Thursday, February 7, 2019
Louisville women's basketball faces the Orange tonight -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
#14 SYRACUSE COMES TO TOWN AT 17-4
Jeff Walz has talked about the tough stretch to start February throughout the season. The Cards, over a two week period, started with Clemson, bring in Syracuse, go to Virginia Tech and host Miami in the stretch. With Clemson dispatched on Saturday, Louisville turns to the next test...a Thursday night visit from Quentin Hillsman's Syracuse Orange WBB squad.
Syracuse is a squad that takes nearly half their field goal attempts from beyond the three-point arc (625 out of 1405). They make 32% of those threes (200 out of those 625). When they're not bombing away from the deep, they employ a full-court press on defense, hoping to get a turnover/transition game started. SU will drop back into a 2-3 zone if they don't create the turnover. Syracuse forces a lot of turnovers...416 total for almost 20 a game.
So, how does #2 UofL counteract this type of defensive pressure? Coach Walz didn't reveal a lot about that aspect of Syracuse's game, except to stress his players and staff had studied the scouting report and that Louisville would have to rebound and score. The Cards haven't faced a defense quite like this so far. How they handle the press will be a key aspect of this game and how they perform against the zone...can they have the success they've had from three-point range continue?
The Syracuse losses have come at Oregon (73-75), at Minnesota (81-83 in overtime), at Georgia Tech (55-65) and hosting Miami (71-84). They haven't faced Notre Dame and NC State yet or Florida State. Key wins are Texas A&M, Clemson and North Carolina.
Who has been getting it done for "Q"'s squad? Tiana Mangakahia leads the Orange in scoring with 15.9 points a night. She also leads them in assists with 8.1 per contest. The 5'6" junior guard from Australia was selected for the preseason All-ACC squad and hasn't disappointed.
Containing her is a huge "must" for the Cards tonight.
Guards Gabrielle Cooper and forward Miranda Drummond are also double digit scorers for Syracuse. Digna Strautmane had a five-game double digit scoring stretch in January and 6'4" center Amaya Finklea-Guity was named to the 2017-18 All ACC Freshman team. Off the bench, Q employs Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi on the front line and guards Kiara Lewis, Isis Young and Emily Engster.
SU has a large contingent of international players on the roster. Of the 16 that dress for games, three are from France, one from the Czech Republic, one from Canada, one from Latvia and one from Australia.
And, then, there is "Q". He came to Syracuse thirteen years ago, so his and Walz's head coaching career are pretty much congruent. Hillsman is widely known for his flashy, stylish game-day dressing displays, a manic, expressive and emotional coaching style and has been described as "the Temptations performing at a basketball game".
He's probably my favorite opposing coach to watch on the women's college basketball sidelines and, over the years, has performed impromptu interviews with the opponent's radio crew during the contest, come back enraged from the locker room after a game to belabor a point and passed out from exhaustion/excitement during a game.
Another tough test in the ACC. A coach that comes in 280-140 lifetime in his career but just 5-8 against Walz. The Cards lead the overall series 10-6. A chance for the Cards to stay in bed with their fellow first place bunk-mates (NC State and Notre Dame) and a chance for Syracuse to knock off one of the front runners. Notre Dame goes to Miami tonight and NC State travels to Florida State, so we'll be keeping our eyes on those two key games.
As for this game, it's on the ACCNE with Don, Sara and Cortnee (the cookie monster) on the sidelines. Radio with Nick and AJ on 790 WKRD AM Cards Radio. A 7 p.m. start that will be officiated by Karen Preato, Jennifer Rezac and Jules Gallien.
You might remember Karen. She was the lone female on the crew that whistled 43 fouls (28 on Louisville) back on 1/10/19 in South Bend when the Cards fell to Notre Dame.
We'll recap the action here tomorrow.
JEFF WALZ PRE-SYRACUSE PRESSER
Coach Walz met with the media yesterday for his weekly press conference. An entertaining and factual 20 minutes ensued, with Walz talking about Monopoly, Jr, Coach Q, the Play-4-Kay Free Throw Challenge and many other items.
WE have it linked up for you below. You can actually hear the questions we were asking Walz since the old "pass a microphone to the question-asker" strategy was employed and it worked pretty well for the most part.
It's worth a view.
LINK: WALZ PRE-SYRACUSE PRESS CONFERENCE
Have a terrific Thursday. The monsoon season continues outside here locally. We have the staff chimps here at Cardinal Couple following Case's blueprint and design for a Cardinal Couple Ark. So far, they've gone through a barrel of nails, 451 2X4's, 18 injuries and a vessel that looks like a combination of a tree-house, stack of pallets and Tom Hanks' raft from the movie "Cast Away".
Hope springs eternal.