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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Replacing Myisha? -- Committee approach seems likely -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


(David Watson provides today's column as the allergy-ridden, snuffling and hacking Paulie downs some more juice and decongestants. It's Dave-O. Enjoy!) 

Hi, all! Ol' Dave-O David Watson bringing you the Thursday Morning edition of the Cardinal Couple. A chat last evening with Paulie indicated the pollens and bloomings in Louisville have been playing havoc with his sinuses and I gallantly volunteered to jump in the writer's chair and return to these legendary pages once again to provide a take on the joy and excitement of Louisville women's sports. 

As I thought about subject matter, it became increasingly clear to me that the thoughts and speculations of Louisville WBB fans were primarily concentrated on one major event that will take place this evening. The WNBA will welcome 36 players in to their fold via the draft. Three rounds of selecting college basketball and overseas players -- players who hope to make a roster, contribute to a team's success and proudly wear the jersey of a professional. 

Myisha Hines-Allen hopes to be one of the 36 who has her name called. From all indications, mock drafts, crystal ball readings and "wise guy" predictions -- she'll be a late first round or second round pick. That means it's possible she'll be on the ESPNU coverage after 8 p.m. -- since ESPN2 is only covering the first round. 

Look at what she's done in four years at Louisville: 

-- 2,028 points

-- 1,151 rebounds

-- WBCA All-American Honorable Mention

-- All ACC First Team

-- ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player

-- A part of 118 wins - the winningest player in UofL WBB history.

And, that's just a brief highlight list. She provided leadership, stability, kindness, community service, defense, enthusiasm, memorable press conferences, tutoring, wit and joy to a program that is grateful for her time here, undoubtedly going to miss her and, although realizing she won't be in those 2018-19 ranks -- it's a program that has a quite bright future. 

She joined a program for the 2014-15 program that has just gone 33-5 the previous year and made the ACC All-Freshman team while starting 28 of Louisville's 34 games. 11.8 points and 4.9 rebounds while playing roughly half a game (20 minutes) for Jeff Walz. 

The rebounding numbers and the playing time increased each season she was part of the Cardinals. She became one of the two most mentioned Cards part of the "M&M" duo that we read about on these pages for three years. Then, just like the separation of the left and right Twix, that combination was broken up. 

Fans wondered about the leaving of Mariya Moore for quite some time. The stated reason was to play her final season at home, closer to her parents, with her sister at USC. Then, there were the rumors. 

Myisha didn't concern her self with all that very much -- there was another star shining very brightly out of the southern sky, this time -- and Asia Durr soon became part of the new formed and appearing with rave reviews "Nite-nite" and "Doo-blay" duo. 

The double-doubles kept racking up. She worked on team unity, taking Sam Fuehring and Jazz Jones under her strong, muscular wing and providing advice and guidance during their freshmen years. She remembered how Shawnta Dyer helped ease her transition to college and she "paid it forward". MHA was a teammate, in the truest sense. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. She was there to see to the "many" needs. 

Where will she go, how soon? That is the Cardinals fans' question. The latest rumor is Atlanta grabs her in the second round as the 16th. pick and she is teamed up with another UofL great in Angel McCoughtry. We'll know by the time the clock strikes 10 tonight (to paraphrase from an old Cheap Trick song).


UofL WBB fans love to look ahead and speculate about "what's next?". In a season, in a roster -- it's a trait of the most devoted sports fans out there and a sure sign that these players, these student-athletes are not just November-April topic items but occupy our thoughts all 12 months instead of the aforementioned six. 

Paulie tells me that fans want to know who will replace her in the starting lineup. It is a valid question but -- I'll tell you -- there is no one person who can step in and do what Myisha's done at Louisville. Yes, there will be competition, front-runners, challengers to gain those minutes, to make up for those lost 14 points and almost 10 rebounds a game. Fans have their favorites and always will -- but I'll side with Coach Walz on this one and offer that it might be several players who fill in those graduated stats. 

No one, no one person, however, can ever replace Myisha Hines-Allen and what she has done and meant to Louisville.

