Paulie and Jared Attend WBB Practice
Jeff Walz's squad is set and ready to go for the upcoming season. Well, they're at least headed in the right direction.
For me, this was my first practice I have attended. I had no expectations because I had no idea what would actually happen.
There were a few key things I noticed with this team:
-Yacine Diop appears to be playing with the post players for the most part.
-The full court press is not yet ready to go, but once completed it is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
-This team will be perfectly in shape this season and will be one of the quickest and most versatile rosters in the NCAA.
-The possibilities of players on the court are endless for Walz's squad and we could see different looks with whichever five were on the court.
Although I cannot go into great detail of what exactly transpired at practice I can discuss a few details.
The team started at the far goal, but we had no issue observing the action from our elevated seats on the second level balcony. The table and chairs provided great comfort, but we were told there would be no waiter service or hors d'oeuvers. The Iowa-native Al Greener stopped by for a few minutes to join us. Sans trombone.
Sam Purcell and Steph Norman worked with the post players on their moves down low for the easy bucket. Molly Lockhart, Bionca Dunham, Sam Fuehring, Kylee Shook, and Yacine Diop seemed to handle it well and Diop took things a step further by going for the reverse layup.
The rest of the squad found their rhythm from the corners, nailing the corner shot. Asia Durr seems to already be in mid-season form from three-point range. Jess Laemmle showed no fear in pulling up from deep range as she will compete for minutes from the bench. Jess also spent time with the male practice players making sure certain sets and progressions were run correctly.
Arica Carter and Dana Evans both are geared up to captain the offense on the court. It is clear why Walz can trust these two with the ball in their hands during the game as their controls are near-flawless.
We did not see any free throw practice today. That is an aspect of the game that can be rehearsed outside of a full team practice. For most of the season free throws seemed to be just fine often earning a lowercase "f" or capital "F", in the Paulie FRED review system... but there's always room for improvement, right?
It was good seeing everybody healthy and being able to go 100%. The sight of older, experienced players coaching the newer players shows signs of success and mentoring for both the near future and many years to come.
One thing that stood out to me was the difference between a quiet practice and a loud, energized practice. Walz did not like the first of those two as he took time out of practice to rip the players for how quiet it was. The moment the players were loud and cheering each other on we could see an immediate difference in how much better practice went and how the energy intensified. You could compare the silence to a cheap bourbon found in a hole in the wall place near a college campus and the loud, energetic practice to the fine, expensive bourbon that took years to make in the back roads of a Kentucky distillery.
Bionca Dunham knows where the backboard and rim are and made life difficult for the male practice players with her seemingly effortless ability to out-position them and gather missed shots. Seygan Robins showed her three-skills were alive and well. I could go into a lot of detail about the remaining players but we were just there to watch, enjoy and observe -- not critique too much.
We were appreciative of the chance to witness a practice run as it helped me better understand Walz's motives on the court (besides win) and it was a good chance to get back into the swing of things with women's basketball.
A special "thank you" to the players who gave us a nod or hand wave while warming up and to Nick Evans who checked with us several times to see how we were doing and took time to converse with us. We eventually migrated down to court level with him and got the chance to talk with Coach Walz briefly after the practice to thank him for having us. Rumors that he's going to have Paulie referee in practices were thankfully quashed at that time.
I took no pictures during the practice. That's a no-no and we did no player or coach interviews. This was their time. A time to prepare for the season and we respected that. We were just happy to watch.
Kate Tucker, the director of operations, also spoke with us briefly as we were leaving and thanked us for coming. Even Sam Purcell, who seemed to be doing 90 things at once during the practice we saw, acknowledged us and it was fun to watch him (and Walz) on the court, playing various player roles when they wanted to demonstrate a point or concept.
Read all about it here: 2018-19 ACC Preseason Awards and Rankings
Song reference: Red Necks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer
The WBB Cards first game is two weeks away when the Cards visit Western Kentucky on Tuesday, Nov. 6th, at 7:00 p.m., EST. They'll then travel to Chattanooga and Boise State (Round of 64 rematch) before heading to Vegas for a three-game mini-tournament. Louisville's first home game will be against Miami (OH) on Monday, Nov. 26. Paulie will give a game-by-game breakdown soon.
Happy Wednesday and Go Cards!
- Jared -