University of Louisville point guard Jude Schimmel has become a key member for Jeff Walz this season. While her older sister Shoni often grabs the headlines, Jude's level of play during her sophomore season has risen to a level worthy of earning a few headlines herself.
The product of Franklin high school in Mission, Oregon, Schimmel is a threat to make a difference at both ends of the court, at any time. She is second on the team with 2.9 assists and 2.1 steals per game, while also scoring 5.3 points a game.
"They all have confidence in me and that's where I struggled last year - I lacked confidence," she said. "This year I am a lot more confidence in myself and that helps me play better."
While she hasn't started any games this season, Schimmel has played in every game and U of L head coach Jeff Walz likes the spark that she provides coming off the bench.
"She brings a lot of energy in when I put her in the game," said Walz. "I always know that she is going to make something happen for us."
On Tuesday night, Schimmel provided a spark that helped the Cardinals run past higher-seeded Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She tied a career-high with 8 steals and dished out 6 assists, while also contributing 7 points and 4 rebounds, with just one turnover in 25 minutes of action.
Sophomore guard Antonita Slaughter, who scored 16 points in the win over Purdue, appreciates the defensive prowess of Schimmel.
"She comes up with the biggest steals," said Slaughter. "She's everywhere and she's quick. She gets the steals when we need them most."
After a freshman year that had its share of ups and downs, Schimmel is now someone that Walz turns to when the team is need of better play on offense or defense.
"Jude understands the game," said Walz. "She is very knowledgeable about the game. She played a very solid basketball game. I know what I'm going to get every night with Jude. Her effort is there, she's going to defend for you and she's going to get the ball to the right people. When the shot clock is running down, what she does better than anybody, is she's able to penetrate and find the open man."
Walz believes, and expects, that Schimmel's best days are still ahead of her as she continues to gain more confidence.
"I just love the way she plays," he said. "She is really starting to understand time and score and that's really the part of the game that she has really grown with. If she continues to do that, she's going to have a great career here."
Louisville will face top seed Baylor on Sunday in the Sweet 16.