Jeff Walz will tell your that there are no guarantees for starting roles. These roles are earned through hard work and results. Coach-speak aside, it is difficult to imagine that Asia, Jazz, Sam and Arica won't be on the court for the opening tip-off for the 2018-19 season. The cruel mistress named "injury" aside need not darken the Yum Practice Facility doorway is the fervent wish and hope here. 

Dana Evans is a strong candidate to fill in the numbers. Her play against Miss. St. gave us a glimpse into what she can become. Kylee Shook has the height and skills to breach the missing rebounding gap and points. Bionca Dunham has improved leaps and bounds since her freshman season and that stock will -- in all probability -- continue to go up. Sydney Zambrotta's shooting could reach new heights next year and she's already displayed solid defense and court awareness. Jessica Laemmle provides an emotional and hustle spark to the Cardinals' attack. Leave her alone at three-point range and you will pay dearly for the oversight.  

And, then, there are the five who will compete as "first timers". Lindsey Duvall was showing talents before her injury and subsequent red-shirt sidelined her. Loretta Kakala, the "burger girl" put in a lot of work during her red-shirt season to tone her body and game toward the college level. She has height and inside scoring skills.

Seygan Robins comes in as one of the most prolific players in Kentucky High School basketball history. She can light it up from the deep, inside and will be hard to stop in the Walz offense. Mykasa Robinson is a scorer, creator and lighting quick guard that will battle for a significant contributing role. Molly Lockhart has the height, body and determination to contribute greatly to the Cards' front line. 

So, you see, dear readers -- there are options galore and all tempting and viable to help the Cards next season and fill the gap of points, rebounds and hustle that Louisville loses in Myisha's graduation. Ultimately it comes down to who works the hardest and has success in game situations. And, how the coaches perceive and evaluate those in competition. 

It's more than that, though. Walz has built a wonderfully delightful, tight-knit, "all for one and one for all" roster at Louisville. Camaraderie, closeness, continuity and cohesiveness. They get it. They Kentucky state motto is "United We Stand, Divided We Fall". These young women stand quite united and, in the long run, that's so much more important and valuable than individual achievements and stat-sheet stuffing. As much joy in a teammate's achievements as your own.  

I wish I could have seen Myisha play more live. About the time she was headed to Louisville, the family and I were headed to Bradenton,Fl (via a disastrous, brief stop in Sarasota) from Muncie, IN. Yep, there is a huge difference in the drive to Louisville when your leaving from the Sunshine state compared to central Indiana. 

I followed her career via cable television, internet, this website and radio quite intently. When the team played in Florida, we'd be there -- often accompanied by Joe and Deloris Hill. An annual trip to Louisville to catch a couple of games each season. The opening two rounds in KFC YUM! Center. The unforgettable trip to the ACC Tournament this year and my and Mr. Hill's shenanigans. The sojourn to Talhassee. Those games against the USF Bulls in Tampa. 

I will miss you in a Louisville uniform, Myisha. Even though I never got to meet you. You are destined for greatness, though -- whether it is in professional sports, the business world or any other part of our society. 

I hope you end up with a WNBA team that appreciates your skills, your hard work and attitude and gives you a chance. I look forward to following your career and life from here on out. Thanks for the memories and I can't wait for the ones you're about to create. 

Yes. Just a simple "Thank You". For all of it. 

(I'm leaving the proof-reading and photo selection to Paulie for this article. Hopefully, he wakes up in time to have it done early.)

David Watson



  1. Nailed it, old buddy. Thanks for sharing your heart with us a little bit today, Dave-O and feel better soon, Paulie!

    -- The Real Joe Hill --

  2. Great stuff as always David! This broke after today's article but Jeff Walz has been named head coach to the 2018 USA U-18 basketball team. Congratulations to Walz (any excuse to go to Colorado, right?)


  3. Myisha has been one of my all-time favorite UofL athletes, not just for WBB. Her selfless, caring, motivated character puts her in the league of elites to walk through the door. It’s unfortunate in the sense that we no longer have her at UofL but wherever she goes it will be a great asset to them. Keep an eye on Myisha and report back in a couple years so we can see the post-collegiate success she has!

    Best wishes to her in the draft tonight.

  4. Myisha Hines-Allen(MHA) a burger girl five *****recuite ACC PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Ranks third in UofL History the WNBA would be crazy to pass up on she skill set.
    Thanks for the memories.


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