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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Cardinal Couple -- The Forgotten Four: How will they return?


-What can UofL WBB expect out of Dyer, Taylor, Gibbs and Niamke?

-WBB will play WKU in Bowling Green

They were four of fourteen on the squad last year but didn't dress for the BIG EAST or NCAA Tournament runs. They were all starters at one point in their collegiate careers but now find themselves finding five starters in front of them from the national NCAA runner-up team.

I'm speaking, of course...of Asia Taylor, Tia Gibbs, Shawnta Dyer and Monny Niamke. What will their impact be on a squad that is deep in talent at each position?

Let's look at their bios so far and what they might bring

-Tia Gibbs

The former Louisville Butler, 2008 Miss Kentucky Basketball guard has been on campus almost as long as Jeff Walz. After spending a freshman year at Vanderbilt, Gibbs transferred and sat out a season before turning in a spectacular 2010-11 campaign. Then, one game into the 2011-12 year, she injured a shoulder that sidelined her. Along with a hip injury, Gibbs comeback has been highly anticipated for two years now by Lady Cards fans. She led Louisville in steals in 2010-11. Scored in double figures in 16 games. Shot 81.1% from the free throw line.

Will she return to such numbers in the 2013-14 season? Probably not...but Coach Walz would probably gladly settle for half as much and a solid 10 minutes a game if she's still got it in her. Energy. Leadership. Defense. Those will be the three keys for Gibbs. Torn shoulder labrum, torn hip labrum...but un-torn and un-waivering desire to compete.

- Asia Taylor

Watching game film on her from her 2008-2009 senior season in high school had me convinced she just might be the next Angel McCoughtry. A devastating leg injury ended her senior season, though...and she played basically on one good leg her first year as a Cardinal. She started roughly half of the games in her first three years here before sitting out the 2012-13 schedule with (you guessed it) a hip injury.

At her best, Taylor is a ferocious defender and scoring threat inside who goes to the boards strong and probably had the best vertical of anyone on the team when she was healthy in 2011-2012.  If she can give Louisville strong, solid support on the front line as a dependable back-up at the "4" or "5" and consistantly hit a mid-range jumper...then her 10-12 minutes a game will be productive for Walz.

And, she's Sonja's favorite player on the team. Important stuff...

- Shawnta Dyer

Another hard-luck victim with two injuries since she's been here...ACL most recently and a fractured heel before she ever played a game as a Cardinal. The Shawnta we saw in the 2012-13 season before the knee injury was a hard-working, aggressive paint player on both ends of the court who scored well inside and abused defenders who decided not to "front" her.

That needs to come back if Dyer is to have any major impact on the 2013-14 successes for the Lady Cards. When she's "on"...she's hard to keep off the glass and away from the hoop. Reports are she's ready to go and near 100%.

- Monny Niamke

She was the sure-fire, can't miss guard headed from France to Louisville that all of a sudden ended up at Lindsey Wilson. The year of hoops there, though, gave her a wealth of experience at point guard. She averaged 12.5 ppg and led the team in assists during that 2011-12 season before finally ending up at Louisville and redshirting last season.

How will her skills translate to Division I? She is a better than average defender and quick...two skills desired at point guard. She's proven she can be a scorer...on a roster that is knee-deep in guards, though (no pun intended) one has to wonder just how many minutes she'll get as a back up or if there is the remotest of a chance she'd get a starting nod? Point guards need to be excellent ball-handlers and accurate distributors of the orb. We'll see how "Money's" skills are after a year on the shelf.  

We look forward to seeing all four mentioned above having healthy, productive and fun seasons for Coach Walz. On a roster that has so much talent and five returning starters...the competition for playing time is going to be quite a battle and fun to watch...


Slowly, but surely...we're getting news about the non-conference schedule for the Louisville womens' basketball team.

Jeff Walz will take the platoon of Cardinals down I-65 for an early season matchup with Western Kentucky on Wednesday, November 27th. for a game in E.A. Diddle Arena. The 7 p.m. CST contest falls the day before Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah).

Sounds like a good opportunity for UofL Fastbreak Club or Marketing to get together a bus trip, right? Talk to us, A.J.

The Hilltoppers are coached by former UofL assistant Michelle Clark Heard and two former Lady Cards are on staff with her...assistant coach Candyce Bingham and staffer Laura Terry.

Wow...the Festival of Lights, cranberry sauce, Big Red and Cardinal hoops all in a 24 hour period. Let's hope the Cards don't end up being the "turkey"...



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