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Thursday, December 22, 2011

WE look back....BIG EAST WBB prepares for Christmas Break

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THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE:

-We look back...Lady Cards vs. Vermont

-BIG EAST review

-HAPPY FESTIVUS!!

(With the Lady Cards off for a week, WE take this opportunity to look back at the past Lady Cards seasons...hop in the time machine with us and travel back to December 21st., 2008. WE set the dial for Freedom Hall...)

The Lady Cards were 9-1 going into the game against Vermont and ready for their Christmas break. Maybe a little too ready, as Dez Byrd mentioned after the game...

"Some of us had our bags packed in the locker room."

The foe was the Vermont Catamounts (5-4) and a festive holiday crowd of over 5,000 had showed up at Freedom Hall (remember, this is 2008) to watch the Lady Cards play and probably romp the America East conference foe. After all, it was Vermont...right?

"It was a lack of focus. I thought we were going too fast. We were more anxious than they were." senior Candyce Bingham commented after the game...a contest Louisville eventually ended up winning 67-55.

Byrd and Bingham led the Cards to the 12 point win, surviving an off night by Louisville star Angel McCoughtry..who totaled just 12 points and played only 24 minutes...saddled with foul trouble.

Second year Lady Cards coach Jeff Walz took the high road when discussing the game after the win.

"It's very encouraging. Dez, for the progress she's made from our exhibition game to now is remarkable. I'd put her up there with anybody in our league at point guard. She's still got some things to learn...but for a kid who's never played the point...I'm really pleased with how far she's come."

Louisville took the early lead against Vermont and held on to it, despite sloppy play and McCoughtry only getting two points in 13 minutes. It was 27-18 and the Lady Cards were beginning to realize that the Catamounts weren't going gently into that good night.

The Catamounts made an early second half charge at Louisville, using a second half run of 9-4 to cut the Cardinal advantage to 31-27 with 16:38 left
in the game. The Cards knew they had to pick the defense up and responded with a 12-1 run over the next four minutes to lead 43-28 with 12:36 remaining. The previously quiet McCoughtry was aiding Bingham and Byrd and Louisville's lead never dropped below ten points the rest of the way.

Louisville forced Vermont into 32 turnovers while committing 22 miscues. Byrd led Louisville with a game high 15 points and Candyce added 14. A freshman from Fern Creek High School added nine points for Louisville in 19 minutes - Monique Reid. McCoughtry had 10 second half points and was non-commital after the game.

"Shots weren't falling, I was pressing too hard, it wasn't a great game for me but we won and that's the objective."

Do you remember the Cardinal roster from back then? Reid and Becky Burke were on the team and are seniors this year. So was Gwen Rucker, who traded in her hoops jersey eventually to play volleyball. We've mentioned Byrd, Bingham and McCoughtry...here are the other players...

Keisha Hines was a sophomore center...seeing extended playing time due to the injury to Chauntise Wright.

Sharpshooting junior Brandie Radde was still on the squad...she would leave the team later in the season to concentrate on academics...but return midway through the next season to help out the roster depleted Lady Cards.

Janae Howard was a freshman on the squad. She left Louisville after her freshman year and embarked on a journey that would take her to Western Kentucky and eventually to St. Catherine College, where she currently plays.

Mary Jackson...a talented wing from Memphis...would also depart after that Final Four year and return to Memphis to play for the Tigers. She was on the roster last season and a some-time starter...but we've found no mention of her at Memphis in the 2011-12 season. A little help here, CARDINAL COUPLE readers?

Tiera Stephen was a freshman guard for Jeff Walz on the 2008-09 squad. She, too, transferred at the end of the year and is at Wisconsin...playing for the Badgers.

Angel McCoughtry...well whatever happened to her? Rumors are she's some kind of big-shot in the WNBA. (Ask anyone in Atlanta...).

Candyce Bingham was also drafted that year but failed to make the San Antonio squad. She's the head women's basketball coach at Fern Creek High School now. In her first year, her Tigers are currently 2-4. (Wonder if Mo Reid hobbles over there to coach from the bleachers...?)

Dez Byrd was injured in the NCAA Tournament that season, attempted a comeback after hip surgery, but left the Cardinal roster in the 2009-10 season. She's another one we've lost track of. Once again, help us out here CARDINAL COUPLE readers...if you have an update on her.

That 2008-09 squad would go on to win their next nine games before losing a BIG EAST match against #1 UConn. They'd finish 14-2 in the BIG EAST, losing only to West Virginia before entering BIG EAST play. UConn would defeat them in the BIG EAST TOURNAMENT finals and also in the NCAA Tournament National Championship game. They finished 34-5 and were ranked #2 in the nation in the final polls.

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Catching up on a little BIG EAST action...

From Wednesday:

PITT handled Michigan State 64-54 in Cancun
MARQUETTE downed Vermont 71-60 in Milwaukee
SETON HALL defends the home court by defeating William and Mary 71-60.
GEORGETOWN spanks visiting Miami (FL) 71-46.
CONNECTICUT visits and rolls past College of Charleston 72-24

Tonight

PROVIDENCE hosts Clemson
ST. JOHN travels to Harvard
VILLANOVA and Temple battle for Philadelphia supremacy
CINCINNATI welcomes Longwood
DEPAUL gets a visit from Southern Illinois.

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Serenity NOW!!!
HAPPY FESTIVUS! to Cardinal Couple Readers! Is your aluminum pole in the front yard? Are you ready to air your grievances around the table at the Festivus Dinner of meat loaf or spaghetti? Who will participate in the Feats of Strength after dinner? Will there be a Festivus miracle this year?

I hope you've been good this year, because Constanza is watching...
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