Saturday, February 2, 2013
Saturday Cardinal Couple -- The Walz Interview and pre-game Georgetown
SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
- The Coach Walz interview
- Georgetown preview from "Q" and "P"
( It's a long read today at CARDINAL COUPLE. But a good one. You have been warned.)
Coach Jeff Walz is a busy man. Our Friday interview with him is below. We were slightly delayed in the start of the actual interview time because of important things he had to take care of, he multi-tasked during the interview and had former Card great Becky Burke waiting to see him after we were done. It is, however, we think a great interview that takes a look at the man, the legend and the philosophies of the most successful women's basketball coach in Cardinal history. We appreciate the time he gave us...
CARDINAL COUPLE: You've had a couple of days to reflect on and watch some film from the huge win at USF. Your thoughts?
COACH WALZ: For the most part, I was really pleased with our effort. Not just our physical effort, but out mental effort. We did a really nice job of following a game plan. Those are the things we're trying to get accomplished as a staff. To get the players to do what we ask them to do. I thought they did a really nice job. USF's #10 came in the game and I told them...make her shoot the basketball. And she scores 11 in the first half, makes a big three right at halftime to cut it to a one-point game. In the locker room I told our players...hey, you did exactly what I told you to do, I'll take the blame. It's my fault. I tell them all the time, if you'll play hard and do what I ask...we can adjust to the next thing. And, I told them...USF has a problem over there now. Andrea Smith played 12 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. The freshman comes in and scores 11...which one are you playing now? I knew they weren't going to play both at the same time. So, they go with Andrea Smith, which I would have too, and the freshman ends up playing only two minutes in the second half.
Our game plan was to come out and do some different things defensively . All in all, I was really pleased with the mental side of us against South Florida.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Coaches talk about their players' "basketball IQ". Your evaluation of your players' IQ?
COACH WALZ: Well, if they've watched our games...sometimes it's not very good. It's really an amazing thing at times. At the end of the South Florida game, we wanted Sherrone Vails to try and foul #32 McDonald. And, what you all couldn't see on the radio is that she put two arms around her and gave her a hug, grabbed her. It should have been an intentional foul on Vails. Two free throws and the ball possession. And I asked her...what are you doing?
"Well, you said to foul her."
I don't know...they don't watch a lot of basketball. They play the game, love to do that...but to sit and watch hours of basketball on TV? I'm not sure they do that. It's constantly a teaching process. Working on turnovers. We have to put them in situations and teach them the game. I joked with them after the St. John's game. We had three of the worst basketball plays in a row that I've seen in a long time at the end of that game. I mean...THREE CONSECUTIVE plays. Normally, you don't see three plays that bad over the life of a game. For us to foul somebody 28 feet away from the basket and up five...and then to drive the length of the court and shoot it with 23 seconds left on the shot clock and us up by three? Then, we get a stop, get the ball back and with seven seconds left and three time outs left and we try to throw it over the top of somebody and turn it over and give them a chance to tie the game.
Those are things I keep harping on to them. You've got to understand the situation. You can't just go out and play. You have to be thinking about what's going on. So, that's our challenge. But, we have made improvements. It's not like they're not giving good effort. I don't question their physical effort but weve challenged to take the next step defensively to get better.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Every year it seems like this team has to cope with injuries. Talk a little about this year's injuries and how it's affected your coaching style.
COACH WALZ: It's not that it affects the way I coach, it's just that I have to sit back and evaluate the rotation. Figuring out who's going to play, whose not going to play. I've got Asia Taylor back to play and she's practicing more and more but I don't know if she's ready to go full strength and actually play. If she could, this last month of the season...I'd do it. It's her senior year, she's going to graduate and we play our first two NCAA Tournament games at home. I'm just a big believer in not passing up an opportunity that's right there in front of you. If she'd be able to play a solid eight-nine games, I'd play her because I think she could really help us but I'm not sure she's there yet.
