#1 vs #2 TONIGHT
It goes down tonight in South Bend. The University of Louisville women's basketball squad faces #1 Notre Dame. ESPN bringing in the big guns....Adam Amin, Rebecca Lobo, Kara Lawson and Holly Rowe. A sold out crowd of 9149 in the Purcell Pavillion ready for the contest. The biggest game of the season, so far, for the Cards.The sixth top 25 opponent of the season for Notre Dame. Asia vs. Arike. Are you ready?
Notre Dame plays very well in Purcell. In their last 105 games there, they have lost three times. All to UConn. Louisville last visited there on Feburary 6th, 2017 and took a 85-66 loss.
So, what about these Irish? They are at 14-1 on the 2018-19 season, the lone loss coming to UConn on December 2nd., a 89-71 defeat. In common opponents, both have played Duke and UND down them 82-64. The Cards took a 73-51 win over the Blue Devils. Both have gone up against WKU. The Cards getting a 102-80 win there to start the season. Notre Dame having the Hilltoppers at Purcell and dismissing them on December 19th 94-53.
The Irish squad has plenty of talent. Arike Ogunbowale leads them in field goal attempts (252) field goals made (123) total points (331), free throw attempts (86), free throws made (66) and points per game (22.1). Look for Jackie Young as the set-up student athlete, her assist to turnover ratio is 2.33. Brianna Turner has 33 blocks this year and has had over 80 in the previous three seasons she has played. On the boards, it's Jessica Shepard -- 9.5 rebounds a game. Add "do-everything" Marina Mabrey, back after an early season quadricep injury to that starting lineup and averaging 14.3 points per game and they look very impressive. All but Young were selected to the pre-season ALL-ACC Coaches Panel and Blue Ribbon panel squads. All but Young are seniors or graduate students.
The Irish average 52.7 points in the paint so far this year and that's where the Cards will have to be able to contain them. They allow a mere 27.2 points in the paint.
Louisville is undefeated at 14-0. They have played and defeated two top 25 teams. They are one of two teams undefeated on the season, after Ohio fell to Central Michigan last night 88-70 in Athens, OH. The Cards defeated CMU 72-68 before Christmas break. The other undefeated squad besides the Cards is NC State and the Wolfpack goes up against Pitt tonight in Raleigh.
This is the Cards first ever participation in a #1 vs. #2 match-up. They have Asia Durr.
The Cards learned yesterday that "Nite-nite" had been named to the John Wooden mid-season top 25 list. She's one of five ACC players on that list. Ogunbowale, Young and Shepard from Notre Dame are on there. So is Tiana Mangakahia from Syracuse.
The Cards' talent is deep beside Durr, though. Arica Carter is a dangerous three-point threat. Jazmine Jones is the Cards "do-everything" player. Sam Fuehring provides the inside muscle, along with Kylee Shook and Bionca Dunham. Dana Evans comes off the bench with speed, quickness, scoring and defensive intensity. Lindsey Duvall is 12-28 from three-point range this season. Hoe big a factor will she and freshman defensive specialist Mykasa Robinson be? Louisville is probably the better team in terms of depth. Louisville is a quicker squad that Notre Dame and they have won the last two contests against pretty much this same Notre Dame lineup.
Jeff Walz will tell you offensive accuracy and cutting down on turnovers are two keys to this one for the Cards. He expects a game "in the eighties" and he'll probably see that come close to fruition.
Notre Dame will be fired up, seeking revenge and I fully expect them to come out strong and try to bury the Cards early. Louisville needs to withstand the early attempts at the knockout punch and try to create a big first quarter, like they did against UNC, NKU, Miami and Kentucky.
We heard from Arica Carter and Jeff Walz yesterday. They previewed the game, the season and other things for the media in about a 1/2 hour press conference. You can see and hear that presser below.
|We wonder what our buddy Tom's choice is tonight?
We apologize that you can't hear the questions very well on the feed above. If you want a better quality audio where you can hear the questions but with no video, try the link below:
LINK: WALZ AND CARTER 1/9/19 (AUDIO ONLY)
I urge you to review the presser. Walz and Carter are loose, engaged and ready to go take care of business. I got the same out of the entire team while watching practice yesterday. A chance to do what every player dreams of, come to school for. A chance to play "in a big-one", under the national spotlight and show what they've got.
A potentially important factor will be the officiating. No "TV" Dee Kanter for this one. The crew will be Eric Brewton, Kevin Dillard and Karen Preato. They call a lot of ACC contests and the Cards are familiar with their game-management.
Another sideline is McGraw vs. Walz. The history between those two is well-documented.
Eric Crawford was at yesterday's presser. He has an interesting take on tonight's match-up. Read it at the link below:
LINK: CARDS VS. IRISH
Here we go. The highlight of the Cards WBB season so far. Louisville has been outscoring opponents by 20.0+ game a year this season. They probably don't get that huge a win tonight (in fact, another website has conducted a poll and 95% of the participants predict a Notre Dame win) but I will go in a different direction. UConn gave Coach Walz another blueprint on how to defeat the Irish earlier this season. UofL and Durr "show up" for the big games and the Cards have won 11 straight ACC road games.
How do I see it? A win for the Red and Black tonight in South Bend is how I see it. Let's say 80-75. Asia has a huge, Asia Durr-type game and the Cards go to 15-0. Jaz thrills the watchers, Arica buries a few threes and Sam "does work" inside against the taller Irish.
Regardless, though, of the outcome...it's a wonderful thing to see the Cards in the national spotlight. This is what they play for. Let's do it. We'll have a full recap tomorrow here at CARDINAL COUPLE.
Today is "wear red" day to support our squad in Sound Bend. You know you look good in red, so...do it !!
Your thoughts on the contest? Let us know in the comments section.
OFF TOPIC, BUT...
-- Louisville MBB lost a exciting one last night at Pitt. Overtime. Half of Pitt's squad fouled out it seemed. The Cards unable to hit the big buckets in O.T., though.
-- A player Cardinal fans grew to know over 2018, Maori Davenport, has been ruled ineligible for her senior high school season in Alabama. This seems a bit unfair, if you ask me, but...you decide. It won't affect her eligibility at Rutgers, though, in the 2019-20 season. The article link below:
LINK: MAORI MISCHIEF?
-- Yay! For Wilma Rivera ! She's been picked for the Puerto Rican National team. Louisville Volleyball's premier setter is all that...
-- After watching the WBB squad "do work" yesterday, I did wander over to the Louisville Lacrosse Stadium to watch them practice for a few minutes. A lively and spirited session, which was impressive given the cold and windy weather we're experiencing. Go LouLAX !