Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Louisville women's basketball -- What Are You Looking Forward To? -- Wednesday CARDINAL COUPLE
2016-17 SEASON FOR LOUISVILLE WBB DRAWS NEAR
I had the chance to sit down with an old buddy recently and do some catching up. Among the many things we discussed...one surprised me. He had a question about the Louisville Women's basketball team. From a guy who never really paid that much attention to women's sports in general, I think we have have converted him into a fan. He asked me what was the biggest thing(s) he should look for if he and his wife were to attend a few games this year?
This is not an easy question to answer in a short response. I'm not sure I adequately answered his question...but I did encourage him to get out, show up and cheer. As I was thinking about our conversation this morning, I thought I'd create an article about it.
What are you looking forward to when it comes to Louisville Women's Basketball this season? Here are some things I came up with. Feel free to expound upon and discuss in the comments sections at the end of this article.
1) Freshman Impact. The Cards have six freshmen on the roster (plus a fifth year player). A variety of front-liners, guards and wings. This is the tallest class that Jeff Walz has recruited in his ten years at Louisville. How will Kylee Shook, Ciera Johnson and Bionca Dunham fit into to the schematics of a squad that has Myisha Hines-Allen, Cortnee Walton and Sam Fuehring as paint-patrollers? This group of girls (all 6'2" or taller) gives Coach Walz and the coaching staff a plethora of options.
Add in the reports that Hines-Allen and Fuehring are improved at outside shooting and free-throws. Walton is finishing better under the basket. If you take 80 minutes (which is the total amount of time that would be available in a game for the "4" and "5") and divide it among these seven...you get roughly 11 minutes a game per player. We might likely see that in the early going. I'm looking forward to see the different combinations and how they mesh together and with the rest of the players on the court.
Guards/wings Jazmine Jones, Sydney Zambrotta and Jessica Laemmle bring depth to positions that were a little thin at times last year. The Cards shot 31.9% from the three-point line last year. Along with Taylor Johnson...will these new additions increase that accuracy? Will they vye for starting (or finishing) minutes with returnees Arica Carter, Briahanna Jackson, Asia Durr, Mariya Moore and Brianna Jones?
2) Who will start? I get this question ranging from novice/new fans to seasoned sportscasters? I'm not sure Walz or the staff even know that yet. But, as Walz is quick to point out...that's not as important as who he puts out there in the final minutes of a close game. Reports are Jackson has impressed at point guard with her distributing skills. Durr is back to 100%. Carter is rehabbing from a keg injury but is expected to be ready for the first scrimmage on November 6th.
I would surmise that you want a starting line-up out there which is capable of putting a great distance between you and your opponents early on. Tough defense, multiple scoring options and consistency. i'll offer a starting lineup possibility...but it's pure conjecture and a dart-board guess...
PG - Briahanna Jackson
SG - Asia Durr
Wing - Mariya Moore
Forward - Myisha Hines-Allen
Center - Cortnee Walton
The thing is, I've probably given out 4-5 different lineup possibilities over the last several days. We'll see how close I am in the early going.
3) Can the Cards get to the Final Four this year? They definitely can. Depth at all positions. Talent at all positions. Superior coaching. Outside shooting on the improve. Athleticism like we've never seen. The key is putting it all together in a consistent fashion. Look to see how the Cards do in early contests...especially at Middle Tennessee, in the three-games-in-three-days Hall of Fame Challenge at the YUM! Center. A killer stretch starts on Nov. 27th. with a Sunday contest against South Carolina in Springfield, MA. followed by visits from Maryland, Kentucky and WKU over a 10 day stretch. If Louisville is 11-0 after this gauntlet...I love their chances to get to the Final Four. I am looking forward to this matchup against the Gamecocks (like a lot of you and the players are) and the early December action.
4) How much better can Myisha Hines-Allen get? Well, there's NCAA Player of the Year...which has been owned by now-graduated "Stewie" from UConn. She'll tell you that she's working on the mid-range and deeper shot making and selection (she was 0-4 from 3-point land last year). She led the team in fouls last year (along with Moore). All areas she has room to grow and improve. She's already, in my opinion, the third best player to don a Louisville WBB uniform in history (behind Angel and Shoni). Can she vault to #1 or #2? An NCAA Championship or Final Four trip would help.
We are 11 days away from the exhibition game against Lindsey Wilson. 16 days until the season-opener at UT Martin. 15 players. 31 games before conference play. 22,000 seats to fill in the KFC YUM! Center. 4 coaches to plan, assess, instruct and decide.
We're seven months past from that disappointing Sunday in March at the KFC YUM! Center...when DePaul knocked off the Cards in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
I wouldn't mind if I never felt the way again I did that afternoon.
I see talented young, impressive experience, quality coaching, a fan-base raring and ready to go. I answer questions daily about the 2016-17 Louisville WBB squad. Sometimes, I might even get the answers somewhat right. It's akin to waiting for Christmas morning. A renewal of hope and dreams.
I'm looking forward to this season. I'm ready