Thursday, January 4, 2018
Louisville women's basketball -- Cards face #17 Duke tonight -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
CAN THE CARDS GET TO 17-0?
The 11-3 and #17 ranked Duke Blue Devils women's basketball team comes to the KFC YUM! Center tonight intent on one thing. Ending Louisville's 16-game win streak and starting a win streak of their own. Jeff Walz knows a good match-up when he sees one. At the Wednesday presser in the Cards practice facility, the Louisville head coach was up-front and frank about it:
"We're just really excited about the opportunity Thursday night. They're a very good basketball team and it should be a great match-up. They score the ball extremely well, defensively they're one of the top teams in the country. They long, athletic, they're going to play zone. You have to be smart with the basketball. You can't telegraph passes. You've got to be detail-oriented."
Don't expect a 26-1 Louisville blowout start to this one. Not with the leading scorer in the ACC (Lexie Brown) visiting or three of the top 15 in field-goal shooting percentages (Brown, Leaonna Odom and Erin Mathias) in the house wearing the Blue and White. No 0-24 from the floor for Coach Joanne P. McCauley's Devils.
The recent two lead-slippages at the end of games in the Cards last two road affairs were because of good teams. Walz had no delusions of grandeur of his 26-1 lead at NC State turning into 52-2. Good teams make runs and Walz would like to see more consistency for a 40-minute stretch than he witnessed in Atlanta and Raleigh.
Consistency may be difficult. Brown has 57 steals on the season, fifth best in the nation. She's also had 8 games with 20 or more points, two ahead of Asia Durr's 20-point performances. Duke holds opponents to 52.5 ppg and 33% shooting. They also stop the three quite well allowing a minuscule 26% success rate on opponent's trifecta attempts. Duke has the highest three-point FG percentage in the ACC with 40% accuracy rate. Add Rebecca Greenwell back into the mix, who will be playing her second straight game after sitting four in a row with injuries, and they have nine girls 6'1" or taller available for action.
Blue Devils? How about Duke Amazons...
The Cards are 114-14 in the KFC YUM! Center lifetime. They've beaten the Blue Devils on Denny Crum Court once but trail in the series history 3-2. Last year in Durham, Louisville saw a 44-41 lead after three quarters turn into a 58-55 loss, despite 31 combined points from Durr and Hines-Allen.
If all this scares you, maybe I've been a bit too glowing about the Blue Devils accomplishments. They're not undefeated and Miami, South Carolina and Villanova have shown that the Blue Devils are susceptible to less than winning performances.
One thing that hasn't happened to the Cards this year is getting rattled.
Trailing on the road at Ohio State, in a dogfight at South Dakota St., falling behind early at Georgia Tech and seeing a 25 point lead vanquish to four against North Carolina St...the Cards have bent but haven't been broken.
The fight and desire in Myisha Hines-Allen and Sam Fuehring makes them one of the strongest front lines I can remember the Cards having since the days of Shawnta Dyer, Mo Reid and Asia Taylor. Myisha's way of making the big play at the right time and the All-American caliber explosiveness and accuracy of "Nite-Nite" Asia Durr make the Cards formidable and able to take ANY team in NCAA women's college basketball on any night. Arica Carter's stability and big-play capability at the point is ever-present and should it falter slightly you can guarantee that Dana Evans will dash in, go at one speed as long as she can and wear out any combination of guards trying to keep up with her.
If Jazmine Jones can put together a solid and productive court time performance...let the game come to her... if Syd Zambrotta regains her three-ball skills back on a friendly court and Kylee Shook and Bionca Dunham can come in and keep the offense productive plus negate some of the Blue Devils height advantage, then I like Louisville's chances tonight.
I don't see a easy win for the Cards but I'd sure love to be pleasantly surprised by one. I do hope to see a decent turnout in the lower bowl tonight and maybe even some upper deck patrons. This UofL women's basketball team is seriously MUCH MORE deserving of way more than the 6126 per game that have wandered into the KFC YUM! CENTER.
I also got the chance to talk a bit with Sara White today at the presser. She'll be doing the color analyst work for the ACC Network Extra broadcast along with everyone's favorite Cortnee Walton on the sidelines and newcomer, down from Indy, Matt Schumacker handling play-by-play. Our old buddy Don Russell had hoped to be back in time from his surgery to call this one (and he'll be missed) but we'll see him back at half-court soon.
If you're a fan of the radio descriptions and accounts of games like me, there's no finer duo to listen to calling college women's basketball than Nick Curran and Adrienne Johnson. They'll perform their magic on 790 AM WKRD and you can hear them also on the IHeart radio app.
This is one of those games where, in the past, there's been a certain amount of electricity in the air, a heightened sense of anticipation and hopes when I walk into the East Side of the downtown arena. It is good to be back home, not only for me, but for the WBB Cards.
Chuck Berry sang about "Sweet Little Sixteen" and that win was accomplished. If you've never heard it, or the other two references that follow...I've linked them up below.
Sweet Little Sixteen
The opening line to the Beatles' song "I Saw Her Standing There" is "Well, she was just seventeen..." so let's get that one in the books as well.
I Saw Her Standing There
And, who could forget the classic learning lesson ballad from The Sound of Music when Rolf sang to Liesl about "When your sixteen, going on seventeen.."
When You're Sixteen Going On Seventeen.
Don't worry, I've also got the next two potential wins lined up musically, too...but I'm not going to spring those on you just yet. No bad ju-ju, one game at a time, right?
Audio from yesterday:
JEFF WALZ PREVIEWS DUKE GAME REVIEWS SEASON
ASIA DURR TALKS ABOUT DUKE AND THE SEASON
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN DISCUSSES DUKE AND REVIEWS SEASON