The opening game of the season. Packed house, with 22,124 fans. Angel McCoughtry’s jersey would be retired that night, two seasons after leading UofL to the national championship game. Things had gone downhill the previous year, multiple injuries and 14-18 won-lost record. These Cardinals needed a boost.
The night would begin a new era, not only in facilities, but because it would be Shoni Schimmel’s first ever as a Louisville Cardinal. A Native American phenom from Mission, Oregon, one of the few freshmen to ever start in her very first game at UofL.
Not a pretty start. Her first seven passes were way wide of their targets — eight turnovers in the first half, no points, no assists during those first 20 minutes. She would recover somewhat during the second half, committing only one turnover while making three assists scoring nine points (including her first three-pointer) in a 63-50 loss to Tennessee.
Over the next four seasons, she would score 2,027 points to rank second behind only McCoughtry in the program, become the all-time UofL leader with a total of 366 three-pointers, and be credited with 569 assists. She also has led her team to three NCAA appearances, including the national championship game last season.
Anything and everything, mostly good, can happen when Shoni Schimmel gets the ball. Just ask her teammates, the recipients of her no-look passes, forcing them to be ever alert. Against Memphis earlier this season, she hit eight straight three-point shots, totaling nine for the game.
Four years and 135 games later, Shoni will be appearing in her final regular season home game Monday night against top-ranked and undefeated UConn. It’s Senior Night for Shoni and three teammates — Tia Gibbs, Antonita Slaughter and Tia Gibbs — and they have reason to believe anything is possible.