--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Seth Spalding
In one week, the Louisville Cardinals tip off in Bowling Green. Before they do; the Cardinals will host their annual media day. The women’s basketball team hopes to give fans and media a look at what the team will do in 2018.
Already, the team is getting recognition. They were picked fifth in multiple polls. The media gave Louisville the No. 2 spot in the ACC; behind Muffet McGraw and national champion Notre Dame.
There are a few things to watch for from Jeff Walz and company.
New Senior leadership
Myisha Hines-Allen, the sole Senior last season, graduated last year. While her departure left a hole in the starting five, the Cardinals will have another leader on the court.
Louisville has four Seniors on the roster. Three returned from last year. Sam Fuehring, Arica Carter, and Asia Durr all started last year; and had a significant impact on the court. All three could be considered as team leaders on the court.
Arica Carter though, may be the one the team looks to the most. As the point guard last year, she lead the team in assists, and played second-most minutes on the team. She can pass the ball around, and ensure that it gets to the right person.
Depth at guard
Louisville is very deep at guard. The Cardinals have nine on the roster, all of which may see playing time. Four of last season’s starting five will likely start again. Carter, Durr, and Jazmine Jones will probably see the bulk of the minutes.
Dana Evans and grad-transfer Yacine Diop will be the first two ff the bench. Evans proved to be a selfless player last season, and managed to assist 134 times; which was second on the team. Her shooting percentage may also improve as she gains experience.
Then there’s Diop. Diop was Pittsburgh’s best player last year, averaging .426 from two and .316 from three; while scoring 15.7 and 6.4 rebounds. She led the team in points and boards. She’ll likely be the first shooter off the bench.
While Louisville has many guards, they lack at forward. Hines-Allen graduated last year, Loretta Kakala transferred to Pacific, and freshman Molly Lockhart will redshirt.
That leaves Bionca Dunham, Kylee Shook, and Fuehring as the three active forwards. To keep the forwards fresh, there will be some rotations that have more than three guards on the floor. Jones, while listed as a guard, can shift over to a small forward if need be. She ranked third in rebounds last year.
The team is smaller than last year. Four players are 6-feet or taller on the roster. They’re down two from 2017-18.
Louisville may rectify that by strong outside shooting. Durr, Carter, Jessica Laemmle and Shook all shot over .300 from beyond the arc.
Hines-Allen averaged 9.6 rebounds and 14 points per game last year. Filling the void won’t fall on any individual player.
In an interview with Walz airing on River City Cards Beyond the Lineup episode 2, Walz spoke about how it will be a team effort. Replacing her rebounds will come from combining multiple player stats together.
Louisville tips off on November 6th in Bowling Green, against Western Kentucky. The game will be at 7pm. They open at the KFC Yum! Center on November 26th, against Miami of Ohio.
Make sure to listen to Beyond the Lineup for a River City Cards exclusive interview with Louisville women’s basketball head coach Jeff Walz, airing Wednesday; October 31st.
--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Jared Anderson
In less than a month, the ACC-champion and defending Lexington-regional champion Louisville Cardinals will begin another campaign; and quest for a national championship. Jeff Walz and the women’s basketball team open up against Western Kentucky on November 6th.
Before the Cardinals take the court, a few questions need to be answered.
How to replace Hines-Allen
Myisha Hines-Allen was one of the best forwards in program history. She broke numerous records, and over 2,000 career points. She was also drafted 19th overall in the WNBA Draft.
Replacing the current Washington Mystic won’t be easy. But Louisville has a few options. Loretta Kakala, Bionca Dunham, and Kylee Shook are three players that could easily step into the role.
Based on last year, Shook could be in the lead for the starting role. In 13.9 minutes per game, Shook averaged 45.9 percent from the field, 38.2 from three, and had 3.6 rebounds per game. She also blocked 51 shots, which was a team lead.
Louisville welcomes a few new faces for the 2018 season. Three true freshmen join the team; Seygan Robins, Mykasa Robinson, and Molly Lockhart. Two redshirts from last year also look to have playing time- Loretta Kakala and Lindsey Duvall. Four of the five are five-star recruits. The other is a three-star.
Then, Louisville welcomes Yacine Diop; one of Pittsburgh’s best players. The Redshirt Senior guard will use her final year of eligibility with the Cardinals. The Senegalese native moved into 18th place on Pitt’s all-time scoring list last year. She led the Panthers in scoring, rebounding, and double-doubles.
Diop scored 26 points against Louisville on January 18th. She tallied over half of the points scored for Pittsburgh in the 77-51 Louisville win.
It will be interesting to see how much playing time the freshmen will get. Diop will get playing time; due to her Senior status.
How to beat last year?
Last year was one of the greatest years in Louisville history. The Cardinals finished 36-3 overall. The only losses were to Florida State, Connecticut, and Mississippi State (in the final four). Louisville won a share of the ACC regular-season title, and beat Notre Dame twice; 100-67 in the regular season, and 74-72 in the ACC Championship game. If Louisville would have defeated Mississippi State; they may have been able to beat Notre Dame a third time for the national title.
And the Cardinals bring nearly everyone back. Currently, multiple ranking sources have Louisville at No. 5. Louisville may be able to break that.
Louisville also returns Asia Durr. Durr led the team in scoring, three-point field goals, and free-throws made. The guard was nothing less than outstanding last year. The accolades stacked up for her in 2018. She was also the ACC player of the year.
With another year of experience, and a great lineup; 2019 may be Louisville’s year.
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