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Friday, April 3, 2015

WBB gameMUSINGS...Softball at VT -- Friday Cardinal Couple


The question was posed to me recently in a conversation I was having with a local, engaging and
very knowledgeable women's college former player and still avid follower of the game. Is womens college basketball getting too predictable?

This player/fan posed it to me because of Cardinal Couple's close attention to it nearly year-round and our large readership base that definitely swells when the game is in season. It evolved because of UConn's seemingly predictable climb to wherever the Final Four is being held. 

I thought about that question predictability in terms of the science of picking...or predicting the outcome of an action or event. I then examined it through the common perceptions of the game as it is today. 

One thing I found predictable:

Connecticut doesn't have "off" seasons in terms of success.

1) Are the paths of the top recruits predictable?

Coach Geno Auriemma recruits and gets a lot of the top talent year in and year out. He doesn't always get the top girl out of a class, though.

Two years ago, Mercedes Russell was the top, or close to the top of the 2013 class. She deliberated between Tennessee and Louisville. The Vols won out...Russell had a limited freshman season and sat out the 2014-15 campaign because of injury.

The 2014 top-ranked performer...A'ja Wilson...looked at Louisville and other schools before choosing Dawn Staley and South Carolina. Wilson was a key component in getting SC to the Final Four. She had plenty of help. Tiffany Mitchell is the real deal. 

The 2015 class was led by Asia Durr and Katie Lou Samuelson. The Cards got Durr, Geno got Katie Lou.

You have to go back to 2012 to find a  top ten class that had more than one eventual UConn players in it. 

A good class, indeed...with Morgan Tuck, Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart. 

So, is it predictable that Geno is always getting the best players in high school? Nope, not really. But he does get players who produce. Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird.

You could build a pretty decent WNBA team or two with the UConn grads that have gone onto the next level. 

2)  Is the women's Final Four predictable? 

This year, the top four seeds advanced. In 2014, UConn and Notre Dame were undefeated and #1 seeds. Stanford and Maryland were huge picks to get there and did....but it was UConn and Notre Dame in the final and UConn won.

In 2013, Louisville made it to the title game against UConn. The Cards were not a #1 seed. They disposed of a #1 seed in Baylor...who was the 2012 champion at 40-0. 

All these winners of the NCAA Tournament were logical picks to do so. 2011 Texas A&M might have been a surprise to some (although Danielle Adams was no shocker in talent) but before that UConn and Tennessee won back-to-backs for four consecutive years.

The Final Four predictable? For the contestant's list, not always. Picking the winner? Yes, pretty much predictable recently.

3) The game in general...predictable?

Not as much as some would indicate...and here's why:

-- A domineering center wins you titles? It doesn't hurt..but it isn't a guarantee. Three of the best I have seen over the past few years were Dolson (UConn), Griner (Baylor) and Ogwumike (Stanford). 

Yes, Dolson and Griner were essential to their teams national championships over the last three years, but they had only three titles in seven years of playing. And, they had good supporting casts. Stewart, Sims, Jefferson and others. Ogwumike never won one. 

-- Good three-point shooting equals wins. Not always. Jeff Walz had a fine one in Shoni Schimmel but Sugar Rodgers was as talented and never got to the Sweet Sixteen. 

The top ten three-point shooters this season:

1Kaleena Mosqueda-LewisUConn  50%

2Nicole BaumanWisconsin  48.8%

3Kelsey HarrisUC Davis  48.3%

4Andrea HooverDayton  45.6%

5Madeline BlaisMarist  45.1%

6Melissa DixonIowa  45.1%

7Cassandra BrownPortland  44.4%

8Bonnie SamuelsonStanford  43.8%

9Kayla HoohuliCanisius  43.8%

10Kathleen RochePenn  42.9%

How many are still dancing? How many even made the tournament? 

So, in conclusion...has the game gotten too predictable? I'll say "No"...unless you look at the year in, year out continual successes of Connecticut, Notre Dame, Stanford, Maryland, Louisville, Tennessee and Baylor. These schools can be successfully picked to have good seasons and have over the last seven years. Do these "great eight" dominate the game?

No. But they do set a bar that other schools don't clear nearly as often. 

Look at the rogues. Dayton and Gonzaga this year. Go back as far as you want and you'll find surprises in the Sweet Sixteen lineups. 

And that is the beauty of the game. We wait each year to see what underdog will challenge the Huskies and set them on the sidelines. Will it happen this year? 

Weigh in. Do you think the game has become too predictable? And, if so, how do you change it? 



Louisville Softball looks to remain atop the ACC Conference with a road trip to Blacksburg, VA to face the dangerous Gobblers. VT was picked to finish third in ACC preseason polling...but has gotten off to a less than excellent 3-8 conference start and is in eighth place. They are 25-9 overall. Louisville stands at 22-9 and has just one conference loss.

First game tonight at 7 p.m. and these will be available on ESPN3. 



