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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tuesday Cardinal Couple - Volleyball Wrap-Up and UT-Martin in Basketball

Volleyball Wrap-Up

Fall sports are done for the year.  Volleyball was the last of the fall sports still in action, and with their loss to Illinois, their season is officially over.  I always like to take a look back at the season for this squad and look at what's in the future.

A season that all enjoyed and a season that, unfortunately, is the final one for some very memorable and productive players on Dani Busboom Kelly's roster. 

Injury Update

First, let's run down the latest info on injuries from the squad this year.

Melanie McHenry's knee continues to be a bit sore, but no permanent damage was done.  With a bit of time to rest and recover, she'll be back good as new in the spring and next fall.  With the exception of missing a couple of matches, she has mostly been back to full speed and power, just playing with some pain.

Emily Scott's diagnosis took a little longer to nail down.  Eventually it was determined that she had a broken bone.  Specifically the fibula, the smaller of the lower leg bones.  She was able to play for a couple of rotations in Illinois because the fibula is not weight bearing, and again, there was no danger of greater injury.  The break is not fully across the bone, and there are already signs of healing.  She should be back and full speed in the spring as well.

Alexis Hamilton will probably not be back to 100% for spring play, but there's no reason to think she won't make a full recovery.  She, of course, suffered an ACL tear just before the season started.    At this point, she is walking without a brace and without a noticeable limp.  Recovery of full strength and mobility of her knee will continue and she is expected to be back to full strength for the fall.

Kelly O'Neil's back issue is proving even harder to nail down than Emily's leg.  I had the opportunity to speak with her parents in Illinois, they reported that they are finding nothing "structurally" wrong, and that the problems are soft tissue in nature, but still not clear as to their nature.  I certainly don't have enough knowledge and experience to have any real thoughts about her return.  We are hopeful, of course, but with no certain answers, questions remain.

The Good and the Bad

So, analysis of the season...what went well, what needs to be improved, how did the team fare compared to expectations.

In reverse order:

The team did about as well as was expected.  They were picked to finish third in the ACC and
finished tied for 3rd with Syracuse (with a better overall record than the Orange).  They largely beat the teams they were expected to beat, lost to the teams that are national powerhouses.  In several of those matches, including against Pitt and Illinois, this team showed that they could play at the level of top teams for some time, but they were not able to show that they could do so enough to take the match.  The foundation is there, it just needs to be built upon.

The largest single point of improvement available to this team is service errors.  I compare these to free throws in basketball a lot.  Like a missed free throw, a service error is basically a gift to the other team.  Now, I do understand the need to serve aggressively, and how that leads to high risk/high reward serves, so the comparison with free throws isn't perfect.  The other way in which the comparison does work, however, is that volleyball players can get in the gym and practice serves on their own.  Beyond cleaning up service errors, it's a case of bigger, faster, stronger and other sorts of incremental improvements.  There was no glaring probably with this team keeping them from success, it's just a question of increasing the level of play to match the top teams.

Finally,  what went well?  This team did show that they have the talent and ability to play at a top level, they showed that they could seriously threaten the likes of Pitt and Illinois.  They had a goal of getting a black banner this year, and they didn't quite reach it, they will try again next year and hopefully be closer as they build on the solid foundation.

So what does that building look like?  We lose some great players, but honestly, I think we're in pretty good shape in most positions.

Molly Sauer was, in my estimation, probably the best libero in college volleyball this year, but Alexis Hamilton is a phenom in the making, Kelly O'Neil is fantastic if she can get back healthy.  We were pleasantly surprised by the emergence of the freshman Mia Stander who stepped up clutch to fill the DS role opened up by O'Neil's vacancy.

Jasmine Bennett was a fantastic middle for us, and with her graduation, expect to look to Emily Scott, on a fully healed leg, to step into a major role in the middle.  Piper Roe will be back for only her Junior season (she red-shirted a year) and continues to improve.  We also have a middle blocker joining next year, Amaya Tillman, that looks to have an impact.

