Sunday, December 28, 2014
ACC Hoops -- David Watson -- Sunday Cardinal Couple
NO WEAK STOPS -- NO AUTOMATIC WINS
Paulie asked me to fill in for the Sunday edition of CARDINAL COUPLE and it's my pleasure to return to these pages once again.
Ol' Dave has been busy in his retirement.
Chasing white balls down a green fairway, tracking my oldest daughter's field hockey exploits, working with my son's golf game (much to his golf coach's displeasure) and watching my youngest daughter run. And run.
I admire the dedication in all three. Their quest to rise to the top makes me a proud dad.
Louisville womens' basketball mirrors the challenges that Abby, Nathan and Celeste have chosen to encounter. Especially this year -- where the old guard (no offense Jude and Bria) is meshing with the next newest and greatest thing.
It has to be a challenge for Jeff Walz to mix and blend this proliferance of freshmen and seniors -- nine of the 12 currently able to go fall in these two class groups -- and deliver a splendid bakery confection each night. And consider that one of the seniors (Sherrone Vails) played in the 2010-11 season. Shawnta' Dyer would have if it hadn't been for an injury. Three conferences.
This mix of young and old is also faced with the advent of being the new kids on the block in the toughest women's basketball conference in NCAA D1. Gone are the pushovers of the AAC and BIG EAST.
Each and every ACC women's basketball team will go into conference play at .500 or better.
Gone from the CARDINAL WBB schedule is UConn -- that probably doesn't upset anyone. Traded in, though, for Notre Dame. A Notre Dame that led the ACC last year. Yes, UConn handled the Irish pretty well earlier in the season. UConn will handle everyone in the weakened AAC WBB group pretty well this year.
Also back to test the Cards is Syracuse and Quentin Hillsman. This was a fun rivalry when the Cards and Orange were paired up in the BIG EAST. They're 8-3 and losses to Baylor, Michigan State and South Carolina -- three teams that would give the Cards a battle.
Former conference foe Pittsburgh returns. This isn't Agnes Berenato's BIG EAST doormat anymore. The Panthers are 8-3 and Brianna Kiesel and Monica Wignot could start for any college basketball team.
Louisville has also had past conference alliances with Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Way before the current Walz regime, of course, but Louisville is a just a combined 26-29 against the trio in women's basketball history.
New challenges, new demands.
Not counting Louisville, four teams in the top 25. A Duke dismantling of Kentucky. Notre Dame at 11-1 and sole loss to UConn. Another 11-1 in North Carolina and the powerful Naismith Trophy watchlist trio of Stephanie Mavunga, Allisha Gray and Xylina McDaniel.
New venues, new opportunities.
January promises to be a whirlwind, non stop Cardinal womens' basketball roller coaster. Eight games -- five in the KFC YUM Center and stops at Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and Florida State. Five games on national TV. Four Sundays, two Thursdays, a Wednesday and Friday.
I'm ready. How about you?