CARDS WBB IN CHARLOTTE
Head coach Jeff Walz and Cardinals WBB student-athletes Hailey Van Lith, Kasa Robinson and Olivia Cochran represented Louisville at the ACC WBB Tipoff Media in Charlotte on Tuesday. The players and Coach Walz were asked a variety of questions in two separate groups (the players in one and Walz in another) by ACC play-by-play and color analysts Debbie Antonelli, Kelsey Riggs, and Kelly Gramlich.
The players went first and hit the make-shift interview table in the Charlotte Westin Hotel at about 8:45 on the ACC Network. These things don't always go as planned, I tuned in to see Clemson at 8 a.m. but Amanda Butler and Amari Robonson weren't on.
The Cards were there, though and the players were asked about how the team looked so far in the pre-season. They mentioned the intensity of practices, the great athleticism of the squad and learning to use the talent on the current roster that is them for 2022-23. .
And, it is a group that has talent galore. Besides the three in Charlotte, Louisville has Norika Konno, Liz Dizon, Payton Verhulst and Merissah Russell back from last year's squad. They also have key transfers in Chrislyn Carr (C.C.), Josie Williams and Morgan Jones. Louisville also has five freshmen on the roster in Nyla Harris, Zyanna Walker, Jalyn Brown, Imani Lester and Alexis Mobley (who is a redshirt freshman).
They mentioned one of the key challenges for this year's squad, which is being able to adapt to the standard that has been established.
The new players on the Cards roster are working hard and fitting in with the returnees from last year. When asked about Morgan Jones, they indicated that she brings a different look and athleticism to the squad. They also talked about the indescribable and incredible fan support in Louisville and on campus for the women's basketball squad and the responsibilities of living up to that respect and love.
They were also asked about Jeff Walz. They mentioned the love that Walz has for the players on and off the court. That he was very, very good at what he does and how he does it and this great line from Cochran --- "he told me he is the smartest man in the world, and I believe him ."
The three are a very confident bunch and desperately want to get back to the Final Four again this season and win two more games than they did last year, once they get there.
Coach came on around noon and right off the bat, he was asked what it would take to get to the final four again. he mentioned the leadership, experience and skills of the returning players who went last year and also commented that you need a little luck as well.
And, of course, he's right. A made shot here, key rebound there, clutch defensive effort in a tough situation...shutting down an opponent's key player and getting a huge effort from your key players...so many things can go into getting to the Final Four.
When asked who would replace Emily Engstler, he mentioned that you don't actually replace her, that you have players step up and play their game. He sees his squad as one that has a lot of great players and a key is in seeing how they carry their off-season work into the regular season.
Like many on the broadcast before and after him, he sees five or six teams that could win the conference this season. Louisville, NC State, Va. Tech, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and even Miami. are all teams that are considered key contenders. It's a wide open ACC this year.
|(From Media Days past)|
Another thing he stated that was a key to a successful season was having the toughness and ability to change during a game to what works in matchups and style of play.
He spoke of Kasa's experience and her desire to win. She's a players that produces so many things besides scoring on the court and she's the first one to step up and play that solid defense that is a key to winning. He also spoke about some of the things he expects Morgan Jones to contribute, such as scoring, defending, rebounding and toughness.
He sees Hailey as an incredibly hard worker, but is proud that she's also learning how to work smarter and not always harder.
Earlier in the day, Walz had some interesting things to say about the transfer portal:
"I've said it for the past few years, and I'll say it again: I think the transfer portal it's all hyped up right now and it's going to be probably for another year because of COVID. We're sitting here, we've had five transfers in the past two seasons. Four of them would have never been able to transfer if it wasn't for the COVID year. Four of them played all four years at their institution. They graduated. They did exactly what they were asked to do. But because of COVID, they were given a free year. There's one more season of a free year, I believe, for players, the seniors that are currently now could move on and play. Kasa finished her four years, did everything I asked her. After last year, we sat down. I said, hey, if you want to transfer, if you want to use this COVID year to go someplace else to experience something, I'll support you a hundred percent, because she did everything I asked her to do".
All in all, a good showing for the Cards in their segments. Debbie Antonelli sid the Cards are the favorite to win the regular ACC season and, rather begrudgingly, Kelsey Gramlich agreed.
The season draws closer, and we can't wait to bring you the coverage.