Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Welcome to Cardinal Arena -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
CIERA JOHNSON PROVIDES STRENGTH IN THE MIDDLE
( This is the third segment in a series of weekly articles about the new additions to the UofL Women's Basketball squad for 2016-17. Doing these in somewhat of an alphabetical order, we look at Ciera Johnson today...)
One of the laments from the fan base about Louisville Women's Basketball a few years ago is that the Cards needed height. To which, the reply has been known to be centered around..."do you want 6'5"-6'6" girls that aren't all that talented, or 6'2"-6'3" girls that are talented and can jump out of the gym and run the court?"
In Ciera Johnson, it looks like the Cards may have the best of both worlds. The 6'5"(some say 6'4") post out of Duncanville, TX. was consistently ranked as one of the top two centers in the class of 2016 and displayed the physical talents on both ends of the court coaches dream of. Strong, rebounds, scores well in traffic, runs the court, knows the game and has court sense. Can play in a team concept and has size. An elite performer in the post.
And, all these things bring to the Cards what they could use in the paint. Louisville has rebounding (Cortnee Walton). They have scoring inside (Myisha Hines-Allen). They have plenty of girls that can run the court. To get a combination package with all three, though...is hitting the trifecta.
She just might be the first dominating center in Jeff Walz's reign at Louisville. Oh,sure...the Cards have had good centers in the past. Keisha Hines fulfilled her role quite well for the Cards. Chauntise Wright did some things very well (scoring inside) and some...not so well (running the court). Gwen Rucker held her own until Volleyball beckoned. Sara Hammond was a center with wing aspirations but gave the Cards her best in the paint. There are others you could probably toss in there...
Johnson has the chance to be a dominator, though. A Griner. A Parker. Think Lisa Leslie or Lauren Jackson. Tina Charles.
She'll have the set-up people around her to help her get there. To have the chance to play two years with the M&M girls (Myisha and Mariya) is big. Three years with Asia Durr and Sam Fuehring. Starting her career with Kylee Shook, Jazmine Jones and the other talented frosh on campus with her.
Basketball games are won by teams. Players fulfilling their roles. You have the scorers, the defense specialists, the assist-makers and the spark plugs. You have to have the force in the paint, though, to be an elite team. UConn has had it year after year. Baylor comes up with bigs. Notre Dame seems to come up with a power in the paint year after year. Is it Louisville's turn?
There is, of course, always a freshman learning curve. There will be times that the tutelage Ciera gets from Cortnee and the staff may not fully exemplify itself on the court. It happens, not even Michael Jordan or Maya Moore were or are spot-on-perfect every night.
If Ciera Johnson is ready to put in the hard work ALL of the time, listen, perform and learn from the instruction she receives and is willing to dedicate herself to the team concept...she has the potential to be one of the best posts in Louisville WBB history. Imagine her and Myisha inside...with three capable teammates on the perimeter....and capable backups to spell them!
It's good to be a Louisville fan these days...
FUN FODDER ON CIERA
1) She'll wear #40 as a Cardinal. Only four Cards have donned that number in the history of UofL women's basketball and no one since 1998.
2) Her home-town...DUNCANVILLE, TX. is also the hometown of women's basketball great TAMIKA CATCHINGS...who graduated from there in 1997.
3) Duncanville is known as the "City of Champions" due to their numerous high school championship titles....including nine for Girls high school basketball... Ciera was on the All-Tournament team of the 2015-16 Duncanville WBB team that won the 6A title. It's only fitting she's now in the town of "The Greatest"...Muhammad Ali
4) She is the only 2016-17 Cardinal from the state of Texas. The 2015-16 squad has a Texan as well...Erin DeGrate. Hmm...tall gals and Texas???
5) Maybe one of the most interesting descriptions of Ciera (from ESPNW) is that she's a triple-threat...she plays, she coaches and she officiates. We'll be happy if she just sticks with the first....