Amanda Green quietly, somewhat in the shadow of Melanie McHenry, developed into a fantastic player.  Honestly, I think she has a shot at playing professionally if she chooses.  On the outside, though, we have a couple of players in the wings that can contribute well.  Claire Chaussee showed that she can play at that level, and just needs to work on reducing errors and playing more consistently.  Aiko Jones is an incredible athlete, that needs some volleyball polish, but has the possibility of being an explosive right side hitter.  Megan Sloan continues to improve year over year and will be back for her senior season.  Finally Marijke van Dyke showed that she can play well at that level as well.  Again, some polish and finesse will help her game improve.

Setter is the position that is concerning to me.  We do have a freshman coming in that looks to have the potential of being a good setter, but I'm always nervous leaning on a freshman setter.  I wouldn't be surprised if the coaching staff were out looking at and talking to some setters with the potential of transferring to plug this bit of gap.  Anaya Martin is listed on the roster as a setter, having now completed her freshman season, but at 5'7" I just don't know if she can be effective in a 5-1 system where the setter needs to be able to be a strong blocker as well.

In general, this team is ready to build into a stronger season next year.  If we have an answer in the setter position, I think we'll have the potential to get that black banner.

Basketball Tonight

The UT Martin Skyhawks come to the KFC Yum! Center tonight.  The Cards beat the Skyhawks last year 91-56.

Frankly, this one shouldn't be that much of a contest, but let's hope this squad isn't looking past this one to the UK game Sunday.  Look for contributions for UT Martin of 6'0" Damiah Griffen, 5'8" Emanye Robertson, 5'11" Aundrea Adams, and 6'2" Chelsey Perry.

The Skyhawks arrive with a 5-2 record, with losses to IUPUI, and Northwestern and notable wins over Arkansas State, Chattanooga, Southern Illinois, and Samford.

Perry, a 6'2" sophomore post leads UTM in scoring with 12.1 a night. UTM has several Kentucky high school players on the roster, including 5'10" freshman Emma Davis. She played on the Mercer County 2018 State Championship team and will get a chance to catch up with Seygan Robins, who was also on the title-winning squad.

The Skyhawks are coached by Kevin McMillian, who shouldn't be confused with Billy Bob Thornton, and who has been there nine years. He gave Paulie a very memorable interview a couple of years ago in Martin, after the Cards traveled there and dispatched of UTM 100-57. Louisville is 7-0 against the SkyHawks all time. 

The Cards should be looking to dispatch another mid-major, spread some playing time around to
continue getting everyone comfortable on the court, and take advantage of the development time while keeping key players rested and healthy for more challenging games ahead.

Kentucky next on Sunday.

Tonight's officiating crew consists of "Silly" Ed Sidlasky, Maggie Tieman and "Flyin'" Ryan Durham. We could do a lot worse...

If you can't make it out to the KFC Yum! Center for the 7 p.m. tip-off, it should be available on the ACC Network Extra. Listening to Louisville on 790 Cards Radio WKRD is always a good option with Nick and A.J.'s excellent commentary.

Next up...

EDITOR NOTE: Hi, Paulie butting in here to talk about the Football hire. Don't like that? Such is life.

Steve Satterfield, as many already know, is expected to be named the new UofL Football Coach today after the Board gives their approval. He's the sixth FB coach in the 21st. century at UofL (counting Bobby twice).

Mainstream Louisville sports media now goes to "Coaching Hire Review and Thoughts" phase after going through "Coach Replacement Need", "Coach Watch" "Brohm Watch", Brohm Decision",  "Coach Watch II" and "Satterfield Selection Scenarios".  From Appalachian State. Is there an "app" for that?

It's always something...

We'll remain Louisville women's athletics focused here at CARDINAL COUPLE  and wish "Satty" the best of luck and many successes. Starting next year with Notre Dame isn't exactly the way to get in the water and begin a swim, but, it's going to take some time to re-tool Cardinal football and you gotta start somewhere.

