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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Cardinal Couple -- Mercedes down to two and a look at Sherrone Vails.


-Mercedes Russell: Louisville or Tennessee

-Sherrone Vails

The most highly sought after player in the class of 2013 has narrowed her college choices down to two schools. Mercedes Russell, a 6'5" post player from Springfield, Oregon, has announced that she'll be attending college at either Tennessee or Louisville. 

Russell, the #1 player in the 2013 class, is scheduled to visit Louisville between Oct 26-28th. according to several CARDINAL COUPLE sources. Also touring the campus at that time will be Emmonie Henderson, whose stock has been rapidly rising in the 2013 class. 

The UofL women's basketball team will be well into preseason practice by that time, so both girls will be able get a first hand view on how Jeff Walz and the Louisville coaches practice their trade. 

A contrast in schools on Ms. Russell's list. Louisville...rapidly growing in fan base and national recognition...with the state of the art KFC YUM! Center as their home base and top 10 pre-season ranked program for 2012-13 season. An athletic director and associates committed to Title IX and growth in all sports on campus. Often recognized as the "best college sports town" in America, the school plays in the toughest conference in women's basketball...the BIG EAST.

Then there is Tennessee. Rocked by the retirement of legendary Pat Summitt. One of the few schools that give a fair footing to women's basketball in a conference known for SEC football and Kentucky men's basketball. Still with a large attendance base but mired in controversy over the combining of the men's and women's athletic departments and dismissal of key people in women's sports. Once powerful, the Lady Vols torch doesn't burn quite as brightly as in past years. 

Russell is one of those few players that has the ability to be a program changer, a powerful paint-player who works well within a team concept and and take over a game at either end of the court. 

She'd look awfully good in the Cardinal Red and Black.


( CARDINAL COUPLE has been preview the players on the 2012-13 squad. WE look at junior Sherrone Vails today.) 

At 6'4", the Cardinal center is the tallest member of the team and seems to have the arm-span of a seven-footer. More often than not, Vails can be seen running out to Sean Moth's introduction as the starting center for the Cards and she's on every coaches' list as a shot-blocker and threat underneath the basket. 

A member of the BIG EAST All-Freshman team in the 2010-11 season, Vails has a clearly defined role as one of Jeff Walz's regular front-line players. She's led Louisville in blocked shots since she arrived on campus. 

Vails set the school record for blocked shots in a game with seven against Houston Baptist in her freshman year and also set the Louisville freshman record with 48 blocks. 

Vails is not one-dimensional, however. Possessing a soft shot around the rim, she's a threat to score inside if the defense extends to cut off outside shooting. With her wide-span and height, she is an effective defender and has the ability to block out on both ends of the court.  

As she enters her junior season at Louisville, she's the heir apparent to start in the post for the Cards and...despite averaging only 15 minutes per game as a Cardinal...her presence underneath the basket on both ends of the court can force an opposing coach to think twice about having guards penetrate the paint. 

She probably won't be a scoring leader for Louisville this season, but will be an important part of a Cardinal front-line that uses rotation and substitutions effectively to ensure fresh players and alive legs are on the court at all times. 

We can see Vails providing an important paint presence for the Cards and she is already 11th. all-time in blocked shots at UofL. 

A phrase that Cardinal opponents may want to remember. 

"Shooting inside against Vails...fails."  


2011-12   26   33  14.4  76     33   103  3.1
2010-11   10   35  16.3  84     48   163  4.7

( Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with Sonja. Although I did very little as far as contributing to today's article, I did come up with the Vails' phrase. Have a great Sunday!) 



  1. Russell and Henderson would give Louisville an incredible 1-2 punch on the front line for four years. I hope the Cards are successful.

    Detroit Breakdown

  2. Don't forget Alexandria Harris! If we land Russell, Henderson, and Harris....Our front line may equal UCONN'S

    1. No doubt that a 2013 front line that featured Russell, Henderson, Harris, Dyer, Vails, Hammond and Walton would make most opponent coaches reach for the Rolaids and aspirin.
      Add Shoni, Bria, Monney, Tia, Jude, Nita and Megan and...well, it's pretty amazing, don't you agree?


  3. If we could land Mercedes, would that be icing on the cake or what? Crossing my fingers and toes!

  4. We beat Bria out for Tennessee. I think we can do the same with Mercedes. Anyone know if we have a chance of stealing Chong from UCONN?

    1. Chong is coming for a visit and our facilities and coaching staff equal anyone's. What UofL needs to do is sell her on the idea that she can come in, play immediately and be a big scoring threat in a transition-type offense that UofL runs.

      Curtis Franklin

  5. I was thinking the same. UCONN fans seem to think they have her in the bag but they have two guards who were top 20 players coming out of HS sitting on the bench.

  6. While everyone else is focused on the 2013 recruiting class, I want to go on the record as saying that the key to the 2012-13 season is Vails. The team has a log jam at the 3 and 4, but Vails is the only true 5. Her defense, including rebounding are critical, and she can also create her own shot inside (see first basket of second half against Maryland).
    I also believe that Vails was underutilized last season, and the Lady Cards were worse off because of it. (The underutilization actually started in the 2011 game against Gonzaga when Walz went small when Reid was injured.) Notice that her minutes were down in 2011-12, notwithstanding the 2011 graduation of Hines, the season-ending injury to Reid, and the mid-season transfer of Warren. Without a strong post presence from Vails and a commitment to playing inside out, the Lady Cards don't get past the Sweet 16 in 2012-13.
    --PDX Phil

    1. No commitment to playing inside out? Shawnta had 30+ points in the paint vs MSU and Maryland. Sheronne is too physically weak to bang in the paint and usually gets out muscled for rebounds.


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