WILL WALZ'S "SOLID 10" SEE A FINAL FOUR AGAIN?
Some of my inspiration for articles comes from questions I get asked about various programs at UofL. First of all, it's flattering that people think I know enough about the various programs to give them good answers. Or, sometimes...if I can't dazzle those who seek information with brilliance, I resort to baffling question-askers with bullshit. It worked for W.C.Fields...and It can get interesting.
I was recently asked what I thought the 2023-24 Louisville women's basketball squad might look like. We are fresh off the Canadian appearance, so we saw some early glimpses of what the Cards WBB might have in store for the ACC foes...and the fans.
We do know (as of 8/1/23) that there will be 10 players dressing out for games and one probable redshirt (in Eseosa Imafidon). The way I see it, is six guards and four inside players..Knowing Walz he may just try to find a way to sneak Kasa Robinson into a game...she's a graduate assistant on the squad this year
(Season with Curry)
Jayda Curry will probably land the point guard role. The 5'6" Cal transfer was a good guard on a not-so-great Cal Bears squad, and comes along at just the right time. She's heads-up, a scorer (15,5 points a game last year) and she looked pretty efficient in Toronto earlier this summer.
At the "shooting guard" or "2" spot, the competition looks to be between Syd "Swish" Taylor and Nina Rickards. Taylor thrilled us all with her output in Canada and she was in double figures her final three years at UMass. She's 5'9" and to those that were clamoring for taller guards this year, after Van Lith and Chrislyn Carr last year...sorry about that...chief. Rickards averaged 8 points a game at Florida last year and is a strong rebounder.
The "3" or "wing" or :guard forward is the most intriguing aspect on the roster. You've got Merissah Russel, Eylia Love and Kiki Jefferson as contenders there. Russell and Love know the Cards plays and experienced last year on the roster...Jefferson averaged over18 points a game at JMU and almost eight rebounds night I would expect all three would see time on the court, and the thing is with six guards, you've got backups for the starting three, if foul trouble arises. In a 40 minute game, that's 120 minutes avalable at the guard slots. Walz could even go 20 minutes each for each one of the six...and totally throw opponents off kilter.
Inside, I'm seeing Nyla Harris and Olivia Cochran returning to their starting roles, with Alexia Mobley and Hennie van Schaik as backups. Harris and Cochran were fearless rebounders for UofL last year and Mobley can jump out of the gym if she's fully healed. And, van Schail averaged almost a double-double last year in points/rebounds at Cal State Bakersfield...and that's a pretty decent backup to have.
I would imagine Walz is going to have this team run, run, run and play a withering, pressured-packed defense to force turnovers. They did that quite well in Canada, with very little practice and I'm really excited to see how these ten look when the Cards go into conference play.
The one major difference I think we'll see, also, is a cessation of everyone standing around waiting for "a certain player" to create or do something. That philosophy got Louisville 12 losses last year and a 4th place finish in the ACC I think the playbook will alter a lot from some of the things we saw happen last year.
OF COURSE, this is all just speculation from me. Jeff Walz is one of the most brilliant minds in women's college basketball and he sees them every day in practice, knows the combinations that go together well and the opponents ahead.
Since 2009, the Cards WBB squad has made the Final Four every four or five years, so -- if trends are the order of the day, it'll be 2026 or 2027 before the Cards return to the Final Four.. Phoenix (2026) or Columbus (2027). And, the Final Four returns to Indianapolis in 2028.
It should be entertaining...this upcoming season for Louisville women's basketball. And it always is...and we'll have fun covering it...