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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Basketball stars meet in the 'Ville

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WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


-Jenny reviews Elite Skills Camp


-Stephanie Norman promoted to associate coach


( It's Wednesday and Jenny holds court here at Cardinal Couple. She gives us her take on the Elite Skills Camp last week. Did you know you can follow her on Twitter? 
Find her at @uoflwomynfan for updates on the Cards. 
Cardinal Couple is there, too at @Cardinalcouple.)  


Last Thursday there was plenty of heat and star power in Cardinal Arena attending the Elite Skills Camp hosted by Coach Jeff Walz and the University of Louisville.  “Stars galore” as Paul noted after his write up last Thursday.

On the day, no stars were bigger than Mercedes Russell.  As the #1 recruit in the nation, you would expect nothing less.  The kid can flat out play.   Having followed her over the course of the last year and half watching videos and reading scout reports it was nice to see her in live action.  She did not disappoint. 

During the skills sections of the camp she was able to replicate post moves being taught immediately.   She looked fluid with the ball, driving to the basket; she also was hitting 12-15 footers consistently.  Most impressive on the day, though, was game time play under the basket.  Often with two or three defenders on her, she made it look so easy.  Around the rim, she was unstoppable.  Very impressive!  Defensively, she blocked, easily, 7-9 shots.   I quit counting.  What I did not see consistently, though, was speed getting up and down the court.  At first I was a little unimpressed in that regard.  No worries Cardinal Fans, I saw at least one moment where Russell obviously kicked it in to another gear, running down court, seemingly getting beaten by a driving Becca Greenwell.  The switch seemed automatic, and she accelerated into another gear.  What I surmised from this experience is that as good as I thought Russell was on the day, I am not even sure we saw her at full tilt.   I saw a flash of a higher gear, and by day's end, I felt certain she was in low gear with so much more she could give, in real game time environment. 


Cardinal Fans, this is one very special player.  We know from media reports we are in the race to land Russell.  We also know Tennessee and North Carolina are right there with us.  I look for an official visit from Russell back to the ‘Ville in the fall before she makes her final college choice before the high school season starts.  Coach Jeff Walz and the women’s basketball program are ready to make history with this recruit.  Let’s all hope we are the University she feels best fits her needs.    

Becca Greenwell and Makayla Epps were also in attendance.  Both looked strong and consistent.  Having covered them here in the past, I am not going to give them much time here than to say they are impressive and top notch recruits.   Epps sat out most of the last hour of the clinic with ice on her knee.  Whatever the nagging knee issue, I hope she is able to get it cleared up. 

There were several campers that stood out to me, and caught my eye.  Below is a list of those kids and what I liked about them.



2014

Mychal Johnson is a point guard out of West Virginia.  I was excited to see her because I have been following scouting reports on her and all indicators are she is an elite player in this class.   Currently Hoopgurlz ranks her #21 in the class of 2014.   Johnson showed great ball handling skills.  I was also impressed with the use of her slender frame to get to the basket and finish a play.  She consistently used her body... bumping inside and finishing plays.   According to a tweet from her father, Scott Johnson, also a coach with her AAU Club West Virginia Thunder, Johnson left the clinic with a scholarship offer from Coach Walz.  Keep your eye out for Mychal Johnson Cardinal Fans, as she is another elite prospect with an offer. 

Erica Moore out of Mount Vernon , IN was by far my favorite player of the day!  With a strong, muscular, athletic frame, this forward got it done all over the court.  She was banging it up inside, ripping down rebounds, going rim to rim on a fast break consistently finishing, as well as starting the fast break and having great down court vision and making the pass.  During the skills portion of the clinic she was hitting 12-15 ft. shots and dropping back to hit the three.  She is a threat all over the court.  I was highly, highly impressed.  I loved watching this kid play ball!  Keep your eye out for this player.  I am not sure if Louisville is involved with her recruiting, but it is my hope that we are.   Moore was my MVP for the day and I can not say enough about how she impressed me on the day.  


Cardinal faithful, you heard her name here first, at Cardinal Couple.     


2015

Alexis Robinson, a guard out of Ashland, KY, was impressive with the ball.  She had great athleticism and was very quick.   With her speed and excellent ball handling this youngster still has plenty of time to further her already good game.  One of several players from the AAU club of West Virginia Thunder, Scott Johnson also confirmed that she left camp with an offer to play at Louisville.  Cardinal Fans, this is another in-state kid that Coach Walz is going after.  Keep her on your radar.  She is young and has a long recruiting process ahead of her. 

Nora Kiesler is a local player out of Assumption high school.  Upwards of 6-5/6-6 this post player has the potential to be a very good player.  She was at the camp several weeks ago, and honestly, she stood out more this go round, even with greater competition on the court alongside her.  She found herself in match ups with Mercedes Russell on several occasions.  She did not back down.  She has work ahead of her to develop her game, but as a sophomore she has time to get stronger and in better shape.  If she keeps improving her game she is going to be a force in the paint. 

2016

Nicole Ekhomu is a point guard just heading in to high school out of Bolingbrook, Il.  She is a powerful, athletic ball handler who played beyond her young years, with the competition on the court.  She was steady with the ball, quick, and very dangerous on the fast break.   According to scouting reports on-line she is a fearless defender, though I did not see a lot of that on this particular day.  Her athleticism stood out the most.  According to a tweet from Bret McCormick of All Stars Girls Report, Ekhomu already holds an offer from Louisville prior to this camp.  (I was not aware of this going in to the day). 


