--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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