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Thursday, January 26, 2012

For's learning and waiting...Weds. BIG EAST WBB recap


-Rockcastle County's Sara Hammond learning the ropes

-Weds BIG EAST results

-Softball CARDS ranked 24th in preseason polling

Sara is fifth on the Lady Cards in rebounding

Sara Hammond is one of the three true freshmen on the 2011-12 Louisville women's basketball team. Highly recruited out of Rockcastle County High School, the All-American chose the Lady Cards over Connecticut. And, her regular season debut was impressive...scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds against Missouri State. Several days later, seven rebounds at Eastern Kentucky. Another big effort against Xavier with eight grabs and six points. She led the Lady Cards with nine rebounds in a win over Tennessee-Martin. 

Once BIG EAST play began in earnest, though...the minutes and production have dropped off for the 6'2" forward. Cause for alarm and worry? Not at all. All part of the freshman learning curve against the best conference in women's college basketball. 

Ask 99% of the freshmen who step on the court after being leaders and stars on their high school teams. The college game is at a whole different level. The learning curve comes at you fast and each day is another lesson in competing against upper-classmen -- in games and in practice -- teammates who have been there, done that and learned from experience, patience and the occasional poor performance. 

It can be trying, especially after the early successes against lesser opponents than the ones the Lady Cards are now facing in the BIG EAST. There will be times where the playing time is scant or other players perform while you watch. 

Such are the lessons in life. A hard-worker in practice and vocal leader on the bench...Sara's time will come. The experience she gains while watching in game, coupled with the daily battles in practice against the more experienced Louisville front-liners will go a long way toward success later in her career. Everyone develops at their own pace. Everyone has their role. 

We get a lot of e-mails here at CARDINAL COUPLE about women's basketball. More than any other UofL women's sport. A lot of them are in question form. We get asked a lot about Sara, more so lately...when the playing time for her is less frequent and the totals lower. 

We're no coaches here. We don't see what goes on daily on the practice courts or in individual instruction. We feel confident, though, that the UofL coaches have a plan for her and she'll be one of the shining stars for the Lady Cards in the future. 

In the meantime, the learning and knowledge continues. 
Entitlement for some players is an issue. Wanting a certain number of minutes a game, a certain amount of touches, points, rebounds.

Then, you have players like Hammond. Ready to contribute however and whenever she can. Not hung up over the stat line. Giving what she can when she's called on. No sulking or attitude problems.

You tell me which kind of player you'd rather coach and have on your team.

No need to worry about Sara Hammond. As Frank Sinatra once crooned..."the best is yet to come and won't that be fine!"


Games played - 19
Games started - 6
Minutes per game - 13.3
Points per game - 3.5
Rebounds per game - 4.0 (76 total)
Shooting % - .333 (29-87)
Fouls - 42


Only two BIG EAST games on the board for Wednesday night....

UConn destroyed another BIG EAST foe with a 95-54 demolishing of Syracuse. The 'Cuse was actually in this one for awhile, down only 40-33 at the half and cutting the visiting Huskies advantage to five early in the second half. It didn't last. Hayes goes for 35 against the Orange, Mosqueda-Lewis adds 19 and Hartley 18 for Geno's gals.

South Florida used a 18-2 second half run to defeat Seton Hall in Tampa. The Bulls trailed 26-21 at the half and 35-23 with 15 minutes to go before charging through the ring and winning 57-45.
Jasmine Wynne with 19 for USF. The Pirates did silence the Russian Rocket Inga Orekhova to 0-7 on 3-point shooting and just 5 points...but it wasn't enough to get them their first BIG EAST win.


Good news for Sandy Pearsall's softball Cards...they've been ranked 24th. in preseason voting for women's college fast-pitch softball. This from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Despite  being ranked higher than the Lady Cards in the BIG EAST Pre-Season picks...Notre Dame, Syracuse and DePaul did not make the top 25. Go figure.

Plenty of returning stars for the Ulmer Stadium sluggers and some talented freshmen on board as well.

Losing the left side of your infield after four years is tough and Chelsea Bemis and Colby Wherry will be missed...but Pearsall has plenty of talent to choose from to find replacements. The pitching is solid and Jordy Trimble returns after a season off because of a broken ankle. Alas, no BIG EAST Tournament at Ulmer this year...but plenty of chances to watch the girls at Ulmer for regular season and BIG EAST Conference play.

Louisville begins their season Feb. 10-12 in Miami at the Florida International University Combat Classic. (Better there than somewhere like Syracuse or Maine...)

(and....the Cards received no votes in women's ice hockey or water polo pre-season polls. Oh, that's right...UofL doesn't field a team in either. Yet. Never say never when Tom Jurich is your A.D.)


