Friday, March 29, 2013
Friday Cardinal Couple -- Who's afraid of the Big, Bad Bears?
FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-David Watson takes a look at Baylor WBB
-Softball doubleheader Friday.
(David Watson guides us into an exciting weekend of college basketball with his 'only David would write this' review of Baylor. Love him or hate him, he makes you think. Of what, we're not exactly sure...)
So, who's afraid of the Big, Bad Baylor Bears? I was humming that nursery song about the three pigs (Calipari, Coach K. and Tom Crean) and the big, bad wolf (NCAA sanctions) but thinking about the Baylor women's basketball team. 74-1 over the last two years. A two-point loss to Standford early this season. Everyone else since that game has had to pay, and pay dearly, for the blemish on the prom queen's snozzzola. Afraid? I'm terrified of them. I think they could beat a lot of lower ranked men's DI teams. Maybe half the teams in the WNBA. Definitely the pick-up team I played on a few year's back at the YMCA.
It all begins with Griner. She's a flat-liner if you try and spend much time trying to figure out how to stop her. Because you can't. 6'8" and coordinated, which is a rarity in most of the 6'5" and overs that are in women's college basketball. I firmly believe you could put Cardinal Couple's Jenny, Sandy, Paulie and Jeff on a team with her and compete for the NCAA title. No, I'm not coming off the bench, either. She makes the players around her good, not saying that Odyssey Sims was horrible before she got to Baylor -- she wasn't -- but there is a strength, security and confidence level that permeates a player when they know they are on the court with the best in the business.
I give Kim Mulkey a lot of credit for the successes of the Big, Bad Bears, too. She knows the game, had a fantastic career when she played and knows how to use Griner. Knows how to compliment her with players that will reap and sow benefits from sharing court-time with the 6'8" powerhouse. You may ask yourself if coaches like Walz, Auriemma, McGraw, VanderVeer and Mitchell wouldn't have the same success? We'll never know -- but Griner went to Baylor and Waco for a reason. It probably wasn't for the barbecue and the view.
Jeff Walz has a daunting task ahead of him. Daunting but one with no pressure. You see, no one expects Louisville to beat the Bears. His task is to shock the world. At least the women's college basketball world. How does he do this? I have a few thoughts on that:
1) Keep Griner off the court. The easiest way to do that (short of a restraining order) is get her in foul trouble early. The Cards do have a few player who take a charge well and can fake it admirably. Griner on the bench is a good thing -- unless you're a Baylor fan.
2) Limit her touches. That means keeping her teammates from getting the ball to her. Which means hard-nose pressure on the guards who deliver the orange orb and blocking out on shots that are taken. A double-team on her has it's pluses and minuses. A deliberate offense when you have the ball can back-fire ( see Louisville vs. Kentucky). Aggressive defense is a good start. Sidearms and electric prods wouldn't hurt.
3) Prevent the runs. I know, there is a stomach bug going around and that isn't what I'm referring to -- it's a case of not letting Baylor rattle off eight or ten points in a row. Which means your offense needs to be "on". Hopefully Shoni, Nita, Bria, Mo, Sara and Jude will bring their "A" game offensively to Oklahoma City. 4-17 shooting won't cut it.
In any event, it's a great honor and accomplishment that the Cards have gotten this far. You know the maladies and setbacks UofL has had to endure this season. I'll watch, I'll cheer and I'll hope for the best. Hurry up, Sunday. The natives are restless. There are Bears in the distance.
( David has offered his services as a ref and/or scorekeeper for this game. Last we heard, the NCAA had not returned his e-mails. The TV timeouts would reach record numbers if he were to draw either assignment...)
Louisville softball plunges into BIG EAST softball action today with a double-header against Syracuse that begins at 2 p.m. at Ulmer Stadium. #11 UofL is 26-5 on the season and comes off a split in two games against #1 Oklahoma.
Offensive leaders Taner Fowler, Katie Keller, Alicja Wolny and Maggie Ruckenbrod are probably overjoyed at the prospects of facing a Orange team that won't have Jenna Caira in the pitching circle for them. The 'Cuse has won the last six meetings between the teams but is off to a 11-14 start this season. Last time out the Orange swept Harvard in a double header. They do have a win over #4 California in their resume.
Here's hoping for a "Good Carl" performance or two on Friday and Saturday. The weather looks promising, get out to Ulmer and root on your Lady Cards!
Friday's first game is on TV...WHAS 11.2 and the accompanying Insight/Comcast channels will show it.
Brian U'Sellis (he of the world's most interesting man-type beard) and Patty Norton will provide the play-by-play and color analysis. They didn't ask me, Jeff or Jenny to don the headsets and grab the microphones. Probably for a good reason and a wise decision. Maybe we can do live lacrosse coverage.