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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Battle in the Bluegrass

Sunday Cardinal Couple

-Are you ready? It's Cards vs. Cats Sunday at 6 p.m.

( We happily give the pre-game preview from our most excellent columnist Jenny O'Bryan. We are so pleased and impressed with her synopsis that we are foregoing inserting any pictures. The straight and un-diluted Jenny...coming right at you....Enjoy it. We'll have the game recap later today.)  

The Louisville Cardinals defend an 8-0 start today at The KFC YUM Center at 6:00 p.m. with a nationally televised game (ESPNU) pitting two top 10 ten teams against each other, and a inter-state rivalry like no other.  The Battle of the Bluegrass!  Louisville Cardinals vs. Kentucky Wildcats, #6 vs. #8, and both led by young coaches who are changing the landscape of women’s basketball in the state of Kentucky. 

Kentucky leads the overall series 30-17,and they won last years match up 74-54.  The home team has won each of the last 4 match ups (convincingly) and Louisville looks to keep the home team winning ways alive for another year. 

The Wildcats enter the matchup 5-1 with their only loss coming to Baylor.  They are led by Louisville native, senior All-American candidate A’dia Mathies who is averaging 14.5 ppg, who also leads the team in assists, steals and 3 point shots made.   Junior forward Samarie Walker leads on the boards averaging 8 boards per game and junior forward  DeNesha Stallworth leads the team with 11 blocks this season.  

The Wildcats are loaded with talent, across the board.  Look for them to pressure the ball early, and hard.  Coach Matthew Mitchell indicated in their loss to Louisville two years ago, at The YUM Center, the crowd really rattled his team.  Look for them to try to minimize that effect this year, by striking early and often.  Coach Mitchell likes a heavy guard line up and builds his system around pressuring the ball and creating turnovers.   He keeps fresh legs on the court substituting at times.Like last year... an entire line up at a time. 

A likely starting line up for the Wildcats will include the aforementioned Mathies at guard, sophomore guard Bria Goss, junior guard Maegan Conwright, and junior forward/centers Walker and Stallworth, mentioned above.  Walker ( UCONN) nor Stallworth (California) saw minutes against Louisville last year due to transfer rules.
Stallworth will be a force in the paint... leading the team with blocks this year, but adds an extra challenge for defenders because she can knock down the 3.  This season will be Walker’s first full season playing for the Wildcats, allowed to play late December and all of conference and post season play last season.   

As mentioned before, Coach Mitchell keeps fresh legs in the game.  Expect a lot of bench play in this game.  The lone freshman in the class, Janee Thompson is seeing lots of minutes as is Jennifer O’Neill, Azia Bishop and Kastine Evans.   Like Coach Walz, the Kentucky bench is seeing a lot of time on the court and the bench riders likely could be a starter on any given day. 

I expect this to be a very physical game, the potential for a lot of fouls, and a fun exciting game to watch.  Kentucky has ventured away from their friendly confines only once thus far, travelling to Waco, Texas to take on Baylor.   Road tested this season they are not, and I believe this will be a huge advantage for the Cardinals today.  

Keys to a Cardinal victory:
Contain A’dia Mathies- While there are many weapons on this team, and any of them can hurt you on a given day, make no doubt, this is Mathies’s team.  The Cardinals must contain her. 

Valued possessions- I am sure this has been a talking point all week with Coach Walz and this team.  The Cardinals must take care of the ball.  Kentucky will cause turnovers.  Expect it, but limit it.  Additionally, the Cardinals cannot take mental breaks and contribute to this number by contributing with unforced turnovers.   Take care of the ball!

Free throws- With a physical team, the potential exists to shoot from the line.  Cardinals must do better in this stat.  3 missed free throws could be the difference in this game, let alone 10.   The Cardinals must make fouling a liability and must control this stat. 

40 minutes of basketball- At times this season the Cards have looked brilliant, playing great basketball on both ends of the court.  3 minutes later they have gone foggy and get stuck there for minutes or sometimes for an entire half.  Great teams play the entire 40 minutes, whether you are ahead, or behind.  This team must play the entire 40 minutes of good basketball.  I do not even think it has to be great basketball for 40 minutes, but good solid ball.  40 minutes. 

Full squad affair- Like Kentucky, our Cardinals have a deep and talented bench.  Gone are the days of a dominant, one player team.   Louisville has depth, and will need that depth, as a whole, to have a good game.  While is great to be in the position of a different player every game stepping up, to carry the load, this game is different.  All the girls need to have a good game.  A good game, not great, from every player on the team that sees minutes will equal a win.   

In many ways, Louisville and Kentucky match up in a lot of ways.  Both like to pressure the ball and have deep and capable benches.  This has the potential to be an exciting, back and forth match.  If both teams play to their abilities, it should be a close match, to the end.   This is a winnable game for our Cards.  I look for an extension of the undefeated season for our Cards as well as the home team winning streak, but more importantly, bragging rights for the next year on the hardwood.   

If you were on the fence about attending this game today, I cannot impress upon you enough the need to have butts in the seats.  DVR the game to watch at a later date, but show up, stand up, and stand out for this team.  As the 6th man on the court we are invaluable to our teams success.  I have been excited to be a part of game changing crowds at many events and expect nothing less from the Cardinal Faithful today. 

One added bonus to get there early is the game day arrival of Nell Fortner and her Nell On Wheels event.  Starting at 5:00 p.m. in the lobby of the YUM Center look for former Auburn Coach Fortner for her game day interviews and activities prior to tip. 

This is a big one folks.  No doubt about it.  Likely the biggest game we will see at home this season, less the first rounds of the tournament.  There is a lot to celebrate right now with Cardinal Athletics.  Get out, show your support and let’s help our team defend home court!  I’ll see you there.  

