chemistry majors, however...and this is the area that Coach Walz would probably like all the players to get extra credit hours in.

Not so much off the court. Their bonding trip to the west coast and Canada is well documented. Going over the confidence-training course at Fort Knox, too. They seem to be a close-knit and tight, fun-loving group in public appearances and fan greetings.

They're almost at the point where they aren't
freshmen anymore...
When it comes to the 40 minutes that they'll spend on the court in the remaining 16 regular season games, though...the aspect of chemistry and team play need to be stressed and taken to the top of the list. They're the most important challenges Louisville will need to master as they jump into BIG EAST play.

(We haven't forgotten that UofL has one game remaining in 2011...against a Tenn.-Martin opponent that could be challenging...but we're looking at this one as the final dress rehearsal, the last tuning of the engine before they access the Autobahn of women's college basketball - the BIG EAST. Blink twice and you're down eight points...Fail to block out and the ball is going in the hoop for the girls in the other jerseys.)

Was it Mr.Spock who said..'the needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the one?'
So, where and how do these guide points develop? True, the Cards have lost two natural leaders in Tia Gibbs and Monique Reid. There are plenty of returning cast members, however, who are capable and knowledgeable enough to pick up the reins and guide the wagon down the path. We'll start with Becky Burke and Shoni Schimmel. Burke's the sole remaining active player on the roster who spent several days in St. Louis chasing the national title. She knows the system, knows the players and can draw them together to play as a unit. The world knows Shoni Schimmel. We've seen her as the floor general on many occasions over the past two years...making suggestions to her court mates, getting players into position and taking over games as the scorer and motivator. There's a "stop Shoni" master plan out there that Lady Cards opponents will employ in future games. Louisville needs to turn that into a "watch Shoni and her teammates beat you" mode of operation.

These two stars aren't enough, though. There are five players out there for a combined 200 minutes each game. We've seen good things out of freshman Bria Smith after 13 games. It's around that time of year when freshmen no longer become freshmen and need to lead instead of follow. We think she can handle this just as easily as she accelerates with that blinding first step and heads to the baseline.

Cierra Warren, Asia Taylor, Shawnta Dyer, Sherrone Vails, Nita Slaughter and Sara Hammond need to become a collective wrecking crew inside the paint for the Cards as well. Walz seems to play them in "twos" at times...Dyer and Warren replacing Taylor and Vails. Slaughter and Hammond spell either group. There can be no drop off in intensity and performance when "the wheels are changed" on the machine.

Walz will tell you he has no "mop up" crew on this team. What he needs to develop is strong combinations that can "wash down" opponents no matter who is on the court. We've seen late game drop-offs in performance when Louisville enjoys a comfortable lead. This needs to end. After Tennessee-Martin, the days of comfortable leads at end of games will be few and far between.

If JFK had been a huge WBB fan, he might
have said..."Ask not what your team can do
for you...ask what you can do for your team."
Chemistry and teamwork also come from knowing what works and doesn't. Pepsi doesn't taste like your local grocer's brand cola for a reason. One wouldn't put spaghetti sauce on their cereal. This is where Walz comes into play. Finding and using the right combination of girls at the right time. Using those combinations effectively and getting the most out of them. Putting the items in the blender and making a great mixture out of them. He's been a master chef at UofL for
five years. Time to don the apron and hit the
kitchen again.

The principals of fascism are that...as seperate sticks, we are easily broken. As a bundle, though, we are not. We're not suggesting the Lady Cards don brown shirts and resort to terror and intimidation factors, mind you. We're just mindful of the theory that united we stand, divided we fall. Team play, not brilliant individual performances, wins games.

How good a quarterback would
Aaron Rodgers be without a
line to block for him?
Aaron Rodgers, of the Green Bay Packers, is one of the best quarterbacks in pro football. He wouldn't be so good, however...if he didn't have a solid group of receivers to throw to, a line to block for him and a running game to help advance the ball and keep defenses honest. Team work.

As fans, we're in for a wild ride over these next sixteen games. Nine in the YUM! Center and seven on the road. Six national TV appearances. Fortunate scheduling in that Notre Dame, Connecticut and DePaul have to come here to Louisville. Tough tests at Rutgers and Georgetown away from the Downtown Arena. Out of the final sixteen opponents, five are in the top 25. Several others are knocking at that door. It's the BIG EAST. Nothing comes easy.

At 11-2 currently, the Cards need to win half of their remaining games to be a viable contender for post-season NCAA Tournament play. There are some close first and second round sites for the tournament this year...Nashville, South Bend, West Lafayette and Bowling Green (OH) are all within a six hour drive. The possibilities are there, the ingredients all on the counter ready for usage.

The mixing and blending remains...it's said that too many chefs can ruin the soup, but a great kitchen staff working together can create an unforgettable meal.

Which one of these options will come out of the Cardinal kitchen for 2012?

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We're off to Charlotte for UofL football bowl action the next couple of days. We'll try to give you a few "on the road" reports and our staff of writers remaining in the 'Ville will keep you in the loop. Tomorrow, we'll look at the Lady Cards next opponent...Tennessee-Martin.
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1 comment:

  1. Cheer them on in Charlotte, Cardinal Couple. Will be watching and cheering on TV. Go Cards!

    Hank

    ReplyDelete

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