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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lady Cards not quite in the BIG EAST elite





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TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

- The Watson report -- Lady Cards still climbing the BIG EAST ladder.

(David Watson sends us his impressions on the Notre Dame game. As usual, he's going to upset a few of you and others will e-mail us calling him a stinking genius. Either way, he's never boring.)

I watched the UofL vs. Notre Dame women's basketball game yesterday with excited interest. Another chance to prove their mettle against a quality opponent. #4 Notre Dame. A big crowd in the KFC YUM! Center at 2 p.m. on a Monday afternoon. 13,000 + -- which is remarkable, amazing and a tribute to the fervent and fanatical fan base that follow these girls.

I originally planned to do a TV viewing of this contest. But, as Sunday night drew to a close, I made the decision to be there. My wife was encouraging, 2 out of my 3 children signed on board for the trip and off we went Monday mid-morning -- making sure we had time to hit our favorite downtown pizza parlor before the contest. (Paul won't let me mention the establishment's name on here anymore. He says it's free advertising for them. It's his site -- so I comply.)

By the time we got inside the KFC YUM! Center and settled into our end zone seats -- not far from a good sized group of Notre Dame fans -- the crowd was rocking and pep band blaring.

My daughter and I talked about watching her favorite player, Skylar Diggins. My son talked about the LadyBirds. Yes, he's reached that age.

We saw Mo Reid and Tia Gibbs chatting, autographing and generally enjoying the atmosphere. I sent Paul a text, inquiring as to his gameday whereabouts. I got a terse reply:

Guarding the pep band. Behind the cheerleaders. On the end of the row, making sure Muffet gets to the locker room safely.

Then, it began.

It seemed like eternity before Asia Taylor got the Lady Cards on the scoreboard. And, then Walz pulled her from the game. Shoni was firing blanks, McBride and Mallory couldn't miss -- but the Cards were hanging tough. Novosel hadn't arrived at the arena yet -- some imposter in her uniform was having a rough time of it. The guy in front of us was convinced that Notre Dame was fouling every time they went on defense. I didn't know the BIG EAST had a training policy for future referees that could be completed from the stands.

The first half came to a close and hope still existed. I'm not sure who Walz got to replace Nita Slaughter a few weeks ago but I love the new version. She's BIG EAST tough and doesn't back down. Down by 3, the crowd cheering every possesion and Novosel still not off the bus and in the arena.

After a $18 trip to the concession stand and returning with nothing substantial, I limped back to the seats and the second half began. Novosel must have found a back entrance and snuck in the arena. The Louisville players were trying way too hard to avoid any eye-contact with Shoni and letting her dribble, drive, shoot and operate the shot clock. Stem cell research being what it is -- someone needs to get in the UofL science labs and create four or five of her pronto.

It began to get away from the Lady Cards. Still hopeful, but realizing that Notre Dame was not intimidated by the crowd or the Cardinal defense.

Peters had her swagger back. So did Diggins. Double digits overtook the Lady Cards and Walz was pleading with his charges to play solid defense and hit some shots. At least I think that was what he was saying.

What did we learn from the 68-52 Notre Dame win?

1) Louisville is still a member of the not-ready-for-prime time BIG EAST elite. Granted, the girls are trying as hard as they can, there are flashes of brilliance and Schimmel is a top 5 BIG EAST guard -- even when the shots won't fall. Watching the execution of the Irish offense, though --especially in the second half -- was a pleasure. Players knowing where to be, responding to court actions and knocking down clutch shots. Something the Lady Cards could be with a little more practice, experience and paitence.

2) This Louisville squad will be amazing next year. Add Monique Reid and Tia Gibbs back to four current starters, throw in some great bench role players, three talented new additions, a ton of experience and maturity for the whole team and -- voila! -- you have a legitimate top 10, Final Four, Doris Burke and Kara Lawson raving type of team.

3) When Shoni's off --she's really off. It's the shooter's code. You keep putting them up. They're going to fall eventually.

It's Tuesday afternoon. I hope they're starting to go through the net, because she got impeached on President's Day.

What will the final two regular season games and tournaments yield for the second youngest team in the BIG EAST? I see them at 9-7 going into the BIG EAST Tournament. A loss to DePaul Saturday in The Bucket and a closer than expected road win at Seton Hall. A #8 seed in the BIG EAST Tournament...which means they'll get a one day bye and then have to face the winner of #9 vs. #16. Rugters or DePaul maybe? They bow out after one game and wait to see where the selection committee places them in the BIG DANCE. I'll venture a guess and say a #7 seed. They aren't the #14 best team in the nation, even if they sweep DePaul, Seton Hall and get to the finals of the BIG EAST Tournament.

But, what do I know?

And, then -- it's the waiting game. Knowing those fuddy-duddy's on the selection committee, they'll send the Cards to Spokane again. Or Bangkok or Prussia. Can't have flocks of Cardinal fans invading a home court favorite like Xavier was last year and upsetting the mortal lock, can we?

It's hard to believe this regular season is almost over. Seems like yesterday we were reading accounts about the Lady Cards getting ready for their pre-season Oregon and Canada trip. It's been way too much fun and despite the setbacks and heartbreaks -- another good season for Walz's Warriors.

Someday they'll breath the rarefied air of the BIG EAST Top Four and return to NCAA Final Four Madness again.

It's just isn't going to happen this March.

( David Watson made the trip to St. Louis for the Cards Final Four appearance. How he got past border security to get in Missouri and back out still mystifies us...)
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1 comment:

  1. Based on current BIG EAST rankings, the four double bye qualifiers look to be Notre Dame, UConn for sure and then either St.John's, Georgetown, West Virginia or DePaul. The West Virginia vs. St. John's game tonight will go a long way in determining those final two spots in the top four.

    Teams 5-8 look like they'll come from one of the three above, DePaul, Rutgers and Louisville. They get a one game bye.

    9-16 play on Friday (opening day) next week. If they played it today it would be #9 USF vs. #16 Seton Hall, #10 Cincinnati vs. #15 Pittsburgh, #11 Syracuse vs. #14 Marquette and #12 Villanova vs. #13 Providence.

    Teams with two games left are Louisville, Notre Dame, Georgetown, USF, Villanova and Providence.

    I think the Lady Cards go in as seventh ranked and face the winner of #10 vs. #15. I think they'll get Syracuse. Winner of that one would face #2 on Sunday. Either Notre Dame or UConn.

    Just some speculation. Anything can happen in these final seven days.

    ReplyDelete

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