If you cannot go, the game is on ESPNU.

Postscript 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Just spent about 30 minutes on the phone with former CARDINAL COUPLE columnist David Watson talking about today's game. The irrepressable Mr Watson also sent me this e-mail about the game.

" I see five key points today. First is Mo often and early. Second is controlling turnovers. Shoni and the Cards guards will be pressured the entire game. How well they respond to that is the deciding between a win and a loss. Next  is free throw conversion. The winner of the free throw attempts will win this one, in my opinion. Also, Louisville needs a huge game out of Sara Hammond. Scoring and on the boards. Finally, bench play is going to be crucial. This game will be played at a helter-skelter pace. If the Cards can get valuable minutes out of Jude, Shawnta and Nita, then they should be able to take the victory.

My prediction? It's going to be a thug-fest with both teams shooting 20+ free throws. Some late game heroics by Shoni and Mo pull the Cards from behind to win. 71-69. Cards."

(Editor comments: We cannot agree more with Jenny than stressing that CARDINAL fans need to be in the KFC YUM! Center early and make a lot of noise. Go talk to Nell Fortner or something if you aren't ready to sit. In the conversations we've had with the current Lady thread rings true. The players respond and get fired up when they know that the arena is rocking early for them. Cardinal fans, you have your mission! Get there early, make it loud and wear your RED. It would please us in great deal to write about a UofL win in the MONDAY edition of Cardinal Couple. Help us make it happen!)

11 a.m. Sunday

10 Things You Probably Didn't Know about the UofL vs. UK WBB series

1) Since 1975, UK has won 30 times. Louisville 17. Great. UK fans will start calling the UofL Womens' team "little sister".
2) In the 21st. century, Louisville has won eight times, Kentucky five.
3) The most lopsided game was one of the first ones. In 1975, UK beat Louisville 75-37.
4) Dana Nichols attempted 17 free throws against UK in 1987...most by any player in the series.
5) Jill Morton made 12 free throws against UK in 2000...most by any player in the series.
6) Troya Landrum grabbed 21 rebounds against UK in 1989...secondmost in Cardinal womens' basketball history.
7) Jackie Spencer blocked six UK shots in 1985. Yuliya Tokova blocked five UK shots in 2006.
8) The Cards grabbed only 25 rebounds last year against UK. It was their season low.
9) The largest crowd to ever see the WBB team play a home game came against UK on Dec. 5th, 2010 when 22,152 saw Louisville win 78-52.
10) Both squads had 26 turnovers last year in Memorial Coliseum.

12:15 p.m. Sunday

Syd the Kid
Shayna Harmon #22
It's raining in Louisville. I hope it stops before game time. Can't have any weather-related factors keeping attendance down. Jenny texted me a few moments back and to tell me about a tweet she saw that 2016 prospect Shayna Harmon will be in town to watch the game, this prospect is going to be a big-time guard before she graduates. We also heard from Sydney Brackemyer's mom and Syd the Kid will also be in attendance. Cards fans, we really want Syd in this house...if you see either at the game today...please welcome them and tell them that we want them. Both are from the Buckeye state Ohio. Do you know how many current players on the UofL squad are from Ohio? Pop quiz time:

A) Sherrone Vails and Megan Deines
B) Cortnee Walton and Shelby Harper
C) Shawnta Dyer and Asia Taylor
D) Lindsey Wilson and Rose Hulman

(The answer is C.)



  1. Kentucky's guards do not handle pressure well.

  2. This is going to be an ugly game. Both squads will probably be tagged for 20+ fouls each.

    The game was horribly officiated last year. Shoni picked up 3 fouls by the first tv timeout.

  3. Prediction: Louisville 66 - Kentucky 64.

    --Joe Hill--

  4. Not looking for a blowout for either team. Should be a lot closer than the last few, unless Shoni goes for 6 threes again and Megan goes for 5 (ala Becky).
    I'll be there early!

    1. Here's a few talking points as we prepare for the game. Both teams are allowing the same amount of opponent points per game 50.3. Jeff Walz is 3-2 against Kentucky. There have been two overtime games...Louisville won in 1995 77-76 and UK won in 2003 84-80.


  5. Good luck Cardinals today against UK!

    Tennessee Sue

    1. Cordial Tennessee fans are always welcome! Thanks Sue. Good luck against UNC today, too.

    2. Wow. A 38 point win for Vols. Sylvia Hatchell is probably flying around the locker room on her broom casting spells on the UNC players.

  6. Great to see David Watson again on the site! He was my favorite writer. Yo, David. What you been up to lately?

    Curtis Franklin

  7. Thanks Curtis. I told Paul a few months ago I was taking a hiatus from writing to concentrate more on my kids' activities. My son Jeff is becoming a pretty good golfer for a 13 year old and we've been travelling around to play in a few tournaments. Also, try to get up and see my oldest daughter Abby up at Bucknell each month. She's a freshman forward on the field hockey team there and had a good first year -- played in 11 of their 17 games and scored a goal. Plus, with my mother's dementia has gotten significantly worse and spending a lot of time with her in the nursing home.


    1. Sorry to here about your mother, David. It's tough, I know. My aunt is just starting to show signs of dementia and she pretty much raised me, so it's tough.

      Great to hear about Abby! Enjoyed talking with you and her at the Syracuse game last year.

      Curtis Franklin

  8. Maci Morris, a 2015 guard out of Bell County, I believe will also be in attendance. Great game for recruits in the region to be at. Would love to Erica Moore (2014, IN) here, but no word on whether she will be here.

  9. Horrible officiating by Walz the last 6 minutes. Cost us. He was coaching scared.

  10. Fts,killed us if we had one guard that will be there next yr we win easily well iam proud of my team healthy we will be better.


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