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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Louisville women's basketball -- UConn capitalizes on Cards slow start, wins 69-58 -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


19-0 HUSKY RUNS EARLY SINKS CARDS


If, by some chance, you missed the first ten minutes of the Louisville women's basketball game against Connecticut in Storrs last night, consider yourself fortunate. It was a disaster. It started well, enough, with Arica Carter hitting a three to give Louisville the only lead they would have in the contest, but the walls caved in after that. The Huskies went on a 19-0 run that virtually eliminated Louisville's chances. It was ugly, painful and disappointing to view if you are a Cardinal fan. It was just another day in the office for Husky backers. 

Shots wouldn't fall and were hurried and forced. The offensive patterns never materialized. The first quarter turnovers were atrocious (nine of them) and the Huskies couldn't miss from the floor. Led by Katie Lou Samuelson, UConn just went off on the bewildered and out-of-sync Cards, roaring to a 19-3 advantage and a 24-6 first quarter lead. It was what UofL did to Notre Dame earlier in the season, but the Cards were on the receiving end. We know who is #1 in the nation with no doubt whatsoever now and it isn't the ACC school on the banks of the Ohio.

Walz called timeouts. They didn't help. Kia Nurse, UConn guard, was applying intensive-care defensive on Asia Durr and the junior couldn't gather enough space to tie her shoes...much less get a good shot off. Louisville looked clueless, the Huskies scored at will and the capacity crowd in the Gampel Pavilion nodded and cheered in approval every time the Huskies did something right and Louisville miscued and floundered. 
The sense of dread and disillusionment clear and present as I watched from my easy chair. This wasn't so easy. 

"We defended them about as well as we wanted to and that was the plan going in" 

Those words, from UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, were a understatement. Mission accomplished. The Cards looked like one of the non-conference patsies that were sacrificial lambs to Walz's crew early in the season. 

After those bloody and deflating first ten minutes, the Cards started to gather a bit and get back in sync...but it was too late. The Red and Black played on fairly even terms in the second session with Connecticut but still found themselves on the short end of a 42-22 halftime score. It was "Lou" (Samuelson) taking on Louisville single-handedly and doing quite well, almost outscoring the Cards by herself after twenty minutes. Threes, drives to the basket, layups, jumpers...she was the Energizer Bunny and Louisville was dead batteries when it came to containing her. 

Play Louisville basketball? Certainly not this version. 


You can credit the Cards for not letting this one get any worse. In fact, Asia Durr and company won the second half 36-27. She finished with 20 points, Myisha Hines-Allen recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds -- her 13th double-double of the year -- and Arica Carter hit a career high four trifectas in the affair to finish with 12 points. Sam Fuehring had a strong effort inside, mostly in the final half, with strong rebounding and eight points. 

But it was all after the contest had been decided. The 11-point margin of loss was the closest Louisville got to the lead since the horrific first period. Jeff Walz discussed the first quarter: 

"We had good shots there in the first quarter and just missed them. I thought that some of them were too quick and those led to transition for them. That's something you can't do." 

A non-conference lesson learned. 

Losing to #1 in the nation is no disgrace. Louisville shouldn't plummet from their #4 status in the nation, especially when you consider Notre Dame is #5. The ACC Championship is still a very attainable goal and the Cards continue on, with the road trip taking them to Boston College next for a Thursday night contest.


How will the loss to UConn affect them against the Eagles? One would hope they come out madder than hell and punish B.C. But, that first quarter gave every other coach in the ACC key insights on how to stop the Cards. Whether there is anyone in the ACC that can duplicate what UConn did is highly doubtful. Will the Cards come out still hurting and stung in Chestnut Hill? We hope not. 

I'm going to do my best to forget the first half-hour of what I saw last night. Walz will probably use it as a teaching tool, and rightfully so, because there are a lot of things to learn from there. I'd just as soon forget that beginning last night. UConn came out and did what they do. They took control of the car and never gave the keys or driving privileges to the passengers. They showed all women's college basketball fans that the road to Columbus and Final Four dreams goes though Storrs and Geno's roadblock and gauntlet. 

"I thought we competed, which is want we wanted to do, but I just wish we could have made it a better game off the bat".

So do we, the fans, Coach. So do we. 

The question is...how will the Cards react when they get behind the wheel Thursday?
Cardinal fans had hopes, expectations and dreams of knocking off #1. I did too. What we got was a painful and embarrassing lesson on how the elite team in women's college basketball handles big match-ups. 