  1. Amen on Sara. She is a budding star. We sit 4 rows behind the bench and she is TEAM all the way ! It takes the Bigs a little longer to get used to banging with folks 4 years older. If you watched the Tenn-ND game, you know how important the bigs are - and they are all upper classmen.


  2. I'm a big Sara fan and I have to disagree slightly with the "wait and see" attitude. Sara needs 15-20 minutes a game and needs to play every night out. I also agree with Phil's statements here on the blog about playing the Bigs more. Basketball in the BIG EAST is brutal. You need big bodies blocking out, rebouding, creating inside and keeping guards from penetrating. Walz should have three on the court at all times.

    The real Izzy

    1. I will absolutely be devastated if frustration ot loss of confidence overwhelms Sara and we were to loose her as she is exactly the type of person we want on our team.
      I think she can become a major player for us but she needs time on the playing floor. Major error not to have given her more floor time during pre-conference play. Correct and teach her to avoid the fouling and put her on the floor to contribute. Many games I would have traded some extra rebounds that she produces in exchange for the turnovers committed by others.

  3. Hope she is not thinking about transferring or anything else drastic, hope she understands that learning the college game and putting in the hard work it requires will lead to more playing time. Not all freshmen are built to contribute much in their first year, but some turn out to be stellar juniors and seniors, which I think Sara has the potential for.
    And I have commented before about fans who think they know more about a team than it's head coach does. It was pertaining to Pitino, but I'll repeat it here. If you think you are head coach material, apply for an opening, and if you get it, start listening to fans about how to run your team!

  4. Coach Walz is an exceptional coach. Look at what he has done with this team. 3rd in the Big East, 4 loses total after losing two starters. Plus, this has been accomplished with mostly Freshmen and Sophomores. I trust that Walz is playing who has earned the playing time and those that can win games. Sara had her chance just like everybody else. I am sure that she will adjust and make an impact soon. Walz has tried to play her, but when she comes in she misses an easy rebound or turns the ball over. I would rather win games then see any one player get time on the court. Go Cards!

  5. The guess here is that Hammond stays. Although no BIGS graduate this year and the Cards will be getting Mo back and a decent high school BIG in Cortnee Walton, Sara knows the game and is a proven rebounder. Depth on the front line is always good. Recall the 2009-10 season when there was no depth and pretty much Keisha, Gwen, Asia, Rainey (before she left) and a few guards. Don't want to return to those days of horror.

  6. Hammond will be at EKU next year, sit out a year and have three to play. Wait and see.

  7. I view Hammond as one of the prime causalties of Walz's decision to go with a 3 or 4-guard line-up. Example: Harper 7.8 minutes per game in conference games v. 6.7 mpg for Hammond in conference play. I won't repeat here all the reasons why I think that's a mistake.

    Instead, I will address the point I think that the author is making, which is that we shouldn't expect freshmen to see significant playing time once conference play rolls around (unless, perhaps your name is Moore or Schimmel). From the high school class of 2011, five of the 12 top-rated players according to ESPN's HoopGurlz went to Big East Schools. Here are those players, listed by their HoopGurlz Rank, with their minutes per game IN CONFERENCE PLAY (with one noted exception) shown:

    1. Mosqueda-Lewis (UConn) 27.8 mpg (couldn't find separate break-out for conference play, but she's third on the team in minutes played)

    6. Canty (Rutgers) 19.0 mpg

    8. Smith (Louisville) 30.4 mpg

    11. Laney (Rutgers) 19.9 mpg

    12. Hammond (Louisville) 6.7 mpg

    --PDX Phil

    1. Again with the apples-oranges comparison. Harper comes in as strictly a point guard, nothing else (not counting those few minutes when Shelby and Jude where in the game at the same time). Really not understanding why you keep pushing this, and would like to know if you A) think Shoni should play point guard 40 minutes a game, B) think Sara should play point guard, or C) think any of the other bigs should relieve Shoni at point guard. Jude's and Shelby's minutes have no direct bearing on Sara's minutes.
      What I've noticed lately is that either Jude (mostly) or Shelby sub in for Bria or Shoni, then Bria or Shoni sub in for the other, and that means there is always Bria or Shoni on the court at the two spot.
      I think I get what you mean, though, about the mostly guard lineup. I think you would like to see Becky play more at the 2 spot than the 3, giving the frontcourt duties to Nita, Asia, Cierra, Shawnta', Sara, and Sherrone. That still does not guarantee Sara more minutes, and would still have no bearing on Shelby and Jude's minutes.