  1. I think that the list of characters change a bit over the years. When I first started following the wbb in Angel's Sophomore year we were pretty much just coming into our own, Rutgers was still a mover and a shaker. Baylor was never the power that they are now, ten years ago. and the dominant team before Connecticut was Tennessee. But, it seems to me if predictable means that we get the same teams in the top 15 every year with only a few exceptions, then, yes, it is pretty predictable, but by that same standard, so in MBB and football and probably a number of other sports played by men and women. It all seems to go with the coach. Yes, Angel preceded Walz, but Walz is the driving force in whatever success we have had. There is no doubt in my mind that Pt Summit and Gino are why their programs thrived. One of the announcers of the girl's McDonald's all.American team very strongly stated that the present state of affairs with the strength of Uconn was a reason that women's basketball gets whatever support that it does. He has set the standard and it is up to the rest of the teams to rise to the occasion. And it is fun to watch Uconn play, as long as they are not playing us. I believe that the Cardinals are on their way to that level and Walz is the reason.

    1. Good points on teh coaches, Charlie. Many Cardinal fans do not remember...and Walz will point this out if you ask him...he didn't have to do much rebuilding at all when he took the Louisville job. Tom Collen had taken the team to two straight NCAA apperances and Angel and Candyce were on campus as juniors when Jeff arrived.

      There is no doubt that Coach Walz and his staff elevated the program over its prior success plateau. Whether Collen could have produced the same results if he had stayed... we'll never know.

      Here's a game you can play and try to do it in the vein of not being a UofL fan. Write down or type in the first five college women's basketball coaches that come to mind.

      I came up with 1) Geno 2) McGraw 3) Mulkey 4) Vanderveer and 5) Summit.

      Try it...


    2. Charlie, I agree with everything that you said. Look at the end-of-season Top 10 in MBB and FCS football and you see mostly the same names year-in-and-year-out, with a few party-crashers. WBB is no different - most years you can predict about eight of the final top 10 before the season starts.

      A big difference in WBB, and what I think is the major factor that has resulted in UConn's dominance at the top (and UT's before that) is the fact that, unlike MBB, the top WBB players all stay for four years. So Geno, and Pat before him, have had year-over-year success using a core group of returning players and filling in with two or three AAs who work their way in (or play immediately in the case of several of them), and the beat goes on.

      Back in the MBB "good old days", coaches like Wooden, Rupp and Knight used the same model - and they had an added advantage because freshmen were ineligible.

      I do think that, if Moore and Hines-Allen continue to develop, and if the 2015 recruits are as good as everyone says they are, and if Shook and (maybe Cox, maybe McCoy, maybe someone else in the 2016 class) are also as good as advertised, Walz will find himself in that same position - "reloading" rather than "rebuilding." Then he will have a legitimate shot at knocking UConn from that well-earned perch at the top.

    3. Paulie, I got Geno, Summit, McGraw, Mulkey and C Viv. Forgot about Vanderveer - she should bump Stringer. Could go back a few years to Leon Barmore and Jody Conradt. I just took a look at those two Wikipedia pages - pretty impressive!

    4. That one is easy Paulie
      Matthew Mitchell, Matthew Mitchell, Matthew Mitchell, Matthew Mitchell and Matthew Mitchell.

      Point one.

      Paulie, UK has had just as much success as the eight you mention in your article. Walz and Mitchell arrived at their current location around the same time. UK deserves mention in that top "eight" of yours.

      Point Two. Your "great eight" is only seven in your article. I'll send you the link on how to count. Kentucky is the logical eighth.

      Point Three. (Or "thrrrrreeeeee!!!")

      How about the great success Georgia has had since the turn of the century?. Vanderbilt? LSU? Your list has a former BIG East and ACC bias.

      Point Four: The acutal first five coaches I think of (taking MM out of the equation) are Pat Summit, Geno Auriemma, Van Chancellor, Muffet McGraw and Jeff Walz.

      Matthew Mitchell For Governor

    5. How about Geno, Muffet, Doug Bruno, Gary Blair and Summit? I thought about "Q" around the same time as Bruno. I like demonstrative coaches on the sidelines and those six are fun to watch. I would have included Walz but took into account your reminder to look at it as a non-UofL fan.

      Curtis Franklin

    6. Just remember, Gov...that MM was born in Louisville.


      Besides his ability to beat Louisville...what else though has he really accomplish at UK? No SEC titles. No Final Fours


    7. As regards MM - Yes, he has done a good job in advancing the UK program at about the same pace that Walz has at Louisvile. And yes (sorry to say) he has beaten Louisville more than I'd like. But the true measure of a coach's success (WBB or MBB) is the NCAA tournament. And in that regard MM hasn't done it yet. Walz has. Yeah, you can say that MM had the misfortune of running into UConn a couple times, but so has Walz. And the Baylor win, followed by a win over a pretty good UT team, trumps anything UK has done by a wide margin.

      Walz has also been able to get butts in the seats. Gov, I'd like your take on why MM, with a fan base that (in their minds at least) is second-to-none), hasn't been able to do that. The turnout for the UK-Dayton game was an embarrassment.