The casual basketball fan who may have missed the game will look at the final score and maybe think that UConn got a bit of a test last night by only winning by 11. They would be mistaken. This one was over early and UConn maintained. Case closed. 

Let's hope UofL learned something and can put it to use. 28% shooting in the first half would be a great place to start the teaching. Remaining calm and collected in a frenzied environment a good teaching point.  

Does Louisville want them again? Further down the road...NCAA Tournament time? I'd just as soon pass. I hope we end up on the other side of the bracket. We will learn from the loss, yes, but can the Cards do anything to prevent the Huskies from doing it again? Geno's squad learned too. 



I'll dwell on it no more. As UofL football coach John L. Smith said many years ago...sometimes you just have to tear off the rear view mirror and just keep driving. 
Let's hope the Cardinal Caravan doesn't have any slow, sluggish starts in what's left of winter.

I know this column isn't in the usual vein of our "joy and excitement" of Cardinal women's athletics. I'll try to end on that note. The Cards didn't completely fold up the tent. They won the second half. They played UConn as close as just about anyone has this year. They are still a great team and will have many more successes this season. 

Onward. 


THE FRED REPORT


Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) must
have watched the first quarter...
FREE THROWS -- UConn rarely fouls, in the eyes of most referees. When they did last night the Cards failed to capitalize. 55.6% on 5-9 shooting doesn't get a letter.

REBOUNDING -- Here's one battle the Cards did win last night...36-34. Myisha with 12,  Sam with seven and Arica grabbed six. We'll provide a small case "r" for that

EFFORT/EXECUTION -- Throw out the first quarter and it wasn't all that bad in effort and execution. But, that first quarter...ugh. I'll take the high road here and award a small case "e" for the overall performance. 

DEFENSE -- Holding the Huskies to 69 points is pretty impressive.  Samuelson and Williams pretty much scored when they chose to, though, and the Cards got pounded in the points in paint category 44-24. The closer you get, the easier the bucket gets. Based on that, I'll with-hold the letter. 

FINAL FRED REPORT:  _-r-e-_


paulie
xxxxx



26 comments:

  1. Good assessment, Paulie. I can't add much. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in that first 10 minutes. Hard to watch.

    On to the ACC. Win out in the regular season and win the conference tournament and get that #1 seed in Lexington.

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  2. I'd like to see them again in Columbus. Extremely proud of how we fought back in the second half. Throw out the deer in the headlights first quarter and we played well enough to beat them. They "played like Louisville".

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  3. Disappointment. You bet. It's just one game, though. A tough one but UConn is #1 for a reason and the Cards just couldn't hit the broad side of a barn early. It happens. Let's all just shake this one off and get on with the rest of the season.

    Meet them again? I'll pass, too. Let's hope Miss. St. or someone can figure them out and beat them. By current projections, if we remain a #4 seed, we'd have to face them in the Final Four semifinals in Columbus if both teams get that far.

    I like the tear off the rear view mirror reference. Wipe this one off the whiteboard and start fresh.

    -- The Real Joe Hill --

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  4. Just saying, if we're fortunate enough to make it to Columbus, and I think we will be, the teams that will also be there, imo, would be UConn, Miss St, and Baylor. Miss St and Baylor would both be bigger challenges matchup wise than UConn due to their giants inside.

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    Replies
    1. I get what you are saying, K, and at that level there are no easy match-ups or automatic passes. I'd just as soon take our chances with someone new, though, and avoid the Huskies. Provided we get there. Who knows how this loss will affect the Cards?

      The MCAA Tournament can be a topsy-turvy, upset-filled affair at times. Witness Miss. St knocking off the Huskies last year in the semis. A lot of ball to be played yet, but I hope to be in Columbus, watching the Cards, and...if it's UConn in the semis -- so be it. I hope someone can get to them before then.

      Paulie

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    2. We got absolutely destroyed by Baylor last year. And Miss St. has the potential to again knock off UConn. Pick your poison. Hope we get a chance to play any of them in the FF.

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    3. Baylor was awfully rough on Louisville last year, no doubt.

      Paulie

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  5. Cards didn't back down they fought the whole game with the exception of that bad first quarter.PS I really liked Arica Carters grit the red shirt Junior is gaining more confident every game. LTLAG
    MLW

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    1. PS like I said yesterday this was only a test you pass or you fail, but you learn something from it.
      Go Cards lets win the ACC Conference Championship.