    2. Kstarksr, to answer your questions:

      A. In competitive games, I think Shoni should play close to 40 min, all at the point. (I realize she can play the 2, but the team needs her more at the point.)
      B. No
      C. No
      The second sentence in your last paragraph is a pretty accurate statement of my view - I've been saying play 3 bigs all along - with one important qualification: I think Nita can play the 2 as well as the 3. I agree that the foregoing does not guarantee Sara more minutes, but my proposed scheme would open up a significant number minutes at the 3, and Sara would have an opportunity for those minutes, as well as backing up Dyer at the 4. In my view, the 3 is where the Cards have been getting killed on the boards, and I think Sara is a great rebounder.
      --PDX Phil

  8. Phil,
    While one can not deny the facts of your above stats, it is not a fair comparison, IMHO. All of the above mentioned players are primarily perimeter players, with the exception KML. (Personally, I do not think you can include KML in the comparison as she has freakish athletic ability, as is evidenced as the number one pick in the country, her skills are at a different level coming in). Sara is playing interior, power forward/post positioning on the court.
    It has long been understood it is a more difficult process for interior players to transition to the college level. So comparing minutes between interior and perimeter players hardly seems fair.
    Additionally, Sara has not had the upper class leadership of an interior player( i.e. Mo) to learn from on the court. Your comparisons are apples to oranges.

    Did I personally think Sara would have hit the ground running quicker, yes. She has gotten a lot of opportunity in the early season, and a lot of opportunity to play through mistakes (as is evidenced by fouling out). Without the learning opportunity that could have been provided by a healthy Mo, it has made the transition even harder, Ibelieve, for Sara.

    Do I worry that maybe Sara is not happy with how this season has played out so far, sure. Am I concerned that she could transfer to another, less demanding conference, and contribute from the start. Sure, a little bit. I can not imagine the leap from big fish in a little pond to small fish in a big pond. I would think it has to take great strength of character, a love for the game, an understanding and faith that you will further develop, and incredible work ethic to adapt to the leap from high school senior stand out, to a college freshman trying to get her sea legs. Add to that, playing in the toughest conference in women's basketball and the injury bug sidelining top talent and you have a recipe for, well, exactly what we are seeing.

    I hope Sara sees her value at Louisville and in the Big East. She is tailor made for this conference. She has a lot of skill and will be a tremendous contributor to the team and this program. I choose to trust in Coach Walz's ability and Sara's impeccable work ethic and character.

    1. Jenny -
      My comparison wasn't intended to be a criticism of Sara. I think she should be playing a lot more than she is.
      --PDX Phil

    2. I understand. Sorry if my reply suggested you were being critical of Sara. I am very clear that is saved for coach walz. :-0
      I like your three "bigs" theory.
      I just did not like your comparing of sara's minutes played to those of other freshman, who were more perimeter players.
      I am hopeful she will get some meaningful time today! Hope you have a way to watch today's matchup.

  9. When Paul wrote the article, it was to give a positive outlook on Sara. We've received more than a few e-mails expressing concern about her recent lack of playing time and production.

    As far as freshmen production, which really wasn't the intended theme of the article..but a by-product of all goes back to the proven theory that different players develop at different rates and progressions.

    Angel McCoughtry didn't start as a freshman. Candyce Bingham sat the bench for two years at Xavier. They turned out pretty well.


  10. enjoyed reading all the replys and comments. I was at the game yesterday and heard the ovation from the crowd when Hammond got up to go in and I witnessed the countless youth who waited for her autograph. Sounds like she definitely has the backing of UofL fans. I'm not a college coach, however, if I were I would find a way to give important game minutes to someone I was counting on for the future, whether it's immediate future or "down the road." Having been around sports for much of my life I know that minutes are earned by how you practice and it should be. This is a young team, that's why there's not a lot of consistency, but, as a friend of mine told me, "I'd find 10-12 minutes a game if I had a McDonald's All-American on my bench." Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't she turn down Connecticut, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and a host of other schools. Not everybody get's recruited by Uconn, so the talent is there and being a kid from Kentucky, the drawing power she will have for Cardinal basketball is huge.

  11. As fans an with some privledged access to inside the program, we can only put our confidence and trust in the Walz way of doing things. We'd love to see Sara get 20+ a game...but just because we're like the little kids who flock around her...we adore her and hope the best for her. Was refreshing and great to see Asia have a big game yesterday. She's been Sonja's favorite since she arrive o campus and and one of mine, too.

    As fans, we can speculate, comment, even second-guess playing rotations, minutes and philosophies....the bottom line is that this UofL team is 17-4 and 6-2 in the BIG EAST, without Mo and Tia, and we'll take that any day of the matter who is out on the court. Walz will tell you that certain players are better for certain situations. Yesterday, the absence of Warren and limited time for Hammond was neccesitated by the lineup Villanova was using. It'll change against DePaul, then WVU, and throughout the rest of the season.

    Personally speaking, if he's able to win with what's out there...I tip my hat, raise my glass and give him and the staff props. As all fans should.

    And (from Sonja) PLAY A-TAYY MORE, JEFF!!! (LOL)



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