On Monique Reid, Mo was kind of off and on early in the year, I was trying to watch the amount of minutes she played. She hurts her knee again doing a box-out drill in practice but we're hoping to have her back in three weeks. If that works out it's a big lift for us.
Tia Gibbs has actually been doing some running and basketball agility drills on the floor. She feels good. So, she's one I'm (originally) not thinking is going to come back and play...but there's a possibility she might. If she can, that'd be great. I love to see a kid be able to go out on her own terms and if she can go on Senior Night, I'll put her out there. I'm just not sure her body is able to handle a full season. So, would I love to red-shirt her again in which we would get a sixth year for her and have her play a whole year? Sure I would. But I just don't believe her body is going to allow her to do that. If we could get her to play the last five or six games for us, I think it would be a big lift for us.
Shawnta Dyer's surgery went very well for her ACL and MCL. She's doing a great job with her rehab and hopefully she'll be back in six months.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Give us an example of a player you've coached that you wish you could clone. In all aspects, not just points scored.
COACH WALZ: I'd probably go back to my days at Maryland. Crystal Langhorne. She's probably the best player, person and student I've coached. I've often told her that if my daughter grows up to be like her, I'd be happy. We've had some great players, some great kids here, too. In Crystal, you've talking about a kid that was a Kodak All-American a couple of years, lead the country in field goal percentage all four years she played, was a 3.9 student. Had all of it. If I could have two or three of her, it's be great. Candyce Bingham, Angel...we've had a lot of great ones here but Crystal would be at the top of my list.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Speaking of Candyce, is she going to participate in the alumni game Saturday?
COACH WALZ: She says she is and she's excited about that. We have a good turnout showing up. We have about 70 that are coming back and about 30 that have said they're playing, so it should be fun!
CARDINAL COUPLE: Have you chosen coaches for these teams?
COACH WALZ: I'm not sure if we're going to do that. We'll have somebody out there. I've got Adrienne Johnson and Coach Sam (Samantha Williams). They're going to work on dividing up the groups. It's going to be fun! We're really trying and working on getting the alumni back on campus and getting them involved in things.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Any chance of Angel coming back over for the game?
COACH WALZ: No, no...we can't pay her enough (Laughs).
CARDINAL COUPLE: A Georgetown question...how do you plan on "unsweetening Sugar Rodgers?
COACH WALZ: We're going to have to do a good job of making all her shots tough. She's going to score. No question about that. What we have to do is try to make her earn everything she gets. It's been our focus the past couple of days. Knowing where she is on the floor. Making sure we're there on the catch. We have to communicate if they come out and screen for her. It'll be tough. We'll have our hands full.
We need to try and control the pace of the game. We have to do a really good job of dictating what they do offensively.
CARDINAL COUPLE: The team seems to have trouble at times on inbounds plays. How can you improve these?
COACH WALZ: We need to do a better job at setting screens and coming off screens. It comes down to half-court execution. You have to take pride in going hard, coming hard off a screen. Those are things that we'd been working on and I believe we're getting that taken care of, we're getting better at it.
CARDINAL COUPLE: Tell us a little about what a coach has to do off the court with the players.
COACH WALZ: There's a whole lot that we have to do that nobody sees. It's part of it. Our job is to try and see that they're prepared to succeed in life. I tell them all the time...that if you can handle me and the way I coach you and treat you in practice...then when you get a job, your boss is going to be a piece of cake. I like to say I'm tough on them, but if they do what we ask them to do, then I'm not very tough at all. If you play hard, if you show up on time, if you give me a good effort...then I'm not hard to deal with at all. If you're not taking care of business, though, I'm a bear. I do demand that from them. Our job here is, obviously, to win basketball games but it's also to make sure they're prepared for life after this.
(We appreciate the time and the insights that Coach Walz gave us about the Cardinal women's basketball program and players and we can easily see why he is one of the best at what he does.)
