15 PREPARE FOR TRIP TO CUBA
The University of Louisville women's basketball team practiced Monday as they prepare to go to Cuba starting Saturday for three games. I had hoped to attend the afternoon practice but some I.T. band troubles have me hobbled up currently and walking is difficult, steps out of the question and sitting and laying down is about all I've been getting accomplished the last couple of days.
Even driving presents an obstacle. More than it normally does for me.
Don't get old, kiddies. It can be a real pain sometimes.
Although I wasn't able to attend, it didn't take my mind off thinking about the trip, the roster and the expectations.
There are 15 players on the University of Louisville roster currently...last time I checked. Six freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors and three that are either red-shirt seniors or fifth year players. I list them as seven guards, three wings and six forward-centers. We'll see how they're listed when UofL releases an updated 2016-17 roster. Who knows...maybe Arica Carter has decided she wants to compete for center?
One of them we know has overseas experience. That's be Mariya Moore...who was on the USA team in Russia with Jeff Walz. There maybe others who have played ball out of the Americas...if you know of any who have, feel free to let me know. Jazmine Jones cold probably jump from Miami to Cuba in three or four hops, from what I've seen.
Beside the three hoops games they'll participate in, there will be cultural and historical opportunities for the travelers. The players have been reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I wonder if any of the casinos and nightclubs have survived from the Bautista/pre-Castro days of Havana? Not that I want them rolling dice and playing cards until 4 a.m....but it might be a diversion for some of the fans going on the trip. The Olympians are complaining about lack of Pokemon Go! spots in Rio. I wonder how they're set up for that in Cuba?
And is the Cuban sandwich just as delicious in downtown Havana as it is here at Mojitos Tapas or Havana Rumba?
The general consensus that me and a couple of other sports-writers have come up with is that Walz will try to play everyone as much as possible and, since playing time comes from hard work in the Jeff Walz rules of basketball...you can imagine everyone is busting their tails in practice the next couple of days. People are asking who I think might start for the Cards. I keep telling them that it doesn't matter who starts, it matters more who finishes a close game. Nevertheless, I would figure that if you were a starter last year, it's up to the reserves and freshmen to try and win your spot and replace you, right?
Maybe he'll do some kind of three-teams-of-five each rotation like you see in all-star games. Maybe he and Sam Purcell will just shoot half-court shots. We won't enter them in the dunk contest...
I look forward to the reports from Cuba.
Our staff-writer-on-hiatus Jenny O'Bryan is making the trip and is doing a blog. That should be fun and informative reading. I'll be watching Twitter and Facebook, too...for reports. I've heard the Internet can be iffy in Cuba at times. I understand fully. It still is for me. We won't be getting any radio play-by-play or live TV for these exhibitions. I did wonder if one of those Cuban stations that cranks the A.M. wattage late at night and can be heard on the lower part of the AM band might broadcast one of the games for the islanders. I doubt I'd be able to follow much of it...my high school Spanish is a bit rusty.
"Cesta" is Spanish for basket. "Rebote" translates into rebound. I'm sure Jeff Walz would like to hear those two terms mentioned a whole lot when his players are being described by the fans and opponents. I did tease the asst. S.I.D. at UofL that he could just call me on the phone and describe the action as it was going on. He hasn't replied to me yet.
Cards in Cuba. The Olympics. Some fun things coming up later this week. I've got a TV and laptop in the bedroom.
Good to go.