Anything but a sleeper.
If University of Louisville fans were feeling the impact of the switch on the time clocks, they may have been on the same wave length with the players. Sunday a day of rest, the afternoon for a nap.
The time switch, the sabbath, and a 45-point win over Houston the day before, may have lulled the UofL women’s basketball team into snooze mode against South Florida, a team that would prove to be a very serious threat to the Cardinals’ well being.
Inga Orekhova, the South Florida recruit from the Ukraine, picked the right day to have the game of her life, hitting all three of her first three-point attempts. South Florida was off and running with a 20-10 lead over the lethargic Cardinals. Inevitably, Orekhova would calm down, cool off and run out of stamina, at least temporarily.
Louisville would score 16 of the next 20 points, including three 3-pointers by Shoni Schimmel. Jude Schimmel made a layup to give the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 26-24. Shoni’s fourth 3-pointer of the half made it 33-29 after the first 20 minutes.
Orekhova still had fight in her, as did Courtney Williams, both of them with 19 points, 38 of USF’s 56 points, the teams trading leads four times in the second half.
Fortunately for UofL, the score tied 56-56 with six seconds remaining, it was Shoni with the ball in her hands, pulling up for a jumper, zipping through the net. Jude would steal the ball, get fouled, hit two frees for a 60-56 win over the Bulls.
A close game against a good opponent may have been what the Cardinals needed as they prepare for another battle Monday with UConn at 7 p.m. in the tournament championship. Eyes wide open for this one.
Hard to imagine University of Louisville basketball without some of the players who competed for the last time at the KFC Yum! Center in Cardinal uniforms Saturday.
Four of them — Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Stephan Van Treese and Tim Henderson — playing their last home game as seniors, having compiled so many memories, so many accomplishments, the winningest class in UofL history, including two Final Fours and a national championship. Providing the leadership for a team that just may putting the pieces together for another memorable run.
Montrezl Harrell, just a sophomore but a co-captain, inevitably putting his name in the NBA draft, fitting in perfectly with his older teammates, bringing so much so quickly for a team that badly needed his enthusiasm and skill set.
Big game, emotions running rampant, with the kind of distractions that often affect individual focus and collective composure. Sometimes manifested in overpowering starts and big leads, often fizzling as the game wears on. Like when Louisville jumps out to an early 17-5 lead before a dry spell allowing UConn to cut the margin to eight with three minutes to go in the first half.
UofL’s shooting may have cooled off briefly but not its defensive effort, not allowing UConn’s Shabazz Napier or Ryan Boatright to collect a single field goal in the first half. They would wind up with only nine and six points, respectively while managing only three assists and turning the ball over nine times.
- Russ Smith, playing in front of several of his high school teammates from New York in the crowd, showing he’s much more than a shooter now, making a rare start at point guard and racking up a career high 13 assists while making four steals. Russ would, believe it or not, take only two field goal attempts, winding up with only three points in the game.
- Luke Hancock’s three-point shot has never looked better (except in the NCAA championship game). He would hit four of them in a game for the fifth time this season.
- Montrezl Harrell knows when to pounce, again looking almost unstoppable, with his 20 points — half of them from dunks — and 13 rebounds, his eighth double-double this season.
- Stephan Van Treese, who demonstrated a pretty impressive post move for the first time ever, would also pull down 13 rebounds. Keep working on that post move, Stephan, a secret weapon could come in handy the next two or three weeks.
An impressive performance 81-48 win over UConn on Senior Day, Louisville wrapping up the regular season with a 26-5 won-lost record. These players have been through a lot in the past four seasons and they’re not ready to say goodbye any time soon.
The theme song has evolved for the 2013-14 University of Louisville basketball team. The latest video, airing on Rick Pitino’s weekly coach’s show on WHAS-11, honors seniors Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Tim Henderson and Stephan Van Treese.
Russ Smith held the news media in the palm of his hand at Rick Pitino’s pre-UConn press conference Friday talking about his relationship with the coach, his time with the University of Louisville basketball team, his thoughts about the NBA and his personal motivations.
“Our relationship (with Rick Pitino) is truly special. His mean face and aggression are always on on the basketball court. But when you get to know him, he’s truly a fabulous, happy-go-lucky person. In between the lines, he’s really serious. I think we’ve done a great job of working out what we need to work out and focus on winning.
“A lot of my boys in high school are coming for senior night. They’ll tell you the way I was in high school and the way I am now. I actually apologized to them for the way I played in high school because I didn’t realize how much of a detriment I might have been to the growth of our high school team back then. I feel like I could have done a lot more things differently, even off the court. Just being able to recognize the way I played, the way I was as a teammate, the way I was as an immature person to now, I feel like I’ve made a lot of strides.
“I just want to be remembered for exactly what I’ve done here… in a class of my own for what I’ve done … If people could just say Russ was here, Russ went to a Final Four, he won a championship and a lot of other things I’ve done, I would be truly satisfied with that. I’ve been through a lot. Stuff I’ve been through a lot of things some people couldn’t go through. some would have lost their game along the way, lost their confidence. But the way I’ve kept my head up, the way I’ve always fought, nobody could have done that — not a freshman, not a sophomore, not an All-American, nobody could do that. It was on me.
“It says I’m tough and I have a mental capacity to get better at any cost. You tell me to play defense — that’s the reason I didn’t play my freshman year. You tell me to improve my efficiency, I raise my field goal percentage. You tell me I need to raise my assist to turnover ratio, I raise that, too. You tell me to need to shoot a better three ball, I’ll do that, too … Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do that. It’s just amazing that I’m shooting 47% from the field. I never would have believed I could have done that …
Pretty significant when the NCAA web singles out a program for an example of the way academic progress can be achieved.
The University of Louisville basketball team gets high praise in a post penned by NCAA staff writer Joe Menzer:
The men’s basketball team at Louisville produced a 3.47 combined grade-point average for the 2013 fall semester, the highest ever for the Cardinals and the highest of the school’s nine men’s sports programs. And this came on the heels of a 3.295 cumulative GPA for the team for the entire 2012-13 school year.
Louisville also ranks among the top-10 percent in Division I basketball in the Academic Progress Rate (APR), which measures academic eligibility, retention and graduation rates for student-athletes.
Academic advisor Anthony Wright makes it his job to align each student-athlete with a mentor who undergoes a rigorous screening process before getting the job. Those mentors then work with the student-athletes, oftentimes with tutors in individual subjects, as well, during daily two-hour study halls to make certain no student-athlete falls behind in academics.