DOIN THE HUSTLE WITH THE HOYAS
After all, what is a Hoya? A lengthy attempt to define what it is -- is at the internet site "Hoya Saxa". Some say the name is rooted in Greek or Latin. It's also been suggested that the name is derived from the one-time student newspaper that was called the "Hilltopper". Curiously, the term "Hoya" can be found in the fight songs of two other Jesuit colleges in the U.S.
Holy Cross -- and the "Hoiah, Holy Cross" and Marquette's "Ring Out AHOYA!"
I know who I'd pick in a basketball game between the two...
A depiction of a Hoya with its' pointy ears conjures up an image of a character that looks a bit devilish. Father Merrin and Father Karras, once Jesuit clerics on the staff of Georgetown, were last heard from doing their best to exorcise from a lovely little girl named Regan an entity that was a little bit devilish in the 1974 movie The Exorcist.
I'm not suggesting anything paranormal might be rising at the YUM!, of course. Sugar Rodgers can play holy hell on an opponent's defense, though.
And, Rodgers is the show for first-year coach Keith Brown -- who toiled underneath Terri Williams Floruney as an assistant before she packed her bags and headed to "Sweet Home Alabama" and Auburn University.
Rodgers averages 23.7 points per game. Thus endeth the Georgetown scout. Stop Rodgers, win yourself a game.
If the Cards can play the fast, hard-nosed style of defense and score like they did against the USF Bulls, they'll "destroya the Hoyas" .
Although I agree in the "cut off the head of the snake and the rest of the body will die" philosophy to beat Georgetown...the Hoyas, Bulldogs...whatever you want to call them...are averaging 64.5 points a game. Those extra 40 that "Sugar, Sugar" isn't scoring aren't coming from Linda Blair (who played "Regan" in the Exorcist) or from Ronald Reagan either.
Andrea White is very capable of putting up double-doubles and shot 55% last week against Seton Hall, Rutgers and Pitt. And the team was 14-5 as of Jan 27th. , with wins over Delaware, George Washington, LSU and Temple...so they're an opponent to be feared.
Louisville leads the series 5-2 against the Hoyas and Coach Walz is 3-2. The Cards beat them 64-61 last year in Washington. Shoni, Burke, Bria and Nita had 53 of those Cardinal points and even though we won't be able to toss "Big Shot Becky" at them this year...the elder Schimmel appears to have found her groove and we hope it stays found. Maybe the Hoyas can stay around and watch Becky in the alumnae game following the BIG EAST tilt if they miss her at all.
Two things come to mind when I think of the Louisville vs. Georgetown WBB series. The infamous fight up there back in 2010 during the pre-game warm ups and the way GU blew the doors off the Cards in the second half of the 2011 meeting in the KFC YUM! Center...winning 76-52. It may have been the team's biggest "hiccup" of the season that year.
Sugar was there for both of those days of Cardinal infamy, and she'll be there today (unless Timmy the Intern can convince her she's won the lottery and take her on a mansion-shopping spree). She's harder to handle that wet fish with greased rubber gloves on and this one could very well be a "pacemaker clutcher" -- in true "Cardiac Card" fashion.
Since I gave the team good luck by picking against them in Tampa (yeah, that's the ticket!) I'm doing it again and saying Georgetown by two. This, of course, means Louisville will win by four...if you follow the Paulie Boolean Mathematical Formula for Cardinal success based on the principal of diminishing returns for qualified gains.
What the heck did I just say? Maybe I can get CARDINAL COUPLE columnist Jeff O'Bryan to explain it to me later at the Volleyball banquet. Or Co-Co. Thanks to reader Dougie, who sent me a link for Boolean algorhythms. Made no sense at all to me...
Whatever...should be a barn-burner and we'll see ya at the arena later. Coach Walz is requesting your attendance and he's the kind of guy who would come out and shovel your driveway for you if called him and said you wanted to attend.
( You can bet your bippy we'll be back later tonight with a game recap and also a report on how the Volleyball banquet went. )