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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

WBB To Face Three in Paradise Jam -- Volleyball at Pitt -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


#8 Louisville women's basketball takes their first road trip of the 2019-20 season and they're on an action-packed one. Three games in three days the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. If you wish to watch the Cards in action and are hoping for a TV or streaming venue, get out the credit card. 

Flo TV will televise the event but it'll run you $29.95 for a monthly subscription. 

I'm not in the Virgin Islands with the team, nor do I want to shell out for the broadcast (seems it was a lot cheaper when I used "FLO" for Softball this spring) so it'll be radio for me as the Cards play UT-Arlington, Oklahoma State and Oregon. Hello, Cards Radio. 

Thanksgiving Day at 1 p.m. is when UofL faces their first foe, the UT-Arlington Mavericks. Nope, not Tom Cruise and a few of his Top Gun pals...or a spin off of the NBA Dallas squad, but a Sun Belt Conference squad that is 4-0 so far this young season and has a win over Kansas State.

They refer to themselves as UTA, so we'll do the same. 

Three of those wins were on the road. They began the 2019-20 campaign hosting Chicago State (did I miss something and has the "Windy City" declared for and received statehood?) and downed the visiting Cougars 84-53. Next, a trip to Denton, TX to face North Texas. They left with a 68-49 win. UTA took on Tigers in Louisiana a few days later -- The Grambling State Tigers -- and beat them 88-54.

In their toughest test of the season so far, they tripped the light fantastic in Manhattan.

This is the Kansas town, not the Big Apple borough, and UTA upset K-State 57-53 on Sunday, Nov. 24th. The Mavericks jumped on the home team 14-7 in the first quarter and stretched that lead to 32-20 at the halftime break. 

UTA has the Sun Belt reigning Player of the Week in 6'1" senior forward Marie Benson. The Waco, TX native had 16 against the Wildcats in the Manhattan win, got her first start of the season a few days before that against Grambling, went 11-12 from the floor and gathered 27 points.  She was a star, and then transferred from UTSA (that's University of Texas - San Antonio) and has played in three games for the Mavs. She has 60 points on the season, good for a 20 points-per-game average. 

Other notable players on the Maverick roster are Claire Chastain, a 6'0" sophomore guard that is good for 11 points an outing, 6'5" post Misty Dossey, another sophomore contributing 10.5 a contest and a third sophomore Terryn Milton, a 5'9" play-maker that averages 9.8 per game. 6'3" Emma Halverson starts for UTA also, and adds 7.5 an event.

UTA is coached by 2019 Sun Belt Coach of the Year Krista Gerlich. Her daughter, Bryn Gerlich, plays for Paradise Jam attendee Oklahoma State, so there will be a mother-daughter match-up on Saturday between the two. 

The Mavs have some decent height and an a premium player in Benson, but they haven't faced talent like the Louisville squad has yet. I look for a game that will be close early, as the Cards revert to their previous ways of letting opponents hang around for awhile, before UofL's superior inside play and the dynamic duo of Jaz Jones and Dana Evans take charge.

Jeff Walz has been slow and non-committal to realize or say publicly that "J.J." and Dana are the engineers that drive this Louisville train, but, statistic speak for themselves. They run the show, create the excitement
and make the plays.

Which malady will Walz have to complain about following this first Paradise Jam game? Lack of defense? Rebounding woes? Shooting inconsistency? Free throws? Putbacks?  Or will the Cards find a new mistake to make?

Walz has been quick to point out each game what the Cards WBB squad has done wrong. All the while, UofL WBB is 5-0, #8 or #9 in the rankings, depending on who you follow, and winning games by an average of 27 points a contest. Jelling still? OK, maybe, but I think it's time to drop the "we can't do (this or that) well" litany and start a "look what we can do Louisville" campaign. Sing it, Hazel Miller !! 


But, if UTA shows their 4-0 record and win over K-State was no fluke and they give the Cards a beating or make Louisville sweat out a close one...get ready to put in the ear buds and cue up "The Walz Blues Collection".  

Tournaments like this are designed for the teams (and those fans who can afford to be there) to have a little fun in a tropical venue, play some quality opponents in rapid succession and learn more about themselves in conference tournament-like settings. Let's see what Louisville learns, starting tomorrow, and whether they are dancing to a steel-drum led calypso beat or sitting on the stoop playing more blues harmonica. 

The Cards face the OSU Cowgirls Friday and #1 Oregon Saturday. We'll have more on those foes here at Cardinal Couple later this week. 

ANALYSIS: Walz shouldn't have much to moan about after this one. Let's say LOUISVILLE 84- UTA 49 in a contest where the Cards guards put on a show in the tropics. 


No easy task here for Cardinal Volleyball, with this Wednesday trip to the town with three rivers. Pitt is #2 in the nation,  28-1 overall, 17-0 in the ACC and 14-1 at home (The Peterson Event Center) . Only Penn State has hung a "L" on these "Panthers of the Pete" and it was a five-set one. 

When the Cards and Panthers faced about a month ago in the LNFCU, Louisville didn't exactly get blown out. Although this one was a three-set triumph for UP, the set were fairly close at 25-21, 25-22 and 25-20. That one was 11 days after Louisville lost Melanie McHenry for the season against Notre Dame and the VolleyCards have also gone through a jelling process with Claire Chaussee, Aiko Jones, Amber Stivrins and others trying to fill the gap created by losing Mel. 

Since that Pitt game, the Cards have gone 4-3 bit it should be pointed out that Louisville is on a three-game win streak, all three-set triumphs. 

Whether these rebuilt Cards can head into the Panther lair and pull off a monumental upset or not remains to be seen. Pitt has powerful players in hitters Chinaza Ndee, Layne Van Buskirk, Stephanie Williams and the incredible Kayla Lund. 

Hali Hillegas is the digs leader and Sabrina Starks is a blocking force. Dependable Aeko Lexis is an assist machine. 

You can view this one on the ACC Network at 6 p.m. and Jared will offer the recap in our Thanksgiving Day Cardinal Couple article. 

I'll wish you a Happy Thanksgiving a day early, and, if you don't see a turkey sitting at the table, look in the mirror, it's probably you.

Be thankful for what you've got. I'll leave you with William De Vaughn's classic song from 1974. 


Have a wonderful Wednesday ! 



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