Shoni Schimmel not much of a factor for New York Liberty

Shoni Schimmel’s career in the Women’s National Association may be coming to an end … and it won’t be a happy ending for all the people who looked up to her.

Shoni Schimmel.
Shoni Schimmel.

Considered a role model when she played for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team, Shoni and her sister Jude attracted hundreds of Native Americans at home and road games. They celebrated when Shoni was picked by the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA draft in 2014.

Shoni would get off to a good start in the WNBA, averaging 8.3 points and more than 21 minutes of playing time per game. She was voted to the NBA All-Star team in her first season, going on to earn Most Valuable Player honors while leading the East to a 125-124 overtime win over the West.

Instead of going overseas to play basketball, Shoni elected to go home to the reservation after the season. She returned the next season to Atlanta needing to play herself into shape, starting slowly but finishing the season averaging 7.6 points per game.

Atlanta wasn’t happy with Shoni’s lack of commitment during the off-season, trading her this year to the New York Liberty. Schimmel again was out of shape, needing to recover from her time off on the reservation.

New York Liberty is 17-7 and leading the WNBA’s Eastern Conference. Shoni has not been a factor, however, averaging less than five minutes of playing time in 16 of the team’s 24 games.

Schimmel scored six points on a couple of 3-pointers in an 88-70 loss to the Minnesota Lynx six games ago but has not scored since. She was scoreless in three games and didn’t see the floor in the two other games.

Disappointing that Shoni loses her motivation between seasons, failing to stay in shape. That’s unfortunate for her — and all the young Native American girls who looked up to her.

Dallas Wings cut Jude Schimmel from WNBA squad

Jude Schimmel’s many fans from the University of Louisville knew it was a long shot, but that doesn’t lessen the pain.

On Monday, the Dallas Wings announced that Jude has been released from the team, along with teammate and fellow rookie Tori Jarosz (from Marist College).

Schimmel made her professional debut last week with the Wings in a 108-90 exhibition loss to the Indiana Fever. Pursuing her vision of a career in the Women’s National Basketball Association.

She played 25 minutes, scored five points, made five assists and five steals in that game. Not bad for a first game in the WNBA. Impressive by any standard.

Jude Schimmel
Jude Schimmel

On Sunday, she played 14 minutes, scoring six points, making one assist, and three turnovers in an 82-74 exhibition loss to the Connecticut Sun.

The next day she was gone.

Schimmel remained upbeat Monday evening, tweeting, “Just want to thank @DWingsHoops for the opportunity to be apart of training camp & preseason! Despite the outcome, still an amazing experience.”

Jude’s team was scheduled to meet up with the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden. A chance for her