Thursday, September 7, 2017
Louisville WBB -- Laemmle earns schloarship...Mystics advance in WNBA playoffs -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
HARD WORK PAYS OFF FOR JESSICA LAEMMLE
Louisville women's basketball sophomore Jessica Laemmle has been given a scholarship for the upcoming season. It couldn't have been awarded to a more dedicated, hard-working and team player than the diminutive guard out of Louisville Mercy high school.
When it was announced that Laemmle would walk on the Cardinal WBB squad last season, most Cardinal fans weren't real sure what they were getting in the 5'2" playmaker. Laemmle had turned in a very distinguished career at Mercy...leading her team to the Sixth Region championship game in her final year. She averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists her senior season. She was the 2016 Louisville Catholic Sports Network Girls' Basketball Player of the Year, Courier-Journal all-second team, all-district, all-Sixth Region and all-Louisville Invitational Tournament team selection. She wasn't, however, being chased with the pursuit intensity of the other eventual freshmen on the squad....Kylee Shook, Sydney Zambrotta, Jasmine Jones, Bionca Dunham or Ciera Johnson.
No top ESPNW 100 Hoop Gurlz recruiting ranking for her. Not even a three-star rating in the 2016 Kentucky players classification.
Certainly enough accolades there from high school to earn her a scholarship to a mid-major Division I school or top flight DII or III college...but Jessica had a dream. She wanted to play for the Louisville Cardinals. Jeff Walz, realizing the fire and energy in the "Attack Yorkie", invited her to walk-on the squad...not having a scholarship available at the time to offer her.
Playing time was hard to come by on the court but she did get into 21 games, played 111 minutes, and getting nine points and four steals with eight assists as one of the Cards back up guards. Her season high in points came in the first game of the year at UT Martin...where she hit a jumper and canned two free throws for four points.
As the season progressed, fans in the KFC YUM! Center became enamored with her hustle, hard work and defense in the minutes she saw action. She got a season high 17 minutes of playing time against Boston College late in the season, hit her only shot and grabbed two rebounds in the Cardinal win.
More importantly, she became a fan favorite...especially with the younger girls in attendance at games. They could look at her and dream that with hard work and effort, they just might be able to do the same someday. Watching the little girls flock to her for post-game autographs. No, she never made the post-game podium in the press room after a Cardinal WBB contest but her actions have far out-spoken anything she could ever say up there on the high-rise platform. We interviewed her for Cardinal Couple at the end of last season in the the Cards locker room. Typically, she was quick to praise her teammates and deflected any attempts to boast on her own efforts. You gotta love a girl like that.
Jessica goes at one speed....fast....and she's continually going. On a recent trip I made to the YUM! Practice facility...the court was empty except for her and Myisha Hines-Allen....Jessica guarding her closely as they practiced at 9 a.m. No coaches, just two players working on their game.
Putting in the hours, never giving up and delivering her all. An example of what hard work will get you. Congratulations, Jessica. You went out, earned this and deserve it.
Somewhere, I am pretty sure, in our fair city...whether it is on a outdoor goal perched on a garage or in an elementary school gymnasium...a young girl struggles to toss a basketball at a rim that seems a mile high in the sky...devoutly practicing each day so that she, too, can pursue the dream of playing for the Cards someday...just like Jessica does.
When the dream becomes reality...it can be a cool experience. Attack Yorkies. Gotta love 'em.
(Check out the announcement on Twitter under @UofLWBB or on our UofL Athletic twitter feed on The Right Side of the Site)
MYSTICS ADVANCE IN WNBA PLAYOFFS.
In what seemed more like a WWE Smackdown at times and maybe the longest last minute in actual time in WNBA history...the Washington Mystics outlasted the Dallas Wings last night in the first-round, single-elimination format 86-76.
Elena Della Donne, sporting a tape job underneath her chin for the final minutes that made her look like she was growing a white beard led the Mystics with 25 points and 11 rebounds. She may have been the only one of the ten on the court that didn't get chippy or vicious in a game that involved four "rough play" sideline reviews, two technicals and a player ejection.
Dallas' Glory Johnson probably didn't make any friends in DC last night. She may have thrown the sissiest punch ever on the hardwood...lightly tapping a surprised Emma Messeeman on the back. Aerial Powers showed her MMA prowess by putting a choke hold on the Mystics Tierra Ruffin-Pratt in a floor scramble. I thought I even saw Ronda Rousey warming up in the visitors tunnel. This was unabashed mayhem at times. More elbows were flying than at a chicken-wing eating contest.
Oh, yeah. There was also a basketball game going on. The Mystics managed to blow a 13 point lead late in the first half to allow Dallas to tie the game up at the halftime buzzer. Washington also saw a 10 point lead dwindle late in the game until the Wings decided to start trying threes again (they were 2-20) and eventually staggered to the locker room the unanimous winner on all the judges cards.
And, Asia Taylor never got a foot on the court except during timeouts.
I hadn't been watching the WNBA much lately...with UofL sports getting into the swing of things...but I may need to return as a viewer. This one was better than the McGregor-Mayweather fight.