SUCCESS DESPITE INJURIES
The University of Louisville women’s team is off to the third-best start in school history and coach Jeff Walz is doing is despite a rash of injuries.
The Cardinals have four players who have started games in the past and likely would be major contributors on the sidelines with injuries.
Tia Gibbs and Asia Taylor haven’t played a game this season because of hip injuries, while Shawnta Dyer tore her ACL in December. Monique Reid has missed five games with a bone bruise in her knee. She is expected back perhaps as early as Sunday when the Cardinals host DePaul at the KFC Yum! Center.
”We have a long way to go, but I am really proud of our group,” Walz said. “They have handled a lot of adversity. I am just really impressed how the next person has just stepped up when we’ve needed them.
”Now we’re trying to get all to play good on the same day. I keep telling them, I don’t need them all to play great just need them all to play good.”
The Cardinals (20-5, 8-3) are fourth in the Big East Conference behind Notre Dame (23-1, 11-0), Connecticut (23-1, 10-1) and Syracuse (21-3, 9-2).
U of L had won six in a row and nine of 10 games before a loss on Monday night at No. 2 Notre Dame. DePaul beat the Cardinals 86-80 on Jan. 5.
”We have come together as a team because we had too,” junior Antonita Slaughter said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries but we have great chemistry.”
The return of Reid would be a huge boost for the Cardinals. She’s the only player still left from the 2009 NCAA runner-up team and was averaging 10.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game when she went down.
Taylor has been practicing on a limited basis for a few weeks but her status and the status of former Miss Basketball Gibbs are uncertain.
TURNOVERS ARE CUT DOWN
After struggling for much of the season with turnovers, the Cardinals have cut down on the number of miscues in recent games.
U of L had 20 or more in three of the first five games of the season but haven’t had more than 19 (Notre Dame) in nine games – a win against Providence when the Cardinals had 26 turnovers.
”We used to turn it over a lot,” Shoni Schimmel said. “For us to narrow that down is great, it helps us get more shots. I think its focus more than anything.”
”We are finally paying attention,” Walz said. “They’re to what we are telling them and that’s stop dribbling so much. All we wanted to do was dribble the ball and then force a pass and that’s not going to work.
”It’s a simple thing, quick ball reversal and less dribbling leads to easier shots. They’re finally paying attention to what they’re doing out there.”
CARDS WILL HOST NCAA TOURNAMENT
U of L will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center. And the Cardinals will be playing in that bracket.
The event will be held March 24 and 26 at the Yum! Center.
”My goal is to get 10,000 into (the Yum! Center),” Walz said. “Right now, we’re playing to get into the tournament and then playing for seeding. Each game we win puts us another notch up there for seeding.”
Tickets for the first two rounds can be purchased through the www.NCAA.com website and at the Yum! Center ticket offices. All-session tickets for adults are $32 and $18 for youth/seniors and college students.