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Monday, February 3, 2020

Team USA 97 - Louisville 54 -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE



It is amazing what a couple of days of practice can do for a team. Team USA got a couple of days to practice together here in Louisville as a full squad and it resulted in a convincing 97-54 win over Louisville women's basketball yesterday, on Super Bowl Sunday, in front of 12008 appreciative fans in the KFC YUM! Center. 

The 12 players that USA put on the court for this one, according to USA assistant coach Dan Hughes, hadn't had the opportunity to practice as a unit that since they reunited in late January, after a two-and-one-half month lay-off and the pros took off against the Cards after a close first quarter that got Louisville's fans hopes up. 

It was Louisville with the early 21-17 lead after 10 minutes, rallying with a 10-0 run to go from trailing 13-9 to leading 19-13 over a three minute stretch in the first. Yacine Diop and E. Balogun getting it done offensively in that stretch with eight points . USA had shot just 30% in the first quarter. But, the professionals woke up after that. 

At halftime, USA had rallied to lead 45-30. There is a truism in basketball which is "the closer you are to the basket, the better the chance the ball has in going in" and USA began their domination inside. A 20-2 points-in-paint advantage for USA. Sylvia Fowles, Breanna Stewart, Angel McCoughtry and Katie Lou Samuelson had donned the hard hat, punched in on the clock and were going to work for Team USA. 

This was the pros. They were hard to compete with. It was a challenge and a test. 

USA won the overall points-in-the-paint battle for the afternoon 64-24. They also had a 30-2 advantage in points-off-turnovers. Their incredible speed and knack for getting the ball out so fast on a rebound and ending up with a layup was fun to watch, even if they were doing it to the Cardinals. The best players in the game today  scored 23 fast break points and shot 53% for the game after the slow start. 

the fifteen point half time lead blossomed into a 65-48 advantage after three. Louisville had hung in their in the third and USA only took a 20-18 point advantage. But, a squad of Team USA's stature, really has no "reserves" or bench, and while Jeff Walz was getting all of his players some meaningful playing time against the All-Stars in the fourth, those that didn't start for USA were not letting. The 32-6 fourth quarter turned into a event where USA was getting plenty of fast-break layups, A'ja Wilson had four of them, and the final ended up 97-54.

Angel looked happy, relaxed, smiled a lot and spoke in glowing terms of what she's seen happen here in Louisville since she went to find her fortunes in the WNBA. 

She's a free agent now and will most likely be worth a lot to some deserving WNBA Franchise.

I got the chance to say a couple of words to "Big Syl" Sylvia Fowles as I walked back to the media room for post-game coverage. She had taken a shot-to-the-face during an under-the-boards tussle during the game and gone to the bench with a towel over her face for a bit. 

She looked me dead in the eye and said that, despite the score, she thought this Cardinal team was easily one of the top four in the nation and could very well win it all come NCAA Tournament time. And she said it in all sincerity and with a serious look on her face.

The circus came to town (actually twice, because the Shrine Circus was over at Broadbent Arena yesterday, too). They performed well, daring feats of strength, agility, balance and entertained the crowd. There were feats of derring-do, incredible balancing acts, a bit of lion-taming and a hoard of elephants that trampled across Denny Crum Court. The ferocious lions of this USA squad weren't held back and the only thing missing was a gaggle of clowns.

(Maybe certain members of the media could fill in as the clowns...) 

Team USA showed what being on the same page after a bit of preliminary work could produce. Sue Bird, the veteran ring-master, in control and enjoying all of it. 

Here's the thing. We got to see only 12 of the 35 players that make up the 2019-20 USA Basketball Women's National Team Pool. In Louisville, we saw eight of the 12 that'll go to Serbia on Feb 6th. for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.

Brittany Griner, Jewell Loyd, Tifffany Mitchell and Ariel Atkins replace Angel, Skylar Diggins Smith, Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum.  Yesterday, the last four had  33 of USA's points. An example of just how deep this USA team is. 

Beloved Cardinal Angel McCoughtry returned to the city where she became famous, played her first game ever in the downtown arena and had a nice afternoon -- with 11 points in 20 minutes. The love affair, all all these years, was rekindled between the Cardinal Faithful and the player who helped get it all started here in the 'Ville. 


YABBA DABBA DOO. We bet Fred Flintstone loves
TEAM USA WBB, too !  
(A FRED report here might be a bit trivial, since it was an exhibition and nothing was on the line to affect season averages an such, but, it's tradition and we'll offer it anyway.) 

