Cards Post Complete Performance in Win Over Irish
Plenty has been said about the thrilling victory the Louisville women's basketball team put up over perennial powerhouse Notre Dame on Thursday. Rightfully so. Louisville had not beaten Notre Dame before, and this was a top three matchup in the KFC Yum! Center. Since I'll be out of today's radio show with a cold that would not lend itself to a strong radio broadcast, I decided to put my thoughts up here, potentially to spark a bit more conversation about the game.
First and foremost, allow me to apologize to the Cards. I've been a bit down, both in my columns and on the radio show. I believed that they were a special team, don't get me wrong, but they hadn't been playing to the best of their ability. The constant late comebacks by opponents, while still resulting in Louisville wins, were not a mark of sustainable success. When Louisville jumped out to a large first quarter lead, my thoughts immediately went to the fact that they'd have to hold off Notre Dame, a team with significantly more talent and better coaching than other teams they'd buried early.
Fortunately, Louisville came right out in the second quarter and proved me wrong. Not only did the Cards not let Notre Dame begin creeping back into the game, but they continued to dominate the Irish, doubling up the score before the half. Then they came out in the third quarter, and they dominated again. Louisville won the first three quarters of the game by at least 11 points EACH. The only reason the fourth quarter didn't look the same is because Jeff Walz wanted the back half of the bench to get significant minutes against a quality opponent.
By the way, make no mistake about it. Notre Dame was still a quality opponent. Yes, they are a different team than many expected them to be in the preseason. Three players out on ACL tears this season alone, with one holdover from last year, is rough. But Notre Dame has persevered. They've still been winning games. That is, until they ran into the Cards. I'm sure the game Thursday night would have been different had Notre Dame had their complete roster. However, I think the Cards showed that they are a force to be reckoned with against any other team.
Let's take a look at the CASE Report to see how the Cards stood out statistically in a game that they dominated on the scoreboard.
C-Care: Louisville turned the ball over 14 times. Prior to Thursday's game, Notre Dame was forcing turnovers at a pace of only 15.5 per game, only good enough for a 200+ ranking in the country. That means Louisville turned the ball over 90% of Notre Dame's average. That's not the ranking we're looking for. To their benefit, as they opened up the score in the first half, Louisville turned the ball over only 4 times. Had that pace held, Louisville would have met the criteria. Based on their performance in the third quarter, I think they could have done it with the starters all playing their top game. Louisville also turned the ball over fewer times than Notre Dame. I'll stay strict, though. Louisville earns a lowercase 'c'.
A-Assists: Louisville tallied 25 assists on Thursday night. Because they were balling, and still did not get the 66% mark in the assist ratio category, it seems that I made that criterion too harsh last week. I'll amend it again, for good this time, to 60%. Louisville's 25 assists on 41 made shots was good for 61%. Had they kept their turnovers down, the could have met the 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio criteria. Thus, I think it's in a good spot. With the higher turnovers, though, they posted only a 1.79. Lowercase 'a'.
S-Steals: Louisville's pressure contributed greatly to the victory. The 10 steals is better than the desired 7.5 mark, and it doesn't even take into account the impact that drawn charges and push off fouls have. The Cards also managed more steals than the Irish, narrowly edging out ND's total of 8. Good for a rating of capital 'S'.
E-Efficiency: Louisville shot 68% from the floor Thursday. Holy moly. They were better than 55% from the floor in both halves, and outscored the total efficiency benchmark by 23 percentage points. If I were generous, I would use such a fantastic number to award a capital letter. However, Louisville shot only 7-11 from the free throw line, 63.6%. It's a low sample, sure. It's even one that could be thrown out due to the efficiency from the floor. However, all four missed free throws came from Jazmine Jones and Dana Evans. These two players are both likely to be on the floor in late game foul situations. Opposing teams will force the ball to a player they don't trust to make free throws. If you're expected to be on the floor in those situations, you need to be money from the free throw line in all situations. No exceptions from me. Lowercase 'e'.
Despite my hardnosed approach, Louisville still managed to post a c-a-S-e. A lower turnover number would have granted them two more capitals and two more made free throws would have rounded out the word. This was pretty clearly a fantastic performance for Louisville, one that I hope to see from them more often.
I'm hoping that Louisville's complete performance on Thursday can be a turning point for the Cards. No, every opponent is not going to get you up mentally the way that Notre Dame did. However, the post first quarter meltdowns are mostly mental. If the Cards can see how they performed all game against the Irish, and recognize that such a performance can be replicated, they'll be nearly unstoppable. Though they might not be able shoot 72% every half (goodness), the persistence and commitment to execution makes the difference. Louisville takes on UCONN just under a month from now. They'll need to maintain focus against all other comers during this month, but the battle against the Huskies has the potential to be a dream game. 1 vs 2. All the Cards have to do is keep playing their game and keep winning. One game at a time. Next up to get crossed off the list is Pittsburgh. Go Cards.
Another News Around the University
I wanted to get my thoughts about Thursday's thriller out there, but there are other things that deserve mention on these pages as well. It's time for the lightning round.
Todd Chamberlain, a Louisville native and graduate of Trinity High School, will be joining Dani Busboom Kelly and the Louisville volleyball staff. Chamberlain was at Kansas for eight years doing work with outside hitters as well as handling video coordination and recruiting duties. The staff is excited to welcome him and his talents back to the Ville.
Another Kentucky native will be coming to Louisville in an assistant coaching role, this time for women's golf. Lydia Gumm was a two-time All-ACC performer during her time at Florida State. Gumm's playing career with the Noles just ended, with her posting the fifth lowest career stroke average in school history. She'll be an important piece in helping the Louisville women's golf team to the next level.
Swimmers from both teams at UofL are having a strong showing at the TYR Pro Series in Austin, Texas. Today is the third day of four in the competition, and Louisville swimmers have already claimed five top five finishes and 11 finishes in the top 7. They'll look to continue that success and have a strong upcoming season.
Finally, the track and field squads have opened competition at the UK Invitational. Yesterday, the squads competed in the weight throw. On the women's side, freshman Makenli Forrest tallied a sixth place finish with teammate Carsen Cassell coming in eighth. Competition continues through today.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
Despite the weather and road conditions, the plan is still to host the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour, CC's weekly radio show on WCHQ FM. Paulie will lead the gang in the new studio on Mellwood from 11AM-12PM. Tune in to hear live commentary on Thursday night's game, as well as where the Cards go from here. The show can be heard on your FM radio dial at 100.9 or online via wchqfm.com or the WCHQ app.
Until next time, Go Cards!