Saturday, December 26, 2015
Redemption train ready to roll again...will the conductors be ready? -- Saturday CARDINAL COUPLE
JANUARY WILL TEST THE PROGRESS OF UOFL WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
As the UofL women's basketball enjoys the holidays and the redemption train rests in the freight yard awaiting the continuation of the journey...let's look at the current state of the players who huddle around Jeff Walz for direction and guidance.
We'll put them into three categories. The Dependables, The Expectation Crew and The More Information/Input Please groups.
Four Cardinals are in this group. Briahanna Jackson, Myisha Hines-Allen, Mariya Moore and Cortnee Walton.
Each night, Walz pretty much knows what he's going to get out of this group. Strong shooting, rebounding, hustle, effort and experience. Sure, there are occasional clunkers but the four average over 28 minutes a game and are four you would expect on the court in the final two minutes of a close contest...fouls and such not taken into consideration.
Jackson is the heart and soul of this squad. I'd go into battle with her anytime. Hines-Allen is the emotion. When MHA takes over a game, it's like seeing an Academy Award performance. Moore can send a team into deep despair with just a few flicks of the wrist from the deep. Walton is the proud mama lion, defending the paint with ferocity and grabbing every rebound in sight.
They are a solid foursome. They also have the most experience of the roster. They've been there before and you expect a dependable result when they play. Each is capable of taking over a game for stretches and can create those "did you see that?" plays on the court. They fully realize the work needed to be the best you can be.
THE EXPECTATION CREW
I'm putting three players into this category. Asia Durr, Arica Carter and Taja Cole. These three have the skills and talent to join the dependables but there are a few things to work out yet.
With Durr it is pain management. When able to go at 100% she has the potential to be the best player on this squad. Even at 70%...she's a force to be reckoned with.
Carter has improved light-years from her freshman campaign. There is confidence now and recognition of game flow. The shot still needs work to get her into the dependable slot.
Cole has shown us flashes of greatness and at times just might be the most deceptive ball-handler on the roster. Then, there are the moments of freshman mistakes and looking lost. Fortunately, that will disappear with experience.
MORE INFORMATION/INPUT PLEASE
This is where Sam Fuehring, Brianna Jones, Erin De Grate, Dakota Weatherford and Syd Brackemyre are currently.
All for different reasons.
With Fuehring, we've seen what could be and what we're expecting to see down the road. We've also seen the miscues and inexplicable moments of freshman mistakes. If she can get to the point when Walz can feel confident give her 20 minutes a game to augment the thin front line, I'll gladly move her to the Expectation Crew club.
Jonesie just needs time on the court and a defensive awakening. Being behind Moore in the rotation means not many minutes on the court. She needs to be ready to take those chances, though, and impress.
DeGrate is a rose about to bloom. Working hard to get into D1 playing shape and looking better each time she steps on the court...her upside is huge. She'll get there with continued hard work and experience and we're confident you'll love the results.
Weatherford is a fireball of energy and hustle. Her stock is rising also. Sitting out a year of hoops takes longer to come back from than one realizes. When called on, she'll deliver. The guard position is loaded though...and she'll probably continue to be that player who hits the court when the lead is over 20 points and for mop-up duty.
With Brackemyre, it's all about the knee. I saw video of her as a junior in high school and was convinced she'd be a starter here her freshman year. Injuries...ask Asia Taylor or Shawnta Dyer about injuries. If the latest operation cures the problem...think of a muscle car that had to run on a flat but then gets a new tire and tune-up. A-Tayy and Shawnta overcame the setbacks. We'd love to see Syd do the same.
The train gets rolling again in a few days. We'll get into UT-Martin in tomorrow's column. We hope the conductor, engineer and technicians are "all aboard!" and ready to go do the work.
Yes, we know....Kentucky plays Louisville today at noon. That does give you an hour before tipoff, though, to listen to THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR on WCHQ 100.9 FM or on the internet at:
We'll be doing our end-of-year review of the 2015 UofL women's sports programs' seasons. It'll be interesting to see if Worldwide and I come up with the same synopses and opinions.
In any event, it should be fun...Please join us!