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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

USA U17 wins the gold!


(Columnist Jenny O'Bryan reviews the USA Women's U17 capturing of the Gold in other women's basketball news and a huge early season match for volleyball tonight.)

USA Women’s U17 women’s squad won the gold in Amsterdam on Sunday with a 75-62 win over Spain.  The squad went 8-0 on the road to the gold.  The 12 member squad was made up of 11 seniors in high school and one junior. 

The starting 5 remained the same for each game.  Diamond DeShields (UNC verbal), Rebecca Greenwell (former Uof L target, Owensboro, KY native), Taya Reimer (Indiana native and Notre Dame verbal), Mercedes Russell (top Uof L recruit) and Lindsay Allen (also a ND verbal).  While the starting 5 is a stud of a line-up, the remaining players on the team are all elite players and all played in every game, excepting Jessica Washington who was nursing a tweaked muscle of some sort.    The remaining roster consisted of Kaela Davis, Brianna Turner (lone junior on the squad), Linnae Harper, Oderah Chidom, Erica McCall and Kai James.  The team was so good and so deep that any combination of a starting five, I believe, could have brought home the gold. 

The team defeated South Korea, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Mali, Australia, Canada and Spain en route to the gold.  The smallest margin of victory was in the championship against Spain when USA won by a mere 13 points. 

While I had been following on line and twitter the success of these young women, I actually got to watch most of the championship game (when my computer was not stuck in a loop showing the same thing over and over again) on line at 

As a women’s basketball fan in general, the run to the gold was interesting in and of itself to me.  Of particular interest to Cardinal Couple readers, though, is the play of top U of L recruit Mercedes Russell and Rebecca Greenwell as a KY native  (and former highly sought after U of L recruit). 

Let’s start with Becca Greenwell.  Greenwell averaged 25 mpg, averaged .388 shooting percentage and .286 from beyond the arc.  She led the team in free throw percentage at .944 and also led the team in rebounds for the tournament at 58.  Greenwell's knee seemed to hold up well during this past summer season and her during her USA play.  That's great news for both her and which ever school she chooses to spend her collegiate career at.  Her final two consists of Duke and Notre Dame.  Greenwell tweeted something to the effect of she was heading home from Europe and completely healthy this time. (It was during overseas play last year that Greenwell tore her ACL which led to her junior season spent rehabbing while on the bench).  

Mercedes Russell led all players on the team with a shooting percentage of .640, was second behind Greenwell in rebounds with 55, and also led the team with total blocks with 13 for the tournament.   Russell also set a record in the first game vs. South Korea in a perfect shooting percentage of 8-8.  Finally, she led the entire tournament in the field goal percentage category with .640. 

In the championship game that I got to see most of, Russell did not get a whole lot of touches on the ball offensively, or so it seemed.  She was playing the high post and there was little to no offense running through her.  She did have a particularly good game defensively though, with 3 blocked shots and 2 steals in 24 minutes of play.   I was disappointed to see so little offense, but with an all-star team of the best in the class, there was plenty of offensive power on the team. 

A player that caught my eye was Linnae Harper.  Harper is a small guard that can play the 1,2 or 3 spot, and she does all the things that makes a team successful.  She is tough as nails, a fearless defender and is said to be a great rebounder for her size.  She led the team in steals with 34!  The next closest player to her in steals was Greenwell with 16.  She was also 4th on the team in rebounding.  As the smallest player on the court, that is quite an accomplishment.  I have continued to hear Harper’s name as potentially interested in Louisville.  All of the internet chatter is that she is a KY lean with a former teammate already on the squad there, though her name does come up as interested in Louisville.    It would be pretty exciting if we landed an official visit from this young player.   I am not saying that it will happen, but I would not be surprised if it did.  Rest assured I would be very excited if it did.   Keep your ear to the ground on this one.  You will want to watch her play in college, wherever that may be. 

Diamond Deshields was named MVP of the tournament and she and Linnae Harper were both named to the all tournament team. 

The talent on the team was deep.  All of the kids deserve a big congratulations for representing USA.  My purpose today was to simply speak about the kids with some sort of local connection.  Lots of good information regarding all of the games and coverage on all of the players and stats are available at this website:


On another basketball note, Sydney Brackemyre was spotted at the UofL/Penn State Volleyball game on this past Saturday evening.  It was a great night to bring a recruit to YUM, as tweeted by Cortnee Walton, there were “more people at the volleyball game than attend some basketball games.”  Louisville loves its sports teams!   I am glad Ms. Brackemyre was able to witness the fans love of the VolleyCards. 

I also had the pleasure to meet Monny Niamke at the volleyball game this past weekend.  She was with teammates ‘Nita Slaughter and Sherronne Vails as we all found ourselves in the elevator after the game together.    I welcomed her to Louisville and told her I look forward to seeing her on the court next season. 


Speaking of volleyball, Football is not the only team playing Kentucky this week!  Start the battle off right by finding your way down to the YUM center to watch our VolleyCards take on Kentucky this evening at 7:00 p.m.  

( Great work as usual today from our Jenny. CARDINAL FANS...We hope to see YOU down at the YUM! tonight cheering on the VolleyCards. Set, spike, celebrate!)



  1. Love the rotating bird in the article. Where did u find it?


  2. I hope r next jenny report includes 5 verbals.

  3. It seems that UK is going to take over WBB in this state if we don't recruit better.

  4. Package deals are always less secure and less desirable as it is near impossible to keep both happy with their current projected playing minutes and then adding the unknown addition of new signees which are visiting this fall. Throw in that daddy played for UK and I am shocked that they ever verbalized to UL to begin with.

    I would trade this years in-state players for any matching number of the visitors UL is hosting and I think that most others would also. I hope both players are and remain happy with their decision as they each seem like ok kids who will represent the state well.

    Ever heard of story of tortise and the hare? I think it may be best to wait until the end of recruiting season - the entire season - not just early signing and see how things look then. I seem to remember that Shoni did not commit until graduation day.

  5. I hope u r right we have one recruit for 2013 monny i think we will add mercedes n chong n a suprise like bria was then card nation will relax.


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