Returning player response has been favorable and positive about the hire. Not many details about the contract, but it is reported that UofL paid $1.5 for the buyout for App. State. From Boone, NC to Louisville. That's going to take some time, for sure, in climate adjustment and such.

SONG FOR THE SITUATION? Why, the classic Carpenter's "It's Going To Take Some Time This Time". of course!



(Some of today's photos from Jared Anderson...and even a few Paulie cell phone pics are added) 



  1. Gotta think Cards go to 9-0 tonight. Unfortunately I won't be there, on second shift the rest of the week due to a cold-hearted store manager and a few crucial transfers-out to other locations. I will be radio-ing, though. I hope Jared gets a lot of good sweater photos.

    Good job Vince on Satterfield. It's gonna take some time...

    Curtis "Are we done with Tennessee teams yet?" Franklin

  2. Satterfield damn near beat Penn State and Penn State to start the season, taking them to overtime. I hope he can at least get us to .500 in the next two years.

    UTM is loaded with Kentucky women! Emma Davis was a key part of those Mercer County title teams.

    She's played in all seven UTM games this year, hasn't started yet but leads the SkyHawks in threes made and is .476 from three point range. (11-23). Not bad for just a little over `21 minutes a game.

    1. Davis was on two State Championship teams at Mercer, played in the 2018 KABA All-Star game and was named MVP after a 20-point effort. She was also on the Kentucky roster for the KY/IN All-Star Classic.

      She is only averaging 12 minutes a game, though, not 21.

      She's hit at least one three against all the Skyhawks opponents except IUPUI. I'd compare her to the Cards Lindsey Duvall in game-style, Souder used her as a zone-breaker and rebounder, She played varsity for six years, starting in the seventh grade...1269 career points.

      Part of a squad at Mercer that had the Lake sisters, Seygan and Emmy Souder.


  3. Hoping that the Cards WBB game will be on-line (for real) tonight. This ACCNE is hit and miss and, if this is any preview of what the ACC Network is going to be like -- they better steal some technicians away from the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 Networks.

    Saw Davis play here in Louisville at the Girls LIT last year. You saw her, too, Paulie. That is, when you weren't busy filling your face with Chick-Fil-A up in the private room (HA-HA!). She's a gamer.

    This WBB test tonight against the Skyhawks is a good tune up for Kentucky. Louisville has never really been challenged by them in the past and won't be tonight.

    Good job on Howie's show this morning, Paulie. That lad is football nuts, though. I wonder if he spends his off-air time babbling incoherently in his car or man cave about this woeful 2-10 excuse-for-a-football team. Satterfield isn't going to come in and create a miracle.

    He's going to need to recruit a few classes first and this is the ACC. There are no Gardiner-Webb, Coastal Carolina or Georgia State pushovers lining the Cards schedule or in conference. The Cards were the worst football team in the ACC, by far, last year, so there's no way to go but up.

    Louisville Volleyball is going to need to re-invent themselves after this huge loss of graduating players. It's basically Melanie McHenry and the seven dwarfs. next year. JMO, of course, but you just don't go out and replace Sauer, Rivera, Bennett and Green like you were swapping shoes. Anne's girls are now pretty much gone, Dani. What you got?

    Nick O.

  4. No, I don't. Content to sit on the porch and watch the young pups run. Enjoy the sweaters, though. Can't speak for Worldwide. My guess is "no". Our sometimes-radio guest Paige Sherrard always participates and she's thrown down a challenge to Sam Purcell via Twitter this year with claims she'll "out-do" him. That's a pretty big task there. Don't underestimate her, though. Maybe JAred will get a few different sweater pics and we'll have an on-line picture judging contest in his Wednesday write up here at CARDINAL COUPLE.

    Feel better on the wrist and give it some time, David.


  5. That Karen Carpenter was one beautiful women until the the anorexia and she sure could sing. Thanks for the memory today.


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