    8. Mike D:

      2014 attendance numbers:

      1. Tennessee 18 games. 198,692 11,038
      2. Iowa St. 17 games. 168,576 9,916
      3. Louisville 20 games 189,385 9,469
      4. Notre Dame 17 games 147,799 8,694
      5. UConn 18 games 149,625 8,313
      6. Purdue 15 games 110,825 7,388
      7. Michigan St. 15 games 107,177 7,145
      8. Baylor 22 games 151,384 6,881
      9. Kentucky 18 games 121,089 6,727
      10. S.Carolina 16 games 101,935 6,371

      As far as the Tournament, a lot of normal attendees were in Louisville attending the men's games. WE have a lot of crossover fans just like the UofL program does.

      I don't see #9 in the nation in attendance as embarassing. If I could change anything, it would be to play all the games in Rupp.

      Matthew Mitchell For Governor

    9. MM, your "normal attendees were in Louisville" argument doesn't fly. UK beat Cincy on Saturday afternoon (I was there -- my wife bleeds blue). UK-Dayton game was Sunday afternoon. I suspect BBN was back east by then. Try again.

    10. Only difference between Louisville and KY in the tournament this year is KY ran into Dayton a round earlier than we did. Us bragging how we made it a round further is empty rhetoric. If we ran into Dayton before KY they would have advanced a round further than us.

    11. I don't think our 2015 recruts will be as good as advertised. Durr looks lazy on defense and Cole isn't that great and Sam, despite her motor will take a long time to be close coming anywhere close to replacing Sara Hammond. I'm hoping DeGrate and Jones will surprise or some awesome JC transfer or we get Cox, otherwise we in for a lot of disapointment

    12. Isn't it strange MM can beat Louisville with ease every year and can't do much in the tournament? His TV show stinks too. He's kind of a weird character. I think we have a much better coach that can't beat MM. Strange.

    13. Wade, as far as Cards vs Cats NCAA performance is concerned, don't look at just this year, look at the last six years or so. It's Walz over MM by a mile. And Cards outperformed Cats in the NCAAs before Walz, under Collen. And, finally, it's a whole different game if Cards get Dayton in the Yum! in front of 10,000+ fans.

      Durr didn't look lazy to me..there was not much defense being played out there by anyone until the last two minutes or so. Durr did get beat on a couple drives, but it was pretty telling to me that she was out there, along with Cole and Fuehring, in the final 2-3 minutes when the game was on the line and they actually started defending.

      Have you looked at Durr's YouTube videos? By the time she leaves here she'll be in the same conversation as Angel and Shoni.

      What leads you to believe that Cole isn't that great? She'll start at the point for four years and will almost always be the quickest player on the floor. She's fearless - did you see those two floaters in the lane over the 6-4 centers? I was not as impressed by Fuehring as I was by Durr and Cole, but Fuehring sure showed effort at both ends. She will at worst be a solid role-player.

      Doubt that Walz would go the JC route to pick up a two-year player with 10 freshmen and sophomores on next year's roster. And Cox can't help next year - she's in the class of 2016.

    14. LOL. I have seen the Matthew Mitchell TV Show, quite by accident. He was in the kitchen trying to make turkey sloppy joes. It was almost comedic...except he was trying to be serious.

    15. Paulie, I think that MM knows he's in a no-win battle with the biggest showman in basketball (men's or women's), so he has to go over the top just to remain relevant among the BBN.

      As I keep pointing out to MM for Gov, there's no way to sugarcoat the fact that 3300 people for a home game in the second round of the NCAA tournament, on a Sunday afternoon when BBN is basking in the glow of 36-0, is inexcusable. So Mitchell's schtick must not resonate too well among the blue-clad faithful.

    16. Mike D: good points

  2. You mention all these 2015 and 2016 players but does anyone know what the status is or what happened to Briahanna Jackson? She's be a fine guard on this team if in shape.

    1. I'll second that. I hear rumors she is on campus and getting individual instruction. What is up, CC?

    2. She has joined the NASA Space Program as an astronaut and is circling the earth as we speak....

      Honestly, I will defer to the Sgt. Schultz Principle in this case:

      "I know nothing, Col. Hogan."


    3. Jackson gives us an overabundance of point guards Durr Cole Jackson Carter

  3. 10 SEC schools in the top 25 for NCAA Softball? That's just insane! 2 ACC schoos. And Louisville #49?

    Just sayin'

    Blue Lou

    1. Yup, the SEC is for real in Softball. Kinda like the ACC in Lacrosse.

  4. When you can predict as a given before the year starts half of the Final Four (UConn and Notre Dame for 5 years straight now) the game is way too predictable.

  5. Ariana Freeman is transferring. Seeking more playing time elsewhere.


    1. Bummer. Liked her.

    2. Makes sense. With the recruiting class coming in her future didn't look too bright with the Cards. Hope she lands somewhere good and gets a chance to get on the court and show what she can do.

  6. I have never been anything but supportive of the Kentucky Women's basketball program. Very admirable job by Matthew Mitchell and I follow them quite closely. I am proud that we have such strong teams in Kentucky to follow and I will add the wonderful job that is being done at WKU. Attacking the other programs and comparing things make us sound like third graders. We need to get a life outside sports. I might exclude Paulie on that last remark. :)

    1. Good job Charlie. I agree. Matthew Mitchell's TV show does stink though.


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