CARDS HOME FOR A FEW DAYS WITH THESE THINGS TO CONSIDER
By now, we're assuming that the University of Louisville women's basketball team has arrived home and are among family and friends...celebrating the Christmas holiday....barring any Trains, Planes and Automobile incidents. Lest you think the several days away from campus will be filled with only mass-eating, TV binge-watching and trips to the mall...be aware that each player was sent home with strength and conditioning exercises and training tips to keep themselves in shape while away from the whistles and clipboards of the UofL coaching staff.
It won't be a festive suit-wearing and egg-nog swilling marathon for the coaches, though...while the players are away. There are potential recruits to be called. Strategies and philosophies (yes, even theorems) to be administered to be planned by the Walz bunch while they're off until after Christmas Day. The Cards jump into the ACC pool on Dec. 29th. against a dangerous, if a bit under-performing, Syracuse squad and trips to Duke and Virginia loom ahead within that same week span of time.
So what are some of the things the Cards need to continue to excel at and work on as conference play awaits? Let's look at five tenets of what we refer to as Louisville women's basketball in terms of what the Cards need to do to remain in their winning ways scenario and dispose of the worthy foes that lie ahead. There are some huge tasks ahead and preparation is such an important part of the battle...
- Defensive intensity. It was there in mass quantities against Vandy...and it's been there pretty much since the loss to Maryland three weeks ago. A lot of that comes from the combined efforts of the players on the floor to keep competition's shooting percentages low. Louisville dominated Vandy down low. Will they be able to do the same against the guard-strong Syracuse and Duke squads who also have strength in the paint?
- Recognizing who's hot. Louisville got a huge game out of Myisha Hines-Allen against Vandy...a lot of that attributable to her teammates recognizing the "hot hand" and getting the ball to her. Next time it might be Mariya Moore or maybe Asia Durr. That knowledge and recognition comes from player awareness and coaching. The old football term "feed the studs" applies here...can the Cards continue to recognize and react?
- Improving on the weaknesses. Despite the 12-2 record, there are things the Cards need to practice and work on. We'd like to see Moore and Jackson's shooting skills return and Cortnee cash in on the 10-12 foot jumper when she's unguarded and the team's overall free throw performance improve. Texas A&M defeated Syracuse in part by going 34 for 40 from the free throw line. A excellent 85%. We're not saying the Cards will have that many opportunities at the charity stripe against the Orange (or anyone)...but why not take advantage of the "unguarded ones?"
- Getting the best out of what you have. It looks like, as least for now, that Hines-Allen, Moore, Walton, Jackson and Durr are going to see the majority of the minutes for Louisville. That's fine, we have no issue with that at all...but when Taylor Johnson, Kylee Shook, Jazmine Jones or (name your player) are out there...Louisville needs a clear focus and execution out of them. If you're sent into a game with a specific instruction or mission...execute it. If you want that playing time, go out and earn it...regardless if you're a starter or not.
- Finish what you've started. What is one of the things that makes UConn so successful? They have that ability, that desire..to take a ten point lead and stretch it to fifteen, then twenty...twenty five before the opponent knows what hit them. Seal the deal, complete the meal and don't let the foe steal their way back into the game. I'm not sure that this Louisville team has the "killer instinct" ability that they need yet...I'm sure the motivation is there...but it needs to be executed. Once you've hit the accelerator...there's no need to keep tapping the brake. Keep driving.
The ACC is not going to be an easy ride for Louisville (or anyone in the conference) because of the vast talent and skill sets that exist on all 15 squads. Being prepared to perform and taking the teaching tips that are provided to you by the coaches can often turn the tide in your direction. Know you foes and also know you.
The great WWII General George S. Patton, Jr. defeated Nazi forces under the command of Erwin Rommel in a key battle held in the Tunisian area known as El Guettar. It was planning and strategy, combined wih performance, that won this key north African skirmish for the Allied forces. As the battle swung in the Allied Forces favor...Patton exclaimed..."Rommel, you magnificent bastard...I read your book!" He had done the work, knew the foe and his capabilities and succeeded.
Patton's preparation and getting the maximum utilization of his resources...including Patton reading a book written by Rommel a few years back about tank strategies...won the day that day for his side. The Cardinals must use all the resources, skills and then put them into action when the time comes to "win the day" in the upcoming future. Know the book on your foe. Then, perform the task.
We've already had Walz's theories on participation and free throw shooting fully lined out for us this year. Will he and the squad have their "El Guettar" moment ahead? We'll find out very soon. Take a few days to take it all in, Cards...because you'll be drinking from a fire-hose before you know it and the season gets very real in a week.
two xmas shopping days left!