FREE THROWS --  The refs let 'em play and that was OK. Only 19 total fouls. Lousville went to the line eight times and hit six of the attempts. Jaz got half the chances. The 75% gets a CAPITAL "F" for our standards 

REBOUNDS -- Team USA captured the grabs battle 41-35, but used a 10-3 rebounding edge in the fourth quarter to push ahead of Louisville. Diop had eight to lead Louisville. I'll offer a small case "r" here, Louisville was competitive on the glass when the ball wasn't going through the basket and held "Big Syl" to just nine. 

EXECUTION/EFFICIENCY -- 25 turnovers against the best team in the world is expected. 10 assists on 22 made shots maybe a bit low. 36.7% shooting is way below the Cards average, but, consider the competition. USA also had 17 steals. I liked the first and third quarter efforts out of the Cards, but the overall numbers just don't add up to an letter earned here. 

DEFENSE -- Louisville looked good at times guarding Team USA, but they allowed USA 53.2% shooting success, 64 points-in the-paint and simply couldn't keep up with USA's speed when they were in possession of the ball. Again, you're playing the best in the world. No letter for defense. 



The post game media presser links below: 







It was a wonderful two hours of basketball to witness. That statement will be the only time you ever hear it from me after a 43-point loss. 

Such a great learning experience for the Cards that'll only make them stronger and more aware of what it takes to be a professional. An incredible experience for the fans. Do not take any of the blasphemous lunacy from certain media who question how much yesterday's loss will affect the Cards the remainder of the season. These types of negative journalism should leave for Serbia along with Team USA. 

Negativity has no place in a exhibition such as this one.

Louisville is still a top five team. Cardinal fans got to rejoice and celebrate the return of a player who put Louisville women's basketball on the map. The crowd got to see the best in the world for two magical hours and saw a very competitive Louisville team go head-to-head with them for two of the quarters and actually win the first and third session 39-37.

That's a pretty good  afternoon, readers.

Hailey, meets Paulie. Uh, oh....
Future Cardinal Hailey Van Lith and her dad were in for the game, along with other Louisville basketball recruits. The Van Lith's trekked in all the way from Wenatachee, Washington. I'm sure they enjoyed the event and would imagine Hailey formulated a whole lot of opinions on the skills needed to play at this level and, also, to perform in front of a crowd who loves, enjoys and knows basketball. It was such a great honor to meet and chat with them before the contest and get a photo opportunity.

Hailey is an energetic, wonderful and gracious person that will be so fun to watch and have in our community for four years. What Louisville will be "with Van Lith" is such an exciting proposition ! 

You're gonna love her, Louisville ! 

(Today's excellence in photography from the incomparable Jared Anderson. Plenty more of the images below these words, too !) 




  1. Good morning Paulie. So glad u could join us this morning !

    Damn, they were impressive. Whoever the moron was would kept pressing coach and the Cardinal players in the post game about the severity of the loss and such needs to be horse-whipped after being tied to the whipping post.

    This wasn't about scores and comparisons to other games. This was about the beauty of Team USA coming to the Ville and our girls challenging them.

    Great write. Send it to that sad old man (if it was who I think it was) who effectively shut up Dana Evans at the end of the presser.

    Curtis "Go CARDS Go" Franklin

  2. Nice job Paulie. Great experience for Cards players.
    On another note how bout them BC EAGLES! Now 5-5 conference record with Syracuse coming to town Thur. Most Conf wins since 2014-15 (5) and season isn’t near over yet. Turnover city verse Wake Forest and they still won by double digits. Just win baby!!!

    1. Joanna has them believe in Boston what they can do and that's a neat thing to see.


  3. Thank God ACC has a lot of mediocre teams this year. Gives the improving BC a chance against less athletic, slower paced teams like ND Ga Tech and Wake.

  4. Can't compare THIS game to ANY other on the schedule. To do so is idiotic. And my opinion is that it is somewhat unfair to the rest of the teams that didn't get to play against them. Playing the best of the best, getting great advice, will pay off come tournament time.

    1. Agree 100% and it just shows that if you carry a media badge it definitely doesn't make you a basketball expert.

      The continual pressing the issue of a bad beat-down by "Mr Tim" was ridiculous. A lot of us in the media room were looking at each other and rolling our eyes.



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