SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-Mercedes Russell: Louisville or Tennessee
The most highly sought after player in the class of 2013 has narrowed her college choices down to two schools. Mercedes Russell, a 6'5" post player from Springfield, Oregon, has announced that she'll be attending college at either Tennessee or Louisville.
Russell, the #1 player in the 2013 class, is scheduled to visit Louisville between Oct 26-28th. according to several CARDINAL COUPLE sources. Also touring the campus at that time will be Emmonie Henderson, whose stock has been rapidly rising in the 2013 class.
The UofL women's basketball team will be well into preseason practice by that time, so both girls will be able get a first hand view on how Jeff Walz and the Louisville coaches practice their trade.
A contrast in schools on Ms. Russell's list. Louisville...rapidly growing in fan base and national recognition...with the state of the art KFC YUM! Center as their home base and top 10 pre-season ranked program for 2012-13 season. An athletic director and associates committed to Title IX and growth in all sports on campus. Often recognized as the "best college sports town" in America, the school plays in the toughest conference in women's basketball...the BIG EAST.
Then there is Tennessee. Rocked by the retirement of legendary Pat Summitt. One of the few schools that give a fair footing to women's basketball in a conference known for SEC football and Kentucky men's basketball. Still with a large attendance base but mired in controversy over the combining of the men's and women's athletic departments and dismissal of key people in women's sports. Once powerful, the Lady Vols torch doesn't burn quite as brightly as in past years.
Russell is one of those few players that has the ability to be a program changer, a powerful paint-player who works well within a team concept and and take over a game at either end of the court.
She'd look awfully good in the Cardinal Red and Black.
( CARDINAL COUPLE has been preview the players on the 2012-13 squad. WE look at junior Sherrone Vails today.)
At 6'4", the Cardinal center is the tallest member of the team and seems to have the arm-span of a seven-footer. More often than not, Vails can be seen running out to Sean Moth's introduction as the starting center for the Cards and she's on every coaches' list as a shot-blocker and threat underneath the basket.
A member of the BIG EAST All-Freshman team in the 2010-11 season, Vails has a clearly defined role as one of Jeff Walz's regular front-line players. She's led Louisville in blocked shots since she arrived on campus.
Vails set the school record for blocked shots in a game with seven against Houston Baptist in her freshman year and also set the Louisville freshman record with 48 blocks.
Vails is not one-dimensional, however. Possessing a soft shot around the rim, she's a threat to score inside if the defense extends to cut off outside shooting. With her wide-span and height, she is an effective defender and has the ability to block out on both ends of the court.
As she enters her junior season at Louisville, she's the heir apparent to start in the post for the Cards and...despite averaging only 15 minutes per game as a Cardinal...her presence underneath the basket on both ends of the court can force an opposing coach to think twice about having guards penetrate the paint.
She probably won't be a scoring leader for Louisville this season, but will be an important part of a Cardinal front-line that uses rotation and substitutions effectively to ensure fresh players and alive legs are on the court at all times.
We can see Vails providing an important paint presence for the Cards and she is already 11th. all-time in blocked shots at UofL.
A phrase that Cardinal opponents may want to remember.
"Shooting inside against Vails...fails."
THE VAILS TALES:
GS GP MIN REBS BLOCKS PTS AVG
2011-12 26 33 14.4 76 33 103 3.1
2010-11 10 35 16.3 84 48 163 4.7
( Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with Sonja. Although I did very little as far as contributing to today's article, I did come up with the Vails' phrase. Have a great Sunday!)