Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Louisville women's basketball ready for another breakout season -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
WBB CARDS RETURN DEPTH AND EXPERIENCE
Two weeks before Louisville WBB travels to Bowling Green, KY to start the 2018-19 season against WKU. A new hoops season on the cusp.
It seems like a good time to put out a pre-season look at this Cards women's basketball squad. I'll be attending practice today to see what I can see...and one can't really gleam a whole lot from one particular practice, so I'm treating it as a treat, if you will. A chance to see one of the top five teams in women's college basketball do work. No critical eye today and I don't expect to see any miracles happen. Just wanna watch some hoops.
I'll be there with Jared Anderson. He'll probably build tomorrow's article around it. No promise of any interviews for us, just a couple of fans going to see some ball.
In Louisville, a squad that returns everyone from last year but graduated Myisha Hines-Allen and transferred Loretta Kakala and Sydney Zambrota. Eight back that experienced the Final Four. You know the names. Durr. Fuehring, Carter, Jones, Shook, Dunham, Evans, Laemmle. The Cards also get Lindsey Duvall back from her red-shirt year. They bring in the talented Yacine Diop as a transfer from Pitt. They add three talented freshmen in Seygan Robins, Mykasa Robinson and Molly Lockhart. No coaching changes. Same Sam Purcell dressing with fashion, flair and getting wild-eyed and loud. The studying and tranquil Sam Williams. Beth Burns making sure the warriors are ready to perform to their ultimate ability. Stephanie Norman, watching, evaluating...with the longest tenure in the Walz staff. She's seen it, lived it and learned from it.
And then there is Coach Walz. Add your own thoughts and description here. He's created a couple/few memories over the years. Jeff is his own man. Confident in his stride and path. The mad scientist. With the knowing wink and easy smile. The kid in the lunch room with the most change in his pocket and the one who turns heads. A Louisville legend. A future Hall-of-Fame coach. Pay the guy, Vince. Send it over on a silver platter.
Perhaps the most asked question in the off-season was: "How do you replace Hines-Allen?" Short of bringing in her brother, Josh, who's tackling everything within a 50 mile radius of Lexington...the answer is: "With several talented players, each picking up a portion of the things that Myisha did."
One would expect Kylee Shook, Bionca Dunham, Sam Fuehring and Yacine Diop to augment their already excellent skills to make up the Myisha graduation and departure to the WNBA. Molly Lockhart, we learned a while back, will red-shirt. Sam Fuehring has been working with her daily, we hear, to get her acclimated and "college game" tough and knowledgeable. The two look like bookends, to begin with. Molly will benefit greatly.
Then, there is the Durr factor. She is the best player in women's college basketball, and that isn't a "Mike the Clemson TIger, Wild-Eyed, out-of-context" boast.
Asia Durr is a maker.
The simple description goes back to a Jeff Walz statement. Players tell Coach Walz that they are shooters. He says that is great but what he's looking for are makers.
Arica Carter has given her heart, soul, body and time to Louisville women's basketball. The graduate senior is a steady, intelligent and confident point guard that studies the game, knows her opponent and is another maker. Maker of plays, capitalizing on situations...performing as a veteran. California is known for sunshine, glamour and movie stars.
And, Arica Carter.
Sam Fuehring works. I would imagine, even in her deepest night-time slumber, she's working. Working for the team. Getting the rebound, the putback, the stop, the charge. The dedication, the drive and the desire. Her story is one of perseverance, improvement and effort. All wrapped in a quiet confidence and goal of going back to the dance.
Jazmine Jones is many things. Incredible quick-as-a-cat skills, infectious enthusiasm, "did you see that?" play-making ability and amazing athletic talent. We joked on the radio last Saturday that Jazzy could keep herself entertained, busy and get a lot done for hours, by herself, in a broom closet. Putting her on a 94 feet long and 50 feet wide basketball court venue gives her an infinite number of opportunities to be the "whoa!" and electrifying factor.
Dana Evans = speed. The sonic sophomore could be in two time zones at once. We've just begun to see what potential and skills sets she has. It's going to be a fun three years watching her do work. I'd bet her if she was entered in the Kentucky Derby. You can bet I'll be watching her all season on the hardwood.
Yacine Diop made a career at Pitt by out-working, out-scoring and baffling opponents. Ask Jeff Walz. He watched her run free-form over his Louisville squad for several years and, when he had the chance to bring her into his system, he jumped at the chance. We'll have her all-around game for just a year...but what a year that promises to be.
Kylee Shook can do it all. Torch you from outside, out-rebound you, out-work you and out-hustle you. She'll be called on to do all of that this season. Head and shoulders above the rest, in height and desire...she is the most likely to inherit Myisha minutes. She''ll have to earn them, though. Nothing is given away, taken for granted or guaranteed in the Walz system of basketball. If the work effort is absent or the performance is lacking...you watch until you prove you are up to what's expected.
Bionca Dunham knows there is a lot out there for the taking and is working hard to gather it in. We saw flashes of what the Philly Phenom could do last year. She's strong on the boards and she can shut down an opponent on both ends of the court. The door is open now for her to walk in and claim what she wants and what the team needs. We have no doubt she'll "get some".
Jess Laemmle knows basketball. She's a valuable spark plug that is tenacious, hard-working and perfectly capable of giving Walz quality minutes whenever she enters a game. We refer to her as the "attack Yorkie" on the radio and here at the site. Size is an after-thought to her. She's intent on hustle, putting on pressure and helping the team. All great armies have the dedicated foot soldiers, troops in the trenches. Jess is of that mold. No fear and having the time of her life.
There are more stories and chances to build a identity for the incoming freshmen Robins, Robinson and Lockhart and for the red-shirt Duvall. They will have their chances in their four years here to prove what they can do and how they can be a part of the successes and triumphs that Louisville women's basketball will earn.
You earn it. Nothing is guaranteed or should be taken for granted. Plenty of adversaries that would like that feather-in-the-cap honor of knocking off a national power-house. The determining factors for success include many things. How badly do you want it? How hard are you willing to work for it? How will you react if it isn't going your way...to adversity? Will you be the one still standing at the end? How far are you willing to go? conference and non-conference
Two weeks until the thrill and excitement of Cards WBB gets unveiled in games against the foes. I admittedly steal this from the Andy Williams Christmas holiday song....but we are approaching "the most wonderful time of the year" in two weeks and it'll stay with us until the jonquils and daffodils pop up from the ground to salute the spring and ornament another Final Four run for UofL women's basketball.
SING IT, ANDY !
We'll end this Tuesday column with an anonymous quote that Beth Burns recently tweeted out:
"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter if you are a lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up - you better be running."