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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saturday Cardinal Couple -- An American update



SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

- A two horse race halfway through the schedule


Louisville WBB will play their tenth of 18 games tomorrow in the American Athletic Conference...a bit of unfinished business at hand...when those South Florida Bulls come to town and try to disrupt the china shop.

So far...it's been nothing but "W" in the win/loss ledger for Jeff Walz's crew...to borrow a softball term, the Cards are pitching a no-hitter against this assortment of Tigers, Cougars, Bearcats and SMU's.


Standings Conference Pct. PF PA Overall Pct. PF PA Home Away Neutral Last 10 Streak
UCONN 9-0 1.000 83.9 47.8 22-0 1.000 84.4 48.5 12-0 8-0 2-0 10-0 W 22
Louisville 9-0 1.000 76.8 58.2 21-1 .955 83.9 59.6 13-0 8-1 0-0 10-0 W 14
Rutgers 6-3 .667 69.7 64.0 15-5 .750 68.4 58.5 8-2 6-2 1-1 7-3 L 1
USF 6-3 .667 63.1 57.2 11-9 .550 67.7 60.0 7-5 4-3 0-1 6-4 W 1
SMU 4-5 .444 63.6 66.3 13-7 .650 70.6 66.9 7-2 5-4 1-1 5-5 W 2
Memphis 4-5 .444 62.4 69.1 11-10 .524 65.7 67.6 8-3 3-4 0-3 5-5 W 1
Temple 4-5 .444 61.7 67.9 10-10 .500 65.8 65.9 5-7 5-3 0-0 4-6 L 3
Cincinnati 2-7 .222 47.6 59.0 9-11 .450 56.0 58.3 5-5 3-5 1-1 3-7 L 1
UCF 1-8 .111 50.4 68.3 8-12 .400 59.3 65.8 5-6 3-6 0-0 1-9 L 8
Houston 0-9 .000 50.6 71.8 4-16 .200 56.1 65.8 3-8 1-8 0-0 1-9 L 9



There are no real surprises in the standings above for me...except that I thought Temple had a chance to crack the top 4. And they still have nine games to get there. We knew the Bearcats, Central Florida and Houston would be cellar dwellers.

 Louisville and Connecticut have stepped on the court 43 times combined this season and suffered one loss...we all know who delivered it and where. The team that delivered it is having its own difficulties right now...their coach is faced with the dilemma that he only has 200 minutes to distribute to his dozen or so players and they all want 35-40 each. Lexington isn't a real happy place to be these days.

In The American, the place you don't want to be is in fourth. It most likely means you'll have the Huskies in your part of the bracket when tournament time rolls around in early March.

The rest of the basketball world has surveyed the situation, passed judgement and determined that UConn will finish 18-0 in conference play and Louisville will end up 16-2 and get
"place" payouts in this race.

Not so fast, my friend. I'm recommending they still play the games scheduled for 02/09/14 and 03/03/14. Let's hop into the time machine and travel back to Easter Sunday in the year of 2013. Louisville was hunting Easter eggs in Oklahoma City and this big rabbit named Griner was standing in front of the Cards path with her fighting point guard and strip-tease loving coach. Everyone had already filled out their bracket with Baylor advancing to play Tennessee on Tuesday.

Guess who ruined the party?

It could happen again. I'm not ready to hand UConn the games that Louisville will play them in. It could be as many as four times...regular conference twice, AAC Tournament and NCAA Big Dance. The team that the mad scientist coaches isn't ready to shake hands in defeat before the opening tip.

The Louisville WBB theme this year is "Unfinished Business". They did not decide to coin the season with the moniker "Let's Lose To The Dogs Four Times and Beat Everyone Else". Jeff Walz wants to win his final game of the season for the second time in his career...he did it as an assistant at Maryland and you can ask him...it was a pretty good feeling and he'd like to share it with this flock of birds.



I know...the odds are against it. The UConn team we're seeing right now is incredible. Anyone who has played them may have gone into the contest with high hopes but left with an "L"...the fact of the matter is they are almost unbeatable.


Almost.

The same thing was said about Griner and Baylor last year. The Jeff Walz version of the Rick Pitino "one day contract" theory has worked quite well this season.

Shoni, at least right now...is showing the maturity, seasoning and talent we all knew existed within her. Asia Taylor and Sara Hammond have become the workhorses in the paint and they've got two promising apprentices in "E" and Cortnee. 

Tia and Nita are capable of dropping 20 on an unsuspecting opponent any night. Close you eyes for just a second and one of the attack yorkies (Jude and Monny) have stolen the ball from you and are almost at the other end of the court to make a layup. Bria will smile that big, beautiful smile at you and then proceed to embarrass you by pounding down mid-range jumpers or driving journeys to the hoop to make layups. Megan Deines seems to be three people, not one...with her all over the court hustle and playmaking.

Don't count these 11 girls out against UConn. They didn't get to 21-1 by luck. First things first, though. Beating the Bulls and then a winter's trip to Florida to knock off some Knights in Mouseville.

If you believe it, you can achieve it.


paulie
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5 comments:

  1. Nice piece. UConn's biggest risk is their serious depth problem. I'm certainly not wishing ill on them, but they can't have another season ending injury between now and either tourney or they've got a problem. This is women's basketball after all and injuries happen all the time. They had some nervous moments in their last win when Dolson tweaked her foot and went out. She's evidently OK, but it happens that fast.

    If we can get either Stewart or Dolson in foul trouble in the first 10 to 15 minutes our odds of winning go way up. Because they are so thin on ballers they're starters are playing big big minutes which can work to our advantage late in the game if we can keep fresh folks on the court and they start to get fatigued.

    I also think that UConn not having played and won close games (Baylor was semi-close) is a problem going into either tourney. Our Cards have won several close contests against strong teams this season and the confidence that comes from knowing you've done it before is important. If we can keep the game close going into the final 10 minutes we'll have a shot.

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  2. Shoni made the Dawn Staley Award Watch List for the best point guard in the country.

    http://www.dawnstaleyaward.org/

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  3. As I mentioned in a previous post, Walz seems quietly confident about this team. I feel that the key to beating a team like UConn is to find another outside scorer to join Shoni. Taylor and Hammond have been workhorses inside lately, but based on past history, and what I've seen from UConn on TV this year, scoring inside against them will be tough. So the burden will really fall on Slaughter, Gibbs and Smith. If they can have an effective three-point / mid-range presence, and take some pressure off Shoni, we have a shot. Much as I like to see Jude and Monny play defense, neither is an offensive threat and a team like UConn will capitalize on that fact.

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  4. The problem with the Baylor analogy is UConn will never come to the game playing lazy defense with an unprepared coach as Baylor did. I have watched the Baylor game more than 30 times, and it is really striking how lazy they were on defense, even Odessy Sims only hustled on defense about half the time. And when Monique was heading to the basket on one leg, the Baylor players were loafing back running at half speed. This will never happen with UConn.

    The one advantage Louisville has on UConn is depth. If they wear them down defensive aggressiveness and transition baskets, getting some in foul trouble, that would seem to be the best chance of winning. They will never beat UConn in a half court game, but if they can make it a full court, fst paced game, they could wear them down and win, particularly at home with the crowd to lift them in the final 10 miinutes.

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    Replies
    1. Completely agree with you on why the Baylor analogy doesn't work. Kim blew that game. Geno doesn't blow games.
      --PDX

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