Louisville Card File: Maryland

dunikcardThere was something, though disappointing, almost symmetrical and poetic about season’s end for star Shoni Schimmel and Jeff Walz’s Louisville Cardinals.

In Shoni Schimmel’s first game as a Cardinal, the first U of L hoops contest in the Yum! against Tennessee, she displayed her incredible talent, her panache on the hardwood. And her immaturity. Lots of long passes, general out of control play.

In Shoni Schimmel’s last game as a Cardinal, she displayed her still incredible talent, her Maravichian sorcery on the court, and the extent of her maturity on the court. Though she remains more prone to the spectacular than I trust her coach would desire.

But, oh, would that her last deftly designed three gone down.

Sigh. It didn’t. She smiled. She teared up. She left her mark.

If Angel McCoughtry is the Wes Unseld of the distaff side for U of L basketball, Schimmel is the Butch Beard, an affirmation that Louisville shall be a playah on the women’s hoops scene for awhile.

* * * * *

Most observers point to the fact that the Cards were down 12, 54-66, with 2:03 on the clock.

More salient, they were still down 10, 60-70, with :56 to play.

Which is when Ms. Shoni went to work. And, almost miraculously, pulled off the comeback.

At that juncture, she was 2/8 from long range. Then, with thirty ticks left, she nailed a trey from the right corner to cut the lead to 5. Another off the dribble and, frankly, out of sync, at :18, cut the lead back to five.1

At :05, Schimmel drained another improbable trey. That three cut the lead to a deuce.

Her last threeball at the buzzer coulda, woulda, shoulda . . . but didn’t drop.

Season.

* * * * *

It is reported that Cardinal coach Jeff Walz and his former tutor, Maryland coach Brenda Frese, do not have the most cordial of relationships these days. It happens.

Frese is a really good coach.

But Walz, he could be the next in a line that started with Pat Summitt and moved to Geno Auriemma.

Inexplicably, with a three point lead after Alyssa Thomas sank only the second of a double bonus, and only :03 on the clock and U of L out of timeouts, Frese called her last timeout.

Which mistake gave Jeff Walz a chance to draw up a last second play.

Which play was simply one of the craftiest I’ve ever seen. 2 The Terps were totally outfoxed. Sara Hammond made a stunning half court pass from out of bounds. The ball got in Shoni’s hands while she was in shooting position and within her very long range.

It . . . Just . . . Didn’t . . . Drop.

* * * * *

In those critical last two minutes, the winners hit 12/14 FTs. Clutch.

They sealed the deal. That Maryland was stalwart at the line all night was a critical component of their W.

While it is easy to complain about the disparity in the number of FT attempts, I feel compelled to note that the foul difference was only four, 17 on the Terps, 21 on the Cards.

The officiating, as is way too often the case these days, was woefully inconsistent.

* * * * *

There were two key sequences in the game.

Down 17-22 after the second to last media timeout before halftime, the Cards stole the ball on four straight Maryland possessions. But they only converted on the first two, but a Nita Slaughter three after a Terp miss gave U of L a 24-22 lead.

But the killer was the 20-4 Maryland run that ensued when U of L jumped out by 7 just after halftime, 41-34. Louisville could never fully recover from the nine point hole midway through the final half, going almost 8 minutes without a FG.

* * * * *

The future remains bright for the U of L women under Jeff Walz, despite the loss of some serious senior talent.

A couple of McD’s All-Americans are coming in.

Truth: For the next step, the Cards need to harvest some height. At which juncture, they’ll stop coming up short.

* * * * *

33-5.

Hold your heads up high, ladies.

— Seedy K

2 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Maryland

  1. Thanks for a great season’s performance of Card’s coverage. You enriched what I saw and how I saw it.

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