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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Louisville women's basketball faces the Orange tonight -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


Jeff Walz has talked about the tough stretch to start February throughout the season. The Cards, over a two week period, started with Clemson, bring in Syracuse, go to Virginia Tech and host Miami in the stretch. With Clemson dispatched on Saturday, Louisville turns to the next test...a Thursday night visit from Quentin Hillsman's Syracuse Orange WBB squad. 

Syracuse is a squad that takes nearly half their field goal attempts from beyond the three-point arc (625 out of 1405). They make 32% of those threes (200 out of those 625). When they're not bombing away from the deep, they employ a full-court press on defense, hoping to get a turnover/transition game started. SU will drop back into a 2-3 zone if they don't create the turnover. Syracuse forces a lot of turnovers...416 total for almost 20 a game. 

So, how does #2 UofL counteract this type of defensive pressure? Coach Walz didn't reveal a lot about that aspect of Syracuse's game, except to stress his players and staff had studied the scouting report and that Louisville would have to rebound and score. The Cards haven't faced a defense quite like this so far. How they handle the press will be a key aspect of this game and how they perform against the zone...can they have the success they've had from three-point range continue? 

The Syracuse losses have come at Oregon (73-75), at Minnesota (81-83 in overtime), at Georgia Tech (55-65) and hosting Miami (71-84). They haven't faced Notre Dame and NC State yet or Florida State. Key wins are Texas A&M, Clemson and North Carolina. 

Who has been getting it done for "Q"'s squad? Tiana Mangakahia leads the Orange in scoring with 15.9 points a night. She also leads them in assists with 8.1 per contest. The 5'6" junior guard from Australia was selected for the preseason All-ACC squad and hasn't disappointed. 

Containing her is a huge "must" for the Cards tonight.

Guards Gabrielle Cooper and forward Miranda Drummond are also double digit scorers for Syracuse. Digna Strautmane had a five-game double digit scoring stretch in January and 6'4" center Amaya Finklea-Guity was named to the 2017-18 All ACC Freshman team. Off the bench, Q employs Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi on the front line and guards Kiara Lewis, Isis Young and Emily Engster. 

SU has a large contingent of international players on the roster. Of the 16 that dress for games, three are from France, one from the Czech Republic, one from Canada, one from Latvia and one from Australia. 

And, then, there is "Q". He came to Syracuse thirteen years ago, so his and Walz's head coaching career are pretty much congruent. Hillsman is widely known for his flashy, stylish game-day dressing displays, a manic, expressive and emotional coaching style and has been described as "the Temptations performing at a basketball game".

He's probably my favorite opposing coach to watch on the women's college basketball sidelines and, over the years, has performed impromptu interviews with the opponent's radio crew during the contest, come back enraged from the locker room after a game to belabor a point and passed out from exhaustion/excitement during a game. 

Another tough test in the ACC. A coach that comes in 280-140 lifetime in his career but just 5-8 against Walz. The Cards lead the overall series 10-6. A chance for the Cards to stay in bed with their fellow first place bunk-mates (NC State and Notre Dame) and a chance for Syracuse to knock off one of the front runners. Notre Dame goes to Miami tonight and NC State travels to Florida State, so we'll be keeping our eyes on those two key games. 

As for this game, it's on the ACCNE with Don, Sara and Cortnee (the cookie monster) on the sidelines. Radio with Nick and AJ on 790 WKRD AM Cards Radio. A 7 p.m. start that will be officiated by Karen Preato, Jennifer Rezac and Jules Gallien. 

You might remember Karen. She was the lone female on the crew that whistled 43 fouls (28 on Louisville) back on 1/10/19 in South Bend when the Cards fell to Notre Dame.

We'll recap the action here tomorrow. 


Coach Walz met with the media yesterday for his weekly press conference. An entertaining and factual 20 minutes ensued, with Walz talking about Monopoly, Jr, Coach Q, the Play-4-Kay Free Throw Challenge and many other items. 

WE have it linked up for you below. You can actually hear the questions we were asking Walz since the old "pass a microphone to the question-asker" strategy was employed and it worked pretty well for the most part. 

It's worth a view. 


Have a terrific Thursday. The monsoon season continues outside here locally. We have the staff chimps here at Cardinal Couple following Case's blueprint and design for a Cardinal Couple Ark. So far, they've gone through a barrel of nails, 451 2X4's, 18 injuries and a vessel that looks like a combination of a tree-house, stack of pallets and Tom Hanks' raft from the movie "Cast Away". 

Hope springs eternal.



  1. "Cast Away" of my favorite Hanks movies.

    Thanks for the links to the press conferences. Walz is always an entertaining interview.

    Paulie, how many media types typically attend the pressers? Is the C-J usually represented? Danielle Lerner?

    Unfortunately I'm going to miss the game tonight. We sit opposite the benches, and "Q" always gets my attention. He's great for the women's game.

    1. On pressers, it's usually some film crews for the local TV stations, they don't ask a lot of questions unless Whitney Harding is behind a camera (WHAS). I'm there regularly and Cardinal Couple Radio regular Daryl Foust is usually there. there is usually a Courier-Journal rep or two, yesterday it was Tim Sullivan, sometimes the new kid. Danielle doesn't make many, WBB isn't her prime focus anymore. Rick Bozich (WDRB) stopped by yesterday too. Don Russell (ACCNE) is usually there. So are Nick & Nick (Evans-SID and Curran play-by-play radio guy).

      It can vary. Sometimes Fred Cowgill, Jody Demling and Howie Lindsey show up.

      I usually walk by your area en route to Media Row at games. Feel free to give me a shout next time. I'll be doing a lot of "Q" watching tonight...he is a trip.


  2. Stopping Tiana is huge and hiting 1/3 of your threes isn't a bas number at all. The Cards hit almost 40% of theirs. Just as important is gathering those two out of three misses from 3 point range by SU.

    Q is a trip. Who knows what fun and drama he has in store for the Louisville fans tonight.

    It is the ACC. Nothing is easy. Go CARDS!

    Curtis "What do I have to do to dress like Q?" Franklin

  3. Love the Mike to hear the questions. Should be a requisite at all pressers.
    Cards should be able to come out with the win tonight, as long as they play with the focus that they've been displaying of late.

    1. WBB SID Nick Evans hears you (and others). I expect it'll be standard at all post-games from now on, it's actually been implemented sine the start of the season but, you know how some of us knuckle-head media types are.


  4. I don't see Louisville having much trouble with the press Syracuse uses, not with the Cards guards. The Orange three-point shooting can go hot and cold. At Duke, they shot 40% from three range. 42% against UNC. At Ga Tech, they fared only 19% and went for 16% when they hosted Miami.

    They usually won't budge from the zone, either. I remember a few years back that Becky Burke couldn't miss from outside and made like 8 or 9 against them, but Q wouldn't bring them out of the zone. If it comes to that, let's hope our bombers are on their games.

    Nick O.


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