THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-They said it...
-A look at the numbers...
(Post game comments from Shoni Schimmel, Bria Smith, Terri Mitchell and Jeff Walz following the 70-53 Louisville win Tuesday night.)
Shoni on returning to BIG EAST play:
"Coming into the game, it was the most we've ever done on a scout of an opponent. It was a big game for us. It was at home, our second BIG EAST game...it was one we had to get under our belts for BIG EAST competition. We were excited because it was the BIG EAST and we were ready to compete."
Shoni on rebounding improvements:
"I would say we have improved. We boxed out better tonight and that got us boards. They (Marquette) only had 11 offensive boards so that was good for us."
Shoni on guards carrying the scoring early:
"We just play and whoever is open should score. That's just the way it works. We worked the inside/out game because we knew they were going to come in on us defensively...so we kicked it out and it worked."
Bria on her strong second half:
"I felt like our defense picked up and with defense comes offense."
Shoni on shutting down Marquette's Katherine Plouffe:
"She was the main key to their team. She's been a great player all year, last year too. We followed the scouting report, learned how to play her. Our posts did a great job on her. We executed on defense and that helped our offense."
Shoni on the UofL slow start to the game.
"It was just a matter of getting into the groove. We haven't played a game in a while. Since last year...( Laughter on the podium and in the press...). "
Shoni on the layoff between games:
"We did two-a-days in practice and I think that was good for us. It was a lot of work and it helped us today."
HEAD MARQUETTE COACH TERRI MITCHELL'S OPENING POST GAME STATEMENT:
"I thought our team had a lot of fight. I thought we played hard. Their (UofL's) press was slowing us up. On possessions, we weren't aggressive enough. I thought that in the game...I don't know how many times or if anybody took count...how many times we got them down to the last couple of seconds on the clock and they scored. Five? Really? I thought it was more like ten. Maybe I'm exaggerating. And, that's what a good team does. We could play smart defense and we didn't finish it. It broke our spirit near the end. Then, we're playing catch-up and taking some ill-advised shots.
Louisville played well. We have to rebound from this one quickly and get ready for Seton Hall."
Mitchell on Louisville shutting down Katherine Plouffe...
"Fouls. She was out of the game because she fouled. What they did was press us and we hung out in the back court way too long. And then...we were able to get sets. We are a set team...into our sets and offense. I think we're really good when we set screens and get the ball inside. The credit goes to Louisville for what they did and making it a game where we couldn't get set up on our offense. On the other end, we played good defense for 25 seconds and they took it to us the final 5 seconds. You can't win that way. They were patient and waiting for the right situation and right person. We've got young people out there - they're trying to grow up."
Mitchell on the KFC YUM! CENTER...
It's a great environment. Great place to play. A good basketball arena. It's loud. At the Al McGuire Center we don't sell alcohol. (Chuckling) So, we're seeing a lot of alcohol signs. You could feel the great support, the crowd was really into it. A classy place. I'm glad it's in the BIG EAST and a place we get to come and play. I've told our girls...it's the BIG EAST. You're going to play in full and tough arenas on the road. You have to come ready to play. One thing about this team. They don't take losing lightly. They'll be fired up for Seton Hall and play better and erase this loss from their memory.
Mitchell on takeaways from this game...
"We need better penetration. We need to finish on defense. We have to rebound better. Take care of the ball better. Our turnovers were careless. We had people hiding out there tonight and they need to be more aggressive and get the ball..."
UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE HEAD COACH JEFF WALZ...
Walz on the layoff and practicing...
"We put in the work pretty hard. We have things to improve on. Our passing, our ball-handling. Tonight we turned the ball over only 14 times. I think that if you go back over the last five years..there's probably less than 10 times we've turned the ball over less than 14 times. I was pleased with that. When you play the style and pace we try to play, you're going to have turnovers."
Walz on game strategy...
"Our strategy tonight was to focus on the post players for Marquette. I was really impressed on film with Plouffe, Simmons and Ojulu. I really thought their post players were a big part of their game. We sent Ojulu to the foul line eight times. For a freshman, she does a great job getting to the line. On the season she's averaging about eight free throws a game, more than anyone on our team. Simmons is a terrific player, one of the best in our league. She does a great job playing within their system but she also takes advantage of opportunities to create one-on-one's. She's a handful...hard to guard.
Walz on Bria Smith...
Bria played well in the second half. She wasn't quite herself in the first half. I was really pleased with the way she picked it up. She was 6 for 15 from the field and missed three layups...one uncontested one in the second half after a steal...but that's just growing pains. The things I talked with her about...I was really pleased she turned the ball over only one time tonight. In a perfect world, Tia Gibbs is still playing and Bria has a chance to watch someone and be groomed by a very talented player. Tia's not going to score twenty a night but she understands the game so well. What I planned on was Bria going out there and playing at the same time as Tia. Now, there's a lot more responsibility thrown on Bria. I think she's responded well for a freshman and I'm just really excited to see her game continue to grow."
