Gameday for WBB
The Cards face a pretty quick turnaround from Friday's game against DePaul. This is a quick shift from a top 20 opponent to a mid-major that has never beaten the Cards. The series with UT Martin stands at 9-0, with the last win coming just last year, in Tennessee.
The Cards are going to be an odds-on favorite in this one, but this is the type of game that gives some people pause. Coming off of a hyped, and unquestionably fun, game on Friday, with such a short turn-around limiting the amount of time the team can spend on preparing for a specific opponent, is a common recipe for, well, at least having more challenges with a team than one would otherwise expect.
Add into the recipe, that this is the season opener for the Skyhawks, so the Cards have no current game film to look at, and it makes the short preparation time that much more difficult. The Skyhawks, on the other hand, have three games worth of game film to look at from UofL. Oh, and let's not forget, Seygan Robins, who, I think you could say, is pretty familiar with Jeff Walz's coaching and playing style having transfers to UT Martin from UofL after last season. And the last ingredient to the recipe, this was a pretty recently scheduled game, as part of the shifting sands of college basketball scheduling thanks to Covid.
The only preparation benefit that the Cards have is that the Skyhawks had no seniors on their squad last year, so the squad is largely unchanged. So let's look at some stats leaders from last year, to give us a bit of an idea of what to expect today.
The points leader is Chelsey Perry, a 6'2" forward from Middleton, TN. She more than doubled the point production of anyone else on the team, helped by .385 shooting from beyond the arc. The next producer is Maddie Waldrop, also a 6'2" senior forward. Waldrop, from Murray, also scores well from range, at a .317 clip. The most efficient shooter from range is Perry, with Dasia Young placing 2nd in that category, shooting .350, but she only took a little over one long range attempt per game last year.
The leaders on the boards are also Perry and Waldrop. The 3rd place listing for that stat is "TEAM", which is...unhelpful. When it comes to ball security, here we see Perry again at the top of the list for steals, but also watch out for the 5'7" Almost-Attack-Yorkie Kyannah Grant out of Choctaw Mississippi. No word on if she knew Billie Joe MacAllister from the famous song.
(OK, map geek digression: Choctaw is actually not particularly close to Choctaw Ridge in MS, about 70 miles, though it's roughly as close as the Tallahatchee River is, about 75 miles, so I guess they could still be related as part of the fictional events in the song Ode to Billie Joe. Amusingly, to get from Choctaw, to Choctaw Ridge, you would drive from near Philadelphia through Louisville, though I believe they pronounce the "s" in their city name. Yes, these are all places in Mississippi.)
As we discussed on The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast yesterday, our consensus is that UT Martin will try to slow the pace of this game down. DePaul plays a high pace, track race style of play, and it played right into the hands of this Cardinals team, resulting in a record high scoring outing. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see an attempt at playing some zone defense with the hope that a good 2-3 zone would force the Cards to try to make some 3pt attempts. We know there are some good shooters on this UofL squad, but the game statistics thus far suggest it might be a strategy that could help. I say "might" because the 3pt percentage shooting for the Cards in the EKU and DePaul games weren't bad. It's only when you include the SEMO game, and it's .118 that the number drops to a concerning result.
Overall, I would look for a solid UofL win, here. Beware of the post-big-game letdown, but UT Martin comes in as a mid-major without a huge expectation of pulling off a win, here. This is a game for them to get experience and learn, and in the schedule chaos generator that is Covid, let's just enjoy getting the opportunity for these teams to be healthy and take the floor.
Tune into the ACC Network at noon eastern for this one, or as always, you can hear the great coverage from Nick Curran on 790am in Louisville (just don't pronounce that "s").
A Fantastic Addition
Cardinal Couple is growing! Daryl Foust is joining the regular rotation of writers here at Cardinal Couple. You may remember Daryl from her frequent appearances on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour while we were still being hosted by WCHQ, and she has agreed to join the writer's ranks here at CC. I believe the plan is that she will be writing the Friday articles, so look forward to that.
We're also working on getting everything set up for her to join us for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast, so look forward to hopefully hearing her there as well.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
Speaking of the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast, we did have what we have called a full house, on the radio show with Case, Jared, Paulie, and myself all present for this. With the addition of Daryl, I guess we can say we're adding on an extension?
A full hour+ of women's basketball discussion for this episode. We went in depth about the DePaul game, as you might expect, but also recapped the EKU game that happened this week, with a bit of a look ahead to today's UT Martin game. The discussion was fun, I hope you have fun listening as well.