There were over 50 kids at this camp.  These kids played hard for 4 long hours.  I was impressed with their efforts on the day. The age ranges were from a rising 6th grader to the best in the class of rising seniors. The kids played hard and appeared to get the most out of their time with the program. From all appearances it was a great day with a wealth of talent on the court. 


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"Wanna start a website, dear? Yeah...
why not?" 
Cardinal Couple passes a huge milestone today!   Today’s column is the 1000th post covering women’s athletics at U of L.  Congratulations to Paul and Sonja for maintaining a website that devotes most of its entirety to women’s athletics.  Cardinal fans we are very, very lucky to have the Couple!   With so much of women’s athletics not covered at all, to the “lucky” teams who get back page coverage in the Sports section with a mention in a small paragraph, Cardinal Couple is devoted to keeping the Cardinal faithful abreast of all women’s sports at U of L.  Thank you, Paul and Sonja for your devotion, and for allowing me to share my passion of women’s basketball with your readership.   My glass is raised in cheer, for another 1000 posts with greater readership along the way!  


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(Editor's Note)


We appreciate the kind words, Jenny. Hard to believe that on a snowy day in January of 2010, we left the safety and comfort of writing for other sites and started C.C. We've seen it grow from a tiny tot to a full-fledged, man-child that is read all around the world. Over 2500 hits a day and getting bigger each month. 


We pledge to you, our readers, to continue and try to present this humble website as the fan voice for UofL women's sports. We are also grateful to have the talents of Jenny, Sandra, David and Mark writing for us. We couldn't ask for any better.


Last but not least, we thank you...the reader. Without you, none of this would have been possible. Keep sending those e-mails, comments and suggestions. You are as much of CARDINAL COUPLE as any of us...and we appreciate and cherish you! 


--Paul and Sonja


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Coach Norman is the only remaining
coach for Jeff Walz's original staff
at Louisville. (Besides Jeff...)
Congratulations to UofL WBB coach Stephanie Norman on being promoted to associate coach level! Coach "Steph" has put in the hours and helped build the program to it's current level of success. 


Couldn't help but notice the hard work and teaching she was providing to the players during the Elite Skills camp last Thursday. 

Seems like time has flown by since the announcement that a young assistant from Maryland would be leading the Cards in the 2007-08 season. Stephanie is the only assistant (now associate) left from that original staff...Michelle Clark-Heard now the head coach at WKU and Bethann Ord the head coach at Weber State. 


With her valuable assistance, the Cardinal recruiting classes have been in the top ten since she arrived here and we are confident that isn't going to change.


Enjoy the fourth of July, readers and also the freedoms that come with being in a country where independence is a reality and not a dream. 
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12 comments:

  1. Jenny

    Great article with one fault. It was too short as I wanted to continue reading for at least another 10 pages or so.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Paul/Sonja
    Happy 1000 + with many more great posts to come. Others have come and gone just as many of the current rash of new sites will do.

    Those who truly represent women's sports are always welcome as there will never be too many good posts and articles about women's sports.

    Keep up the efforts, please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazing that both of you came up with the same exact post! Wait till you see our next venture...pay-per-view chimp bobsledding!

      Paulie

      Delete
  3. Paul/Sonja
    Happy 1000 + with many more great posts to come. Others have come and gone just as many of the current rash of new sites will do.

    Those who truly represent women's sports are always welcome as there will never be too many good posts and articles about women's sports.

    Keep up the efforts, please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! We are fortunate to have a brilliant writing staff, great readers and a subject to cover daily that never gets boring. And to think that I wanted to start a website about growing tomatoes...

      Paulie

      Delete
  4. Hey CARDINAL COUPLE! Congratulations on 1000 posts! Keep them coming. Happy 4th of July CARDINAL COUPLE readers!

    -- Joe Hill --

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joe! More on the way, we can promise you that. We're so excited that we're going to let CoCo and Cletus run the annual fireworks show at Bob the Electrician's place later tonight. Fire prevention districts, you have been warned...

      Paulie

      Delete
  5. Who are the top Jefferson County girls basketball players in the 2013 class?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Five players to keep an eye on in Louisville area in the 2013 class (in no particular order or ranking)

      China Dow - Christian Academy
      Aaeron Smith - Ballard
      Kelsey Adwell - PRP
      Terra Banks - Ballard
      Whitney Hartlage - Mercy

      This is Jenny's realm and she can probably expand on the list above.

      Paulie

      Delete
    2. Also of great note Jody Demling's rankings of the Kentucky 2013 Girl's class here: http://blogs.courier-journal.com/jodydemling/2012/06/26/rankings-kentucky-girls-class-of-2013/

      (Louisville players listed)
      1. China Dow (CAL)
      2. Kayla Stlyes (Manual)
      3. Kelsey Adwell (PRP)
      4. Terra Banks (Ballard)
      5. Whitney Hartlage (Mercy)
      6. Aaeron Smith (Butler)

      Delete
    3. You can find Donny's site on Kentucky High School Sports in our Sites We Recommend category on the left side of the site.

      Paulie

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

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