Walz on the final minutes when Louisville pulled away...
"You know..they're (Marquette) playing hard. They're down to eight players right now and I think fatigue gradually kind of set it. And, they got into some foul trouble, so they weren't really able to get into a flow. (Guard Gabi) Minix does a great job for them at the point, they had to sit her down for three or four minutes. It's hard right now for them and I completely understand..we're going through some of those pains ourselves. For us right now, what I'm trying to find is players that will step up on a consistent basis. When we go up to St. John's it wouldn't surprise me if Sara Hammond, Antonita Slaughter and Shawnta Dyer play 18 plus minutes. Right now, I'm judging a lot of who I put out in there in a the game by what they get done in practice. I'd just like to see some consistency... It's a growing experience and we've got a lot of young players. It's a game by game thing. You've got to make sure your kids are prepared to play. "
Walz on the rebounding effort...
"I was pleased. Tonight I thought we did a nice job of boxing out and held them to 11 offensive boards....which is a good number with their size. We're trying to preach to our kids right now about second chance points. We've got to get between 14 and 20 every night if we are going to be good. You've got to be able to score off the stick backs. Unfortunately for us, we're just not finishing them. So we've got to get out focus..when you've got a clean look at the basket, finish it. If there is someone in front of you, kick the ball back out and don't try to force it up."
Walz on attendance...
"You know tonight something I thought was great was what was going on tonight. For us to get over 8000...our men are on TV at the same time we're playing, and UK's men draw 14,700 at Freedom Hall. I think it shows a lot about women's basketball in this city that the #2 team in the nation draws only 6,000 more than we do. It says a lot about our program and a lot about our fans and I'm very appreciative of the great fans we have here."
(Just as a side note, we waited over five minutes for Terri Mitchell to make remarks. After she didn't show, it was decided to let the UofL players answer questions first. They did, and then Walz began to comment after the players, as is his custom. Mitchell finally showed up during Jeff's first minutes at the podium, so he gallantly stepped down and let her speak. She came in muttering about "whatever happened to allowing visiting coaches to speak first? We've got to get to the airport. We've got a plane to catch..." Walz later apologized for "cutting in line" to speak...but the real fault here lies in Mitchell's tardiness to the podium and Marquette's WBB S.I.D's inability to communicate that delay to the UofL folks... PAUL was all ready to take the podium and sing some Skynyrd and Allman Brothers...fortunately it didn't drop to such lowly depths...)
Louisville played ten of the eleven available players on the bench against Marquette. Becky Burke had 38 minutes, Shoni 34, Bria 31, Asia 20, Sherrone 19, Jude 17, Cierra 16, Shawnta 12, Sara 7 and Nita 6. The Cardinal freshmen saw 56 minutes and the reserves played a total of 58 minutes.
Louisville got a perfect free throw performance from Asia Taylor who went 4-4. Bria Smith went 4-5, as did Cierra Warren. Shawnta Dyer was 1-2 and Becky Burke and Shoni Schimmel missed their only free throw attempts.
Marquette went a painful 4-18 for 22.2% effort from three point range, Gabi Minix hitting 3 for 5. Arlesia Morse, leading three point threat on the Golden Eagles, was 0-5 and Sarina Simmons 1-6. They didn't fare much better on two point attempts either...going 11-29.
Becky Burke led Louisville in steals with four. Bria Smith had three, Shoni lifted two and Shawnta and Cierra pilfered one each.
With the win, Louisville is now 14-9 against Marquette all time. Walz improves to 4-1 against Terri Mitchell and the Cards have won the last two in a row. The Cards are 2-0 in BIG EAST play, one of eight undefeated teams so far in the BIG EAST. Louisville's six game win streak is tied for third best in the BIG EAST, behind Georgetown's 11 in a row, Notre Dame's 10 straight and tied with DePaul's 5.
The Cards are one of six teams ranked in the top 25 at 13th.or 14th. depending on the pollster. UConn (2/2), Notre Dame (3/3) and Rutgers (10/11)are ahead of them and Georgetown (15/16) and DePaul (20/19) right behind them.
Overall, 15 of the 16 BIG EAST teams had .500 or better records going into Tuesday night competition, with Seton Hall (7-8) the lone sub par unit.
(Join us tomorrow with David Watson's comments - who knows what about...he never warns us - and we'd like to know if our two contributing writers are still alive, e-mail us if you know the whereabouts of Jenny or Sandra.)