Louisville CardFile: Michigan

Ebullient, with a palpable joyous relief, Louisville coach Jeff Walz answered the usual pro forma queries in the thrall of victory to the usual pro forma questions.

Happy for the team, went through hardship, never gave up, great group, etc, etc, etc.

Along the way he expressed his gratitude to Tom Jurich for the former AD’s faith when hiring the Maryland assistant coach, an intuitive and adroit move that now sees the former run of the mill program heading to it fourth Final Four, all during JW’s reign.

Wedged between the questioner and the coach was Hailey Van Lith. Displaying but a hint of exhaustion, she kept nodding as if it were still crunch time with minutes to play, the Cards down, and she being advised she needed to make a play.

HVL’s eyes burn fierce.

HVL is a perpetual motion machine. She was still redlining minutes after the buzzer, victory secured.

I’m not sure I can recall a U of L baller of either gender with more motor. Recency bias reminds me of Peyton Siva in the ’13 title game, but I’m sure there are others. Van Lith is certainly in the conversation, arguably at the top of the list.

Proving it can’t be soon enough that a woman’s image gets on the bill, HVL put up another twenty in the Dance. Double deuces in fact in the sprint away W over #3 seed Michigan to punch a proverbial ticket to the Final Four.

HVL came with the fire. So incendiary, it was still burning minutes after the game was won.

 * * * * *

All those Hoozahs to Van Lith absolutely deserved, Emily Engstler’s performance in Monday night’s 62-50 W was perhaps, all things considered, even more wondrous.

She was 1/9 from the field, went ofer on her long balls in five attempts.

But, and it’s a mighty but, EE grabbed 16 rebounds. EE dished out four assists. EE picked the Wolverine’s pockets six times. All the while committing only a single giveaway.

The charge she drew at 52-50 with Michigan surging was a turning point, even if it didn’t lead immediately to a Cardinal tally.

Emily Engstler’s was a performance of a woman in full.

 * * * * *

Chelsie Hall had a boffo opening half, ended up with 15.

Kianna Smith added 11.

 * * * * *

The ending of this victory was a clinic of we’re going to win, you are going to lose.

With 8:06 remaining, Van Lith netted a J for a 52-45 lead.

Louisville did not score for the next 5:14. At the 5:40 mark, Michigan pulled within a deuce at 52-50. Yet at the end of U of L’s above mentioned drought, an Olivia Cochran layup doubled the Cards’ advantage to 54-50.

Louisville’s in your face, woman to woman pressure D was suffocating.


That Wolverine score with just under six to play, that one, that one was the last time they scored.

The Cardinals finished on a 10 zip run.

Cochran scored a couple of other layins in that skein, both of which came as the result of marvelous ball movement and passing. On both OC was all alone under the hoop. Once on a great runout after a turnover. The other on a perfectly run Walz-called set in the half court. Engstler notched the assist on one, Mykasa Robinson on the other.

What a finale.

Thus, the Louisville Cardinals are faced with a good news/ bad news situation.

Bad News: Their next foe is this season’s perennial #1 South Carolina.

Good News: It’s in a Semi Final of the NCAA Championships.

Jeff Walz’s University of Louisville Cardinals are Final Four bound.

— c d kaplan

12 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Michigan

  1. It was just beautiful watching a coached up, coachable and win-possessed team.
    That is the way you do it. Go Cards, beat the Gamecocks!😊🏀🏀

  2. I’m still cringing from Cochran’s performance: 2 air balls that didn’t come close to the rim on shots she should have never taken, 4 fouls in 20 minutes, 3 turnovers, numerous lapses on defense, nearly tripping over her own feet, and only 4 rebounds for being as big and tall as she is. Why she gets any playing time is a mystery.

      1. I’m not in any way defending the way the Zags folded down the stretch. What does that have to do with how terrible Cochran is? The only reason she scored in the last two minutes was because she had 2 wide open layups. I thought she’d miss those.

  3. Pete, surely you jest? Who would you prefer playing the post and banging more “talented” bigs who seem to get all the calls over our poor little Oliva? Perhaps one of Jeff’s daughters?

    Without O we do not win last night. Not even close.

    1. I agree with Greg. O is not as athletic as HVL and EE but without her we never would have won

  4. Pete, what JGJ said. Really, you been eatin’ too many bad Idaho potatoes? I didn’t really mention the key charge she took late. Or, how she busted her hump down court to make the Cards’ last three FGs. Or, how she was playing with a swollen eye.

  5. Great column, CDK. In addition to great coaching and athleticism, this team seems to have the “it” factor that the 2013 men’s championship team. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Can’t wait until next weekend’s games.

  6. Thank the Lord that we have the women to help us get through March Madness ! For my money Emily Engstler is the best all-round player to ever suite up for Cards. The Gamecocks will be a tall order for the Cards, but if UK can take their measure so can we. Speaking of the Cats their fourth starter just went into the portal yesterday !

  7. Great column! You can call it swarming or scrambling but when they put the pressure on it is fun to watch, and agree with you about the motor of HVL. Engstler’s all around game is critical but she will also have to make shots if they want to win some more. I’m sure coach Walz will have a plan for SC and their stud Ms. Boston. I’m reminded of the time the Cards weren’t supposed to have a chance vs. Baylor and Griner. I recall the refs allowed us to get physical with Griner and that turned the game. Let’s see how they call ’em Friday.

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