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Friday, December 19, 2014

Less than impressive effort in Cards 65-51 win over GCU -- Friday Cardinal Couple

Walton's return marred by lackluster Louisville effort

A season low shooting percentage (35%). A season low point total (65). 12-22 free throw shooting and countless missed opportunities under the basket. One might even imagine the schedule got switched and the Cal game was last night...but Louisville turned in a very inconsistent effort in front of 2000 fans in Phoenix against Grand Canyon University...winning 65-51. 

Shoni Schimmel was in attendance. I kept waiting for Walz to throw her a jersey and have her report to the scorers' table.

Consider that the Cards had a 59-35 lead with seven minutes remaining...after two Mariya Moore free throws. A nice 11-0 Cardinal run over a four minute stretch that seemingly appeared to be the start to a blowout in the making. 

But the Cards weren't capable of loading up the sleigh and delivering the rest of the gifts.   

Louisville managed just one basket (a Jude Schimmel three) and three free throws the rest of the way...seeing a 24 point lead evaporate to 11 with 95 seconds remaining in the game. 

Jeff Walz didn't come out for the post-game recap with Matt Andrews on Cards Radio. Probably a lot of soul searching and dialogue going on in that visitors locker room. 

Or... he mirrored his team's performance of not finding a way to score underneath the hoop and couldn't find his way to press row. 

It is the Christmas season. Mr. Grinch (who stole Christmas) probably would have described tonight's performance as "stink, stank, stunk." 

To paraphrase the Christmas song parody...the Cardinals (not Grandma) got ran over by some antelopes (not reindeer) to end each half.  

GCU head coach Trent May
Enough of the negatives, though. It was a return to court action for junior Cortnee Walton -- who started both halves and got four points in 17 minutes of action. Good to see #13 running the floor and going to the boards. Mariya Moore carrying the Cards once again...the only UofL double figure scorer with 17 points and three threes. Seven threes total for the Cards with Jude adding two and Megan Deines and Sara Hammond with one each.

Louisville never trailed...jumping out to a 14-7 lead after five minutes of action. The Cards went up by 12 after Moore's first trifecta to lead 25-13 with 7:20 left in the first half. Moore canned another three to make it 28-16 at the 5:38 mark. Any hopes of a first half blow out ended, though, when the Antelopes outscored the Cards 8-4 the rest of the way. 

32-24 at the intermission. Moore had 10 to lead all scorers and Louisville held a 20-4 edge with points in the paint.

The Cards did steadily build on the lead as the second half
progressed. Deines' three made it 37-24 Louisville three and a half minutes into action. Moore's final three made it 53-35 with 8:58 to go. The 'Lopes outscored Louisville 16-12 the rest of the way. 

First road trip across the Mississippi for the Cards this season. A fired up, resilient opponent that actually shot worse than Louisville (30%) but kept scrapping and got a couple of late threes from GCU's Australian guard Jess Gajewski to make it interesting.

And...after their tenth win of the year... a Cardinal team that has 63 hours to figure out why a 3-7 team held them to less points and a lower shooting percentage than Kentucky did...and develop a plan to not let it happen again against a significantly talented bunch of Bears in Berkeley.


Regular CARDINAL COUPLE reader, contributor, Arizona resident and buddy Greg made the trip to the contest. His observations below:

Hey Paulie,

Not much to add to the ESPN write up which I thought was pretty good.  Decided not to bother you with any texts during the game and interrupt your viewing.  Just a few quick bullets:

- GCU looked good given their personnel.  Scrappy and certainly not intimidated by the Cards.  Quite well coached.  They've got nothing to be embarrassed about that's for sure.  
- They have a really nice facility, state of the art video & graphics and they put on a good show.  They're wanting to be serious players in the roundball world and they're doing all of the right stuff to make that happen.
- This was a good game for their women's program.  Respectable showing against a national power.  Lots of young girl ballers in attendance.

- Our defense looked great at times but then seemed to periodically clear out a side and let them go straight to the basket.  Walz almost lost his mind a couple times.
- We continue to struggle with missed bunnies and free throws were painful again at 55%.
- I like the black uniforms better than the red but I imagine the red is near and dear to the traditional Card fans.
- Not too surprising we didn't have a stellar outing.  Between Cortnee's homecoming and Jeep tours probably the focus isn't what it could have been.
- Hopefully we'll reload and be ready to rock Cal in a few days.

- Tons of Cortnee and Jude love & support.   The arena holds 5000 and although attendance wasn't reported on ESPN I'm guessing there had to be 2000 to 2500 there.  That's something like 5 or 6 times their normal home attendance.
- Most of one side of the arena seemed to be filled with Card fans.  We overheard some of the GCU fans complaining about how their usual seats were occupied with U of L fans by the time they rolled in.  Too Funny.
- The Native American fans were there in big numbers and they Love, Love, Love Jude.  Cool Folks.  They truly appreciate good basketball and are not afraid to show it.

It was a fun night.  I talked Gina into coming with me and after fifteen minutes or so I was reminded of her mosquito-like attention span.  She thought Jude was cute also liked the black uniforms, the videos and dancers.  After fifteen minutes of actually watching the game she slipped into Candy Crush mode on her iPhone so she and the 8 year old GCU fan sitting in front of us were both in heaven for the remainder of the night.  I only lost her once going to the parking garage after the game when she spotted a Native American fan wearing some earrings she liked and had to stop and exchange phone numbers so she didn't miss a jewelry buying opportunity.  I was getting ready to put out an APB but security found her dazed and confused with her jewelry friend and pointed her my way.   Just to be clear this is pretty much a normal day with Gina.

