MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
It was a smackdown in South Bend...Notre Dame taking a 10-point halftime lead and expanding it to a 93-64 whipping of the Lady Cards Monday night.
As Coach Walz mentioned in the post-game, if you don't rebound, defend or play with toughness...you're not going to win. All three were missing tonight.
We'll have the post-mortem in the Tuesday edition of CARDINAL COUPLE.
- Cards, Irish battle tonight in WBB
(Quentin Voigt brings us his views on the UND v. UofL matchup tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. Paulie follows with comments. Should be a good one!)
The owner of the impish smile, patrolling the sidelines of a game has the ideal name befitting the coach of the Fighting Irish. Although I've never had the chance to interview the legend, Muffet McGraw has never left the top spot on coaches I'd like to do an interview with. The 2001 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Trophy, runner-up last year, second in all-time wins and a perfect 100% graduation rate in 26 years at South Bend. I could go on and on.
To say she's tough under the lacquered finish requires hyperbole. Her knowledge of the game and will to win have been put hand-in-hand with the yearly battles with Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma. History-making battles.
We're lucky to have her on the sidelines. Coming out of a recruiting trip on September 11, 2001...she was slated to be on one of the airplanes that left Boston and ultimately ended up being hijacked into one of the World Trade Center towers.
She missed that flight. Fate? Divine providence? Sometimes, there are things that happen for a reason.
Her main tour-de-force is Skylar Diggins. All-Everything, Diggins averages 15.8 ppg and is the best guard in the BIG EAST, if not the nation. Natalie Achonwa grabs 9.1 rpg a contest for an Irish squad that rebounds very well. Notre Dame averages 19.6 assists a contest, 79.9 points, has 259 steals and 108 blocked shots. Jewel Loyd is a three-point threat.
I'm looking forward to watching and enjoying this one regardless of the outcome.
An epic battle tonight in many aspects. There are questions, yes...so many questions. At least from the fans that are anticipating this matchup. Can the three-headed defensive trio of Bria, Jude and Shelby slow down the "Digs"? Who will counteract Achonwa on the glass? Can the Cards go on the road, in a hostile environment and get a signature win? What color shirt will Jeff Walz wear?
To answer these, one by one...Probably not, nobody, doubtful and white with long sleeves.
So, how do you beat a team that has won 17 straight this season, is 22-1 and is fourth in the nation in scoring margin, third in scoring offense, second in the Associated Press Poll and has lost only once in seven games in the Jeff Walz era at UofL?
You take the air out of the basketball.
You borrow the Villanova vs. Notre Dame game film from Harry Perretta and study it like you're cramming for a mid-term sociology exam. Better yet, you buy the extended DVD version on Blue-Ray which shows how South Florida took them to overtime in a three-point loss and how Connecticut came in and downed them by one at the Joyce Center.
You hope Shoni doesn't have a 3 for 19 night, that Sara can stay out of early foul trouble and Nita shows the consistency she's displayed all season.
The Irish will come at you with unrelenting, hurricane force winds. Diggins, Loyd, McBride, Achonwa, Wright.
Any of these Irish would start anywhere in the nation and all five of them are capable of dropping 20 on you as easy as a chimp peels a banana.
You must weather the storm, create a disturbance of your own and hit free throws and layups (if you get any.)
You walk in with confidence. You are on a business trip. You don't get caught up in the 9,000 or so that will be cheering against you. You remained focused and composed. And...you pray.
The Irish came into the KFC YUM! Center last year and broke open a close first half with a 68-52 win. Gone are Peters, Novosel and Mallory, who accounted for 30 of those points...but the Cards shot a paltry 31% in that contest and went 2-16 from beyond the arc.
Louisville's last win over UND came during the magical 2008-09 season when they knocked off the Irish 71-66 in South Bend.
The whole women's basketball world will be watching tonight, courtesy of the four letter network's deuce channel providing the broadcast. Beth Mowins, who we like here at C.C., has the call. If Bonita Spence shows up as a ref on the court...I'm heading to Mulligans to drown my sorrows. If it's Dee Kanter, I'll send her an extra whistle via rush courier...
Are you ready, Lady Cards?
( We'll have a summation of the results after the contest here at CARDINAL COUPLE tonight and Sandy Walker takes a holiday from the laundry and will have a full-game report in the Tuesday edition of CARDINAL COUPLE. Go Cards! )