Friday, March 24, 2017
Louisville women's basketball -- Cards vs. Baylor tonight
WBCA All-Region Honorees Durr, Hines-Allen lead Cards into Sweet Sixteen play vs. Bears
Asia Durr and Myisha Hines-Allen are two of the 52 all-region selections for the WBCA All-America Team. They'll be in consideration for the 10-member Division I Coaches' All-America Team, that will be announced during the NCAA Women's Final Four in Dallas. A wonderful honor for these two. Our hopes are that they make that final ten list and are playing in Dallas when the announcement comes.
Kalani Brown and Nina Davis were also selected for the honor. The play for the Baylor Bears...who will play#13 Louisville tonight in the NCAA Regionals. The game will be on ESPN2 around 9:30 p.m. or so tonight. It'll follow the Washington vs. Mississippi St. contest in the Chesapeake Energy Center arena in Oklahoma City, OK.
The Cards go into the contest a decided underdog against Baylor....according to the so-called "experts, talking heads and analyst gurus". Baylor was the #1 seed in the Oklahoma City region. The Cards were the #4 seed. So, far...the rankings for this region have held to form...with Mississippi St #2 seeded and Washington at #3. Looking quickly at the other three regions...Bridgeport has the #1 seed UConn facing #4 seed UCLA and #3 seed Maryland against upstart #10 Oregon. In Lexington, the #1 seed Notre Dame gets #5 Ohio State and #2 Stanford battles #3 Texas. Finally, in Stockton...#1 South Carolina has surprising #12 Quinnipiac on their slate and #2 Oregon State will tussle with #3 Florida State.
What must the Cards do to beat Baylor?
(Say it in unison with me.....score more points)
We'll look at (5) key factors in the contest that could determine whether Louisville will play on Sunday or not:
1) "Durr"ection. Louisville has to have a big night out of the Douglasville, GA sophomore. Lately, that hasn't been a problem...she's averaging 19.2 points per game and has 114 threes on the season. Against a Baylor defense that will probably start guards Alexis Prince and Kristy Wallace...with Wallace being the most likely to draw the assignment on her...she'll need to move efficiently without the ball to get open looks and hope that Mariya Moore, Briahanna Jackson or whoever is running the assists counter is open for business and distributing.
2) Close the bakery! Simply put, Louisville can not afford to have a turnover number in double-digits. When it comes to creating turnovers, the Bears run a part-time operation. They forced California into 24. Texas Southern coughed up 21. In the Big 12 Tournament, though, West Virginia committed only seven and Kansas St. was guilty of eight. Having Jackson back and available at point should help the Cards limit the miscues. Interestingly, Moore and Hines-Allen have committed the most turnovers on the Cardinal roster this season. It's time for those two to hang up their baking smocks and shut down the oven.
3) Let "Threedom" reign. It was the turning point and factor in putting away a pesky Tennessee squad. Moore needs another 5-5 performance or better. Durr needs to be on the mark with her trifecta offerings. Anything that the Cards can get from Kylee Shook, Syd Zambrotta or even Jackson would be a benefit. The Bears allowed 5.5 made threes during the season and a .272 average on attempts. Louisville will need to blow those stats out of the Chesapeake bay tonight and have the ref crew raising both hands over their heads similar to when the Cards last played Baylor.
4) Defense, defense! It is the factor that Coach Walz stresses with great importance this time of year. Louisville has allowed 60 points per contest this season. Their opponents have averaged 36% shooting success. Defense starts with communication. Talking. Shouting out the switch, covering the outside shooter, making inside play difficult and preventing the dribble-drive and run-outs. Against Baylor, the inside game that the Bears use quite successfully has to be shut down. In the Cards seven losses this season, they allowed the victors an average of 76 points a game. South Carolina and Notre Dame (twice) scored over 80. We'll call the line of success at 70. If the Cards hold the Bears to that and score more than that, they'll win.
5) Free throws. Charity tosses are the 500 lb. Bears in the corner that everyone is certainly tired of talking about but can't be ignored. The Cards are at a 68% success rate on the season. They allow 70%. Louisville averages going to the line 11 times a contest. If that trend holds, we'll need to see the Cards sink at least eight of them. On the season, opponents have gone to the line 35 more times than the Cards and made 34 more. Durr, Hines-Allen, Moore, Taylor Johnson and Zambrotta are all above 72%. BJ and Walton are at 50%. Sam Fuehring at 65%. If it comes down to late fouling by the Bears, the Cards need to make sure they are getting the ball in the hands of the right player(s) and having "makers, not shooters" on the floor.
I expect a close game tonight. I think the Cards will be able to slow the Baylor offensive juggernaut down and keep this one in the seventies. I don't think the Bears will have much success trying to stop Hines-Allen inside or Durr from outside...but Louisville will need to curtail what Brown, David and even Cox and Cave can do inside.
Louisville will need production from "the Big Three" and freshmen Shook and Jazmine Jones would really help the win chances if they "are on". Hopefully BJ is back to her old "flying around the court and making incredible plays" self and if Louisville can get contributions from Fuehring, Taylor Johnson and a few Syd bombs tossed in for good measure...they should be able to pull off the win.
Walz and the staff have a plan. They are masterminds at getting a scenario together that will bring success. What they need is for the players to follow it and execute it properly.
Will we see a repeat of the biggest upset in the history of women's college basketball? Will Louisville continue the quest to go dancing in Dallas? We'll know in about 14 hours (from the time of this article submission). Get in a nap if you need to, put on the coffee and hunker down by the TV or radio tonight and get ready for the game.
If you're in Okla City and reading this, get loud, get crazy and pull the Cardinals through!
Success is failure turned inside out.
The silver tint of the clouds in doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.
It's when things seem worse that you must not quit.
THEY SAID IT:
Walz, Myisha and Asia talk about the game, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant at the link below