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  6. I was pulling for the Cards last night. You are still the best in the ACC and I hope that you can win it all. UConn is as good as advertised and you closed well.

    Your friend
    #1 Clemson Fan
    Arthur
    Greer, SC

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  7. Hey, neither Angel or Shoni beat UConn. It was what it was, a loss to the #1 team in the country on their court. One almost wishes Louisville would have used the UCF approach and drain the shot clock on each possession. Keep the ball out of the Huskies hands as long as you can. Pray for the best when they get it.

    Cards will be fine. We all had hopes but, in reality, we had little chance against them. I'm in the 'avoid UConn again at all costs' camp for the rest of the way.

    Too much talent, too well-coached and so very few mistakes.

    The Deb Factor

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  8. Cards win this game if Asia,MHA & Sam played like they did against Notre Dame. Note the Cards can beat UConn if they play lights out basketball, we seen it once this season.

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    1. Watch the NOTRE DAME game the cards had no fear.

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    2. I want to see that team again!!!!!

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    3. Well sure, IF you can play better than your opponent you likely win. Unfortunately, UConn doesn't allow many opponents to outplay them.

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    4. Notre Dame played no defense. Myisha looked like MICHAEL JORDON against Westbeld. UConn defense wouldn’t allow Cards to play like they did verse Notre Dame.

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  9. At least we didn't lay down after Q1. Thought AC kind of came of age in this game which will be important through the end of the season and ACC tourney. Continue to be impressed with Sam. Asia and MHA missed opportunities to shine but it is what it is. I thought Evans would have given Nurse more trouble like Williams did during the MS win over UConn in the tourney last year but didn't seem to happen in her 21 minutes.

    If we had hit a couple more threes, some more free throws we could have been in it at the end. Would have liked to have seen Z in the game as we had little to lose.

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  10. Moving on, march forward cards beat BC Eagles.
    Hopefully more min. for the bench.
    MLW

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  11. Move on to the important stuff - ACC title and ACC tournament. I heard the announcers quoting Walz during the last time out. According to their report he said with a sense of humor that whoever had the idea to spot UConn 20 points in the first quarter should know that it was a bad idea.

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    Replies
    1. I missed that, had already gone to radio feed but that's the mind of Walz.

      Paulie

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  12. Thankfully the loss does very little in the big picture. It does nothing to the ACC standings and a loss at #1 UConn by only 11 points is practically unheard of. As disappointed as I am with the first quarter the other three quarters looked like Louisville basketball again. They never gave up and had some Huskies fans sweating in the mid-4th quarter. Get over the loss and move on.

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  13. Really good write up Paulie. I enjoyed it and you really summed up the game well.

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    1. Thanks Wade. The story was basically told in those first 10 minutes. Would I have loved to seen the Cards overcome that 20 point halftime deficit and come back to win? As much as the biggest Cardinal fan, you bet. That wasn't going to happen against the Huskies, though.

      Someone, I forget who, was on radio last night and comparing the game to a cat toying with a mouse. Early in the pursuit, the cat is relentless and forces the mouse into submission. After a while, the cat tires of the mouse and gives it an occasional toss or swat to let the mouse know that he, the cat, is still in charge. The mouse keeps trying to escape but the efforts are denied.

      Anyway, like most Louisville fans, I'm ready to move on. Whatcha got, Boston College? We're here!

      Paulie

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  14. IMHO we looked desperate to find Asia! You have to have confidence in YOURSELF for the love of God shoot the ball! So hesitant..Asia is not the only one who can shoot.... Yet the coach continued to try to run plays around her and the other girls looked like they can barely dribble at times... Honestly it unfortunately it reminded me of a rec league game in Grammer school when kids played for fun and there was that one good kid that everyone wanted to get the ball to? But the fact is the are all good players! And it was painful to watch D1 basketball with girls running with there backs to the ball when UCONN was bringing the ball up! Turn around ladies cause KIAs on your tale. Ok learn a lesson here please!














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    1. I agree Denise they pass up shots trying to feed Asia the ball, pull the trigger no fear.
      MLW

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    2. Thank you! Please dont run with your back to the ball at this level. I still have a little sore throat from yelling turn around and shoot the darn ball. Lol I'm sure the girls will come back better then ever!

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