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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Countdown to Notre Dame -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


One of the games Louisville fans had on their schedule before the first game of the season ever tips off tomorrow.  Louisville and Notre Dame are set to square off in South Bend at the Purcell Pavilion.

With the UConn loss at Baylor last weekend a new team has claimed the spot in the charts.  The Irish, who also are the reigning national champions gladly took the No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll.  Louisville is close behind at No. 2, tying the highest ranking in program history.  The Irish had 12 first place votes and 715 overall.  The Cards received 10 first place votes and 708 overall.  The Huskies, who the Cardinals host in three weeks, fell to No. 3 with three first place votes and 701 total votes.

Going back to Louisville vs Notre Dame, this is the only scheduled match-up between the two teams this season, although these two teams facing each other in the ACC Tournament final is expected.  Last season, the only regular season match-up was hosted by the Cards at the KFC Yum! Center.  That win became memorial to UofL fans as the Cards crushed the Irish 100-67.  Asia Durr and Myisha Hines-Allen totaled Notre Dame's entire point total.

The Cards and Irish met in the ACC Championship game and played a much closer game.  Louisville trailed by two at halftime but came back in the second half to secure a two-point victory for their first ACC Championship.  The Cards claimed the conference title in the regular season and tournament.

This season, Louisville remained one of three undefeated teams remaining alongside NC State and the Ohio (Bobcats, not Ohio State Buckeyes).  Notre Dame is 14-1 after suffering an early season home loss to UConn 89-71.  The 71 points is the Irish's lowest point total of the season.

Notre Dame has wins over ranked opponents Oregon State, DePaul (receiving votes category), Gonzaga, and Marquette.  Their two conference wins came at home against Pittsburgh 100-44 and at Georgia Tech 76-55.  The Rambling Wreck was 11-3 going into the Notre Dame game. Even if it is rebuilding Pitt -- a 56-point victory against any opponent is certainly an impressive feat.

Averaging 90 points per game, Notre Dame's biggest threat is their offense.  They have a strong .345 three-point percentage despite only making four per game.  From the free throw line Notre Dame is shooting 75%, on par with the Cards, and make a whopping 17.5 per game.  With a high-scoring offense it's expected to see a high number of assists per game.  The Irish don't disappoint with 19.5 assists per game.

On the defensive side, the Irish have still been strong, but have had some tough times against high-powered offenses.  Notre Dame is allowing allows 64.1 pints per game.  They're holding teams to a .366 field goal percentage, fairly average for ranked teams' defenses.  The Irish force 16 turnovers per game, eight and a half of those being steals.  The Irish record five blocks per game.

Breaking down each quarter, opponents typically have their best quarter at the beginning of the game.  Notre Dame will crank things up the middle two quarters before relaxing in the final quarter.  Louisville and Notre Dame are similar with their fourth quarters.  Both squads usually have a sizable lead and will pull off the gas.  It's also the time of the game you see some of the reserve players come in to get playing time experience.

Louisville's best chance to win this game is to come out firing from the get-go.  Notre Dame has given up the most points in the first quarter and has not played catch-up much this season.  The worst thing for the Cards would be to start slow and go down big early.  The Irish don't give up leads once they take them and the crowd in the Purcell Pavilion can be unforgiving.

On the personnel side of things, Notre Dame returns four starters from last season in Arike Ogunbowale, Marina Mabrey, Jessica Shepard and Jackie Young. Two time All-ACC First team defender Brianna Turner is back also. The 6'3" redshirt senior sat out last year with a knee injury.
Those five do the bulk of the scoring for Notre Dame, no one else averages mote than five points a game for them.

A slimmed-down Jessica Shepard has really become one of the keys for the Itrish in the 2018-19 season. She lost 40 pounds over the summer-fall of 2018.

I expect Paulie will dive deeper into the match-up tomorrow and break down their starting five plus a whole lot more about the contest.

He'll also have the Jeff Walz/Arica Carter interview that takes place today at 12:30 down at the Cards practice facility on Floyd Street.

This game is a prime-time feature on ESPN, making it easy to find a place to watch it.  Let's hope the Cards shine in the national spotlight and perhaps earn their first ever No. 1 ranking come next week.

Happy Wednesday and Go Cards!

- Jared -


  1. Cards have their work cut out for them up there in South Bend, but Walz has defeated basically this same team twice in a row. He knows how to do it. Up there, it will be tougher. They sell out a lot of their home games and I's wager this one is sold out as well.

    Prime time. Let's go Cards!

    Curtis "Ready for the showdown" Franklin

  2. We can beat them, on their floor. Just gotta pack a lunch, gonna take hard work.

  3. Game is a sold out affair. Walz was like "sure we want to win, but it's not the end of the season if we don't" attitude in his presser today. The new coming of "Cool Hand Luke" We'll have that entire presser with him and Arica Carter in tomorrow's column.


    1. Also, stayed around and watched practice awhile after the presser. Meither Asia nor Arica missed a three the entire time I watched and Lindsay missed just one.

      A good thing.


  4. Paulie or anyone.

    This I think has been asked before here. Who is the walk-on who practices with the Cards but doesn't play in games?

    1. You're most likely referring to Alexis Barlow. She practices with the team but isn't officially considered a walk-on. She played at Holy Cross, Fern Creek and Winter Park, FL. in high school. A guard, maybe 5'6"-5'7". She wears #10 in practice

      That is about all I know. No word on whether she's trying for a scholarship or official walk on status. She hasn't, as you have pointed out, played in a game.

      In today's practice I watched, she was with Jess, Molly and the guys practice team getting instruction for a scrimmage against the roster later. Steph Norman was coaching them up, so my guess is they were going to try and simulate a few Notre Dame sets and defenses. I wasn't able to stay long enough to verify that.


  5. The way I see this one is Asia and Arica vs. Arike and Shepard. Whoever has the most points in that match up wins the game. Simple but I think it'll be the decider.

    Nick O.

    1. Nah, not that simple. We have other players who can score and so do they. I think it comes down to who executes end of the game better.

  6. Stub Hub still has a number of tickets available all over the arena with a 9100 capacity.

    Seating does surround and looks down on the floor.


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