CARDS AND BLUE DEMONS SQUARE OFF IN JIMMY V CLASSIC
It's a matchup between two top-20 squads today in Uncasville, CT at the Mohegan Sun Arena when #5 Louisville takes on #20 DePaul. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET and will reach a nationwide audience -- being shown on ESPN.
We all know the great success Louisville has had to start their 2020-21 campaign. so let's concentrate on the Cards foe today as we get you ready for this one. The DePaul Blue Demons come in at 1-1. They fell to a very good Texas A&M squad 93-91 to begin their season and then romped Chicago State 128-66 after that. They set an all-time high for points scored in the Chicago State game, put six players in double figures and forced 19 first-half turnovers in the contest.
DePaul put up an eye-popping 40 first-quarter points against the Cougars and led 67-32 at the half. 50-83 from the floor gave the Blue Demons a 60.2% shooting percentage in the game and they also fared well from beyond the three-point line, making 19 of their 30 attempts.
It was a reserve -- Kendall Holmes -- who led the way for Doug Bruno's squad with 23 point and she went 6-8 from three point range. Homes, a 5'11" freshman had to be a pleasant surprise for Bruno -- she played a scant three minutes against Texas A&M, missed her only shot and had two turnovers and two fouls. How effective she'll be against the Cards defense remains to be seen.
I'll look at a few others as threats to the Cards and I'll start with Sonya Morris. This 5'10" junior guard has had outing of 22 and 21 points and has shot 54% from the floor. She's made six threes in two games -- Bruno's squad is in love with the three and has hoisted 63 of then in their two games -- hitting 28 for a 44% percentage. Last year Morris was named the Big East Tournament's Most Outstanding Player and she's on this year's Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List
Dee Bekalja and Lexi Held are a couple of 5'10" guards who also have been filling up the bucket early for the Blue Demons. Held (19.0 ppg) has been named to the 2020-21 Naismith Trophy Watch List. Bekalja has logged the most minutes on the court for DePaul and averages 19.0 points an outing.
(Will the Blue Demons "go to Church"?)
Deja Church transferred to the Blue Demons after two years at Michigan and averages 17 points a game. She played in 30 games last year for Bruno and the 5'11" senior was third last year in the Big East in free throw shooting percentage. Freshman Darriane Rogers bears some watching as well, she comes in with very respectable credentials, including honorable mention her senior year to the Naismith Trophy All-American Watch List.
So, will this be a run-and-gun-, up-and-down the court shoot-out that many are predicting? A lot of our readers are predicting both teams score in the eighties for this one and the pressure is going to be on Walz's squad to control the tempo and pace of the game and try to keep DePaul's guards at bay.
On the other hand, Louisville is just about any opposing coach's worst nightmare and the Cards can come at you in waves. Evans, VanLith, Cochran, Smith, Russell, Parker, Konno, Balogun and Dixon and on-and on -- the roster has an all-star feel and makeup to it and the Cards have quieted both their opponents, allowing just 60 points-per-game average and allowing just a 30% success rate from the floor. A hustling, multi-faceted defense has 24 steals and 17 blocked shots.
I expect the Cards to create an enormous amount of defensive pressure on the Blue Demons and that'll develop, hopefully, into something Louisville has excelled at this season -- points-off-turnovers. DePaul hasn't encountered Louisville's length yet this season and if Evans and crew are able to go at full-tilt and speed, it could be an early evening for the Blue Demons.
It should be a fun one. If you tired of Rebecca Lobo's call of the game and her sometimes obvious attempt to build up a Louisville foe and dress down the Cards -- go to Nick Curran and AJ on 790 Cards Radio WKRD. What else would you expect of an ex-UConn Huskies player, right?
If you were wondering who the six multiple Wooden WBB Award winners were that we asked you to try and recall earlier this week...here you go:
2019 and 2020 -- Sabrina Ionescu
2015 and 2016 -- Breanna Stewart
2012 and 2013 -- Brittney Griner
2009 and 2011 -- Maya Moore
2007 and 2008 -- Candace Parker
2005 and 2006 -- Seimone Augustus
And, we've had nine entries in the "pick the Louisville vs. DePaul score "contest. It's not too late to play, just enter you pick in the comments section. I finally got Sonya's pick -- she says Cards 71 - DePaul 61.
Have a fortunate Friday. Stay safe, wash, mask and sanitize and be sure to join us for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast tomorrow at 11 a.m.