Schimmel expects more in final run

Schoni Schimmel

The University of Louisville women's basketball team, will honor four seniors on Monday night at 7 p.m. against Connecticut. Schoni Schimmel, a recent addition to the 2,000 point club, sat down with Cardinal Authority to discuss her impressive career.

Ranked as one of the nation's top ten prospects as a senior at Franklin (Ore.) High School, Schoni Schimmel has met and exceeded all expectations that came with her arrival at the University of Louisville in 2010. The only expectations remaining are those that she and the team have set for themselves.

Four years after she committed to Louisville over Oregon, Rutgers, South Carolina and UCLA, Schimmel has cemented herself as one of the best to ever suit up for the Cardinals. She was a key figure in Louisville's run to the NCAA title game last season and she recently became just the second player in school history to score 2,000 career points along with former standout Angel McCoughtry.

"It's very special to be named with someone like Angel McCoughtry because she's a great basketball player, but at the end of the day it is just basketball and I'm just doing that and having fun doing it."

A Native American, Schimmel has received significant support from that community, with hundreds and even thousands driving to watch the Cardinals play at nearly every spot throughout the regular season.

"It's amazing to have people drive nine hours just to watch us play basketball," she said. "It's very special to have lines of people wanting your autograph after a game, or to just to take a picture of you. It's pretty awesome."

Schimmel has also had the experience of playing with her younger sister Jude the past two seasons, an opportunity that the two cherish.

"We've played together since I was six and she was four," Schimmel explained. "We've enjoyed it the whole way and for us to be playing Division I basketball together is very special. She knows me like the back of her hand. I always call her my right hand man because of how well we know each other on and off the court."

Schimmel started all 35 games her first year at U of L and after helping guide the team to a Sweet 16 appearance was named a Freshman All-American. An All-Conference selection every year, Schimmel enters the final stretch of her collegiate career as a semi-finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year award.

Her behind-the-back layup over the reigning National Player of Year Brittney Griner in Louisville's upset over top-seeded Baylor during last season's run to the title game immediately lifted Jeff Walz's program into the next realm of college hoops.

"That whole game was amazing," she said. "We beat all the odds and to do that was very special for us."

Last season's run has also left her with a feeling of unfinished business.

"It's been great to go through this process with these coaches and teammates," Schimmel told Cardinal Authority. "As a freshman I came in and go to the Sweet 16 and we kept building and getting closer and closer. It's been awesome to go through this experience the past four years and we aren't done yet. We still have some things we want to get done."

A possible sellout crowd of 22,000 will be on hand at the KFC Yum! Center on Monday night when Schimmel, along with Tia Gibbs, Antonita Slaughter and Asia Taylor, will be honored prior to one of the most important games of her career. The top-ranked Connecticut Huskies, who defeated the Cardinals in last season's NCAA Championship game, will close out the regular season with the AAC regular season crown on the line.

Monday nights contest is the first game of what Schimmel and her teammates anticipate as the precursor for another magical post season journey.

The KFC Yum! Center will host Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in a few weeks and the Final Four will be held in nearby Nashville, Tenn., a destination that Schimmel expects to reach.

"I expect us to go that far," she said. "We don't want to expect anything less. We work hard in practice with that attitude and try to bring it over in the games. I think we are reaching our peak at the right time because it's almost time for tournament."

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