That's pretty much it.  Gina and I are sitting here laughing at this so you can use as much or as little of as you like.   



  1. Watched this game on my iPod (yes, really). While the Cards didn't shoot well, I
    was impressed by the Lopes half-court defense and never-say-die effort.

    Cards never took this team seriously. It appears the best defense against the
    Cards is to give them open layups or foul them!

    On Walz not showing post-game, I believe he took a vote on whether the team
    wanted to go on to Cal or go home. Probably had a hard time breaking the tie!

    This team isn't very good when challenged for 40 minutes and will probably lose
    some close games. Need to be mentally tougher, but you can't teach that.

    Ugh! Clunker game, but got the win!

    1. Two out of the last three for UofL have been poor showings. Whipping up on Old Dominion no big accomplishment. I'm seeing Louisville head to the Left Coast and getiing left at the starting gap. No good can come of freshmen being your team leaders. Cards will struggle in the ACC. Good that guards are on the way for 2015. These Cardinal guards couldn't defend a stationary sidewalk.

    2. Kinda harsh on the Cards there...aren't ya anonymous? This team is 10-1 not 1-10 and #10th in the nation...not #100. There are a few issues currently with the team...there are always going to be issues...but I'd refer to the leadership of Hammond, Smith and Schimmel as solid and the coaching staff amongst the finest in the nation.


    3. Paulie you do a tremendous job of keeping things positive and I appreciate that. Anonymous is right though. Our freshman are the leaders in their performance on the floor which is OK. It is what it is. Our guards work hard but when they trap out top they don't overplay the side they are trapping on so to avoid getting dribbled around a lot more than we should. That one should be easy to correct but it happens a ton. Then again, we still come up with a lot of steals.

    4. I don't want to sound like too much of a homer on this but actually I think most top 10 WCBB programs would be thrilled to have a couple freshmen being this productive this quickly. Just ask Warlick over at TN. There were stretches in the GCU game when we had three freshmen, a sophomore (E) and a random fifth baller on the court and they looked pretty good. They're still learning but that's actually kind of amazing when you think about it. Put this on top of our next recruiting class and everyone needs to Look Out for the next few years.

      You clearly know roundball so you know that when you double out front someone is open and only athleticism and anticipation will make it work. We've doing a pretty good job of that. Our opponents have varying levels of success against the trap but it's been a great weapon overall. If our shooting was even close to up to speed this game would have been a laugher.

      I think our senior leadership has a good court presence but it would be cool if they could start knocking down shots at a reasonable rate and stay out of foul trouble, particularly in important games. I don't think it's unreasonable to have high expectations of four year starters like Smith and Hammond. Jude has been playing second fiddle for three years but now is her time to shine. None of them are quite there yet but they've all had flashes of excellence this season. I think they'll get there, but only time will tell.

  2. It seemed like it was one of those games that we were always within one basket, one defensive stop or one made free throw of making it a 30 to 35 point blow out. Just couldn't get over the hump. If we make the front end of a couple of the one and ones we missed it's another run away victory. It's good to win even when we don't bring our A Game but obviously that won't fly against better opposition.

    Make no mistake about it, this was by far the biggest game of GCU's season. They were well prepped, ready to go and feisty.

    This is the first big road trip of the year and first one ever for our freshmen so it's good to get it out of the way. Now we'll see how they react to their "not so great" performance and line up against Cal.

  3. Interesting game. I thought GCU was fun to watch. Gritty, well coached and played above their ability. Touchard on GSU has some nice skills.
    A lot of traveling calls on us. We aren't good finishers inside so we miss a lot of contested shots in the paint. I have no idea how you fix that. We always show good effort which is a credit to Walz . We just don't have anyone who can create their own shot off the dribble and that limits us. This game will help the Cards go into the Cal game focused and ready to play.

  4. I understand that this was not our best game and I am sure Coach Walz was upset, but I would consider that the radio talk is a commitment. Walz is not teaching honoring one's commitment by not showing up. Even if this is understood by Matt, it looks bad for Walz and leaves Matt hanging. There is much to praise about the coach, but just don't think this is one.

    1. I'd agree with you on that. U of L recruits nationally and Phoenix is a strong WBB market. There would have been a significant upside to doing the normal post game interview / crowd meet up and autograph sessions.

      One of the major things that differentiates U of L WCBB from everyone else is our nationwide reach & loyal fan base. Lots of SW fans were focusing on this game for a long time and were most likely disappointed when the post game wasn't what they had come to expect when supporting the program.

      Walz is a pretty smart guy so I guess we give him the benefit of the doubt that the lecture our ballers received was more important than the normal media / fan interface that they all appreciate so much.

    2. He can lecture them anytime. This is not the NBA. He should have done the radio show and let the fans meet the players. I would have been ticked off if I were a fan waiting to meet players

  5. My friends said both Shoni and Jude signed after the game. They were excited to meet them.

    1. It musta been quite a while after the game ended and outside the arena...because you could hear the PA announcer requesting the fans to leave the arena over the airwaves while Matt Andrews and AJ waited for a coach to do a post game.


    2. I'm not sure how fast it was after the game was over, but they did sign autographs for fans after the game.


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