Louisville women's basketball: Notebook

Sara Hammond

The University of Louisville women's basketball team will open play in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday in the KFC Yum Center. U of L coach Jeff Walz and his team earned a No. 5 seed and will meet Middle Tennessee. Here are a few notes heading into the weekend for the U of L women's program.

MAJOR VISITOR EXPECTED

The University of Louisville women's basketball staff is expected to be hosting a major Class of 2014 visitor this weekend during the NCAA Tournament.

Manassas, Va., Paul IV wing Ariana Freeman recently decommitted from West Virginia and is expected to be at the Yum Center on Sunday, according to a story in the Washington Post on Thursday.

The 5-foot-11 Freeman is ranked as the No. 8 wing in the Class of 2014, according to ESPN.com, and is ranked No. 35 overall.

Freeman is also interested in Tennessee, Penn State and Syracuse.

As a junior, Freeman averaged 18.8 points and helped Paul IV to the school's seventh consecutive state independent school title.

GIBBS GETS THROUGH ‘TOUGH' SEASON

It's been another tough season for Tia Gibbs.

The former Kentucky Miss Basketball from Butler High School has missed all but one game during the past two seasons because of injuries.

Gibbs re-injured her shoulder in the first game last season and had surgery. She then rehabbed the shoulder but then had surgery in May to repair a torn labrum in her hip. She's been hampered by that injury all season.

"It's been really tough," Gibbs said. "My role changed from being a player to being a cheerleader. I'm the veteran and the team motivator as the older player.

"I just try and motivate the team. I'll text them when they have a bad practices or just try and help do the little things."

A former transfer from Vanderbilt, Gibbs started all 35 games during the 2010-11 season for the Cardinals. She said she's running 25 minutes a day and is hoping to be back on the court this summer.

"I'm just trying to stay positive and my teammates have helped me," she said. "I'm doing very well. I could have tried (to play) but then I strained my hip and I decided I would rather play an entire year.

"I hope (the NCAA) gives me six years to play four."

Gibbs will have to apply for a waiver from the NCAA.

HAMMOND MORE CONSISTENT NOW

Sophomore Sara Hammond said the University of Louisville coaching staff kept on her all season about being more aggressive and consistent.

Hammond put it all together at the Big East Tournament.

The former Kentucky Miss Basketball played some of her best basketball with 22 points and 11 rebounds against St. John's and another solid effort in the semifinal loss to No. 2 Notre Dame in Hartford, Conn.

"The coaches have challenged me," Hammond said. "I had some good game but then I had some games when I didn't do what I needed to do.

"I just have to be aggressive and do what the coaches want me to do."

Hammond is averaging 10.7 points – second on the team – and leads the Cardinals with 6.6 rebounds a game.

REID WILL PLAY IN NCAA TOURNAMENT

Senior Monique Reid has been injured much of the season.

Reid, who has a knee injury, has played 24 games but is just averaging 17.6 minutes a game. She played in one Big East game but didn't play the next day.

The 6-foot-1 Reid averages 9.5 points and 4.2 rebounds a game.

"Monique will play," U of L coach Jeff Walz said. "But we don't know how much we're going to have her. It depends on how her knee holds up."

SCHIMMEL EARNS REGIONAL HONOR

U of L's leading scorer – junior guard Shoni Schimmel – was named an All-Region One nominee for the WBCA's Division I Coaches' All-America team.

Schimmel was one of 52 candidates from the eight regions for the All-America team, which will be announced on April 6 in New Orleans.

Schimmel was named a first-team All-Big East selection for the second straight year and averages 13.8 points and 3.7 assists a game.

HAMMOND KNOWS THIS FOE

U of L sophomore Sara Hammond knows all about Middle Tennessee's leading scorer and rebounder Ebony Rowe.

The two played on the same AAU team for one offseason.

"She's a heck of a player," Hammond said. "We played on the same AAU team for a year and she's really good."

The 6-foot-1 Rowe leads the Blue Raiders with 19.9 points and 11.1 rebounds a game this season.

TICKETS AVAILABLE

Tickets for the NCAA this weekend are available.

Tickets for both sessions (Sunday and Tuesday) – three games - are $32 for adults and $18 for youths, seniors and college students.

Tickets are at Tickemaster locations and the KFC Yum Center.

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