Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Louisville Women's Basketball is 49 days away -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
SIZING UP THE SENIORS
The University of Louisville Women's Basketball squad plays their first game of the season in 49 days.
Snuck up on you, right? Western Kentucky comes to the Ville to face Jeff Walz's squad on Nov 5th. (Tuesday) for a 7 p.m. match.
That's also National Doughnut Day, so plan accordingly.
You'll remember last season, when the Cards opened the season in Bowling Green and left "the Hill" with a 102-80 win. Asia had a big night with 33 points and Arica Carter added 19. Sam Fuehring added four points. 56 points from three seniors.
This year's seniors totalled 33 of the Cardinal points that night. Yacine Diop led the way with 11 (OK, she's listed as a graduate, but since it's her final season as a Card, but put her in with the senior group). Kylee Shook finished with 10 points. Bionca Dunham put in four points, Jaz Jones also went for four points and JJess Laemmle played but didn't score.
So what about this group of five for 2019-20?
We can speculate that Jazmine Jones will be an important and needed player on this squad. Just where she plays will depend on the number of guards Walz decides to play at one time, but the explosiveness, leaping ability and smooth jumper she possesses will most likely be part of the starting five.
Jaz needs to be careful about getting herself in foul trouble...she led the team with 91 in 36 games last season. The 7.6 points per game and 23 minutes per night on the court are easily achievable again for her this ...but i see her topping those numbers, with the "terrific three" graduated. It's truly time for "J.J. Airlines" to take flight.
And, if she's "in the groove" and ready to go, the Cards would be well-advised to feed her the ball. Equally comfortable as a guard or wing, she's a player you can't slack off or back off on when you're playing defense against her. She'll make you pay, and collect interest on the balance due. How she does on the "three ball" could dictate her success level also.
The Cards have a proliferance of three-ball makers on the roster.
Yacine Diop knows this is her last chance to make an impression of WNBA and European league scouts, and she fully gets and understands the team concept, which is one of Walz's golden rules. She's a player that doesn't necessarily need to start to be a contributor and she showed she can takeover a game offensively during her time at Pitt. You have to be a little bit worried about her left knee, but, given the depth of this squad, I fully expect to see her out on the court around 20 or so minutes a game and I wouldn't be surprised at all if she was a double figure scorer for the Cards.
She has a strong drive and motivation working in her favor, not one who likes to be denied and her experience makes her a candidate to see minutes in close games and when things are a bit out of sync on the court. Her experience with the Senegal squad this summer was a great test and learning experience for her and is a huge weapon for Walz.
Kylee Shook is the leading returning rebounder (second behind Sam Fuehring last year) and she will be counted on to help fill Sam's role from last year. You need that blue collar, go-to-work in the paint brawler for rebounds and Kylee has the height. Does she have the battle mentality? She's also one who can take a post outside and make a defense pay from long range. The best combination would be to see that grit in the paint and the ability to step out and drill the long range jumper. And, her knee problems/soreness from last year seem to be alleviated with post-season treatment and procedures.
If it were me, I'd probably start her and rest assured...knowing that there was height and talent on the bench to come in and pick up where she left off when she leaves the game.
That being said, she only started three of 36 games last year. Walz found it better for her to watch a few minutes on the bench before entering. Development time is over, though. Time to go show what you've learned and earn the paycheck After interviewing her a couple of weeks ago, I came away with the impression that she's focused and ready to assume that role of the paint punish-er. Kylee also likes to throw "block parties"...she led the squad in blocked shots last year and you can expect to see a lot more of those this year. Kylee getting aggressive would be impressive.
Bionca Dunham drew 31 of the 36 starts last year as one of Fuehring's partner in paint pounding and has always seemed to work well with Shook inside. Her 169 rebounds were third on the squad and she had a lot of success in getting follow up points and offensive rebounds.
There has been speculation that she and Shook might be #1 and #1A in the paint at the power forward slot (if the NCAA clears another Cardinal for participation). One thing about "B", though, is you know she's going to bring the battle with her anytime she steps on the court. On a roster that has so many weapons that Walz could open an armament store, it'll be interesting to see how he uses her skills. Another huge key is this:
If you're in the paint, you can expect to get fouled and you need to convert from the line when you're sent there.
We'd like to see her become a 70%+ free throw shooter this year. She's been working on it in the off-season. After all, you can only take the "3 is better than 2" Walz free-throw theory so far. That 64% average that she shared with Jaz has to go up.
Jess Laemmle knows her court-time will be limited this year but it hasn't affected her work effort one bit. She can run the point, direct other players and provide a lot of inspiration and knowledge to the younger guards on the team. She's always been a huge fan favorite and the regular basketball fan seldom sees the hard work she puts in during practices. She probably won't be the starting point guard, but she'll have a wealth of advice for the guards when they come out of games. She sees, observes, analyzes and shares.
When called upon, she's an aggressive defender, can drill the three and direct the sequences on the court offensively and defensively. A player like Jess is vital to a team's continuity and cohesion. Our "Attack Yorkie" will be there and helping everyone else get better. She's the perfect example of a team player.
It's been quite fun, informative and revealing to interview these five seniors this summer. I'd like to thank them, for graciously participating, and WBB S.I.D. Nick Evans for doing the leg work in setting up times and venues, plus taking the photos of me and the players. We did these in three different venues. If you missed any of the interviews, I've listed them below.
LINK: YACINE DIOP INTERVIEW
LINK: JESS LAEMMLE INTERVIEW
LINK: KYLEE SHOOK INTERVIEW
LINK: BIONCA DUNHAM INTERVIEW
LINK: JAZMINE JONES INTERVIEW
I hope my speculation and theories here come to somewhat of a fruition...but, please remember that this is a very deep and talented roster and there are 11 other players that are hungry, committed to succeed and eager for court time.
This is the deepest roster that Walz has ever had here at Louisville and he and the coaches will be put to the test to utilize time management and combination skills like never before. I expect to see a whole lot of early combination variations as they get to know what works the best and who can do what with who, and when and where the players are most suited. And, you can expect to hear the always excellent Walz rhetoric on "what's what" as the season progresses.
Who can come in and do what "the big three" did last year and produce like they did?
Got some different takes than I? (After all, Coach is constantly trying to improve my "not ready for prime time" basketball IQ and theories). Sound off in the comments. It's never too early to start talking season assessments, hopes and expected performances.
Even for the village idiot like me.
You got a take, a hope, an observation or thought? Let's talk about it!
49 days. We'll start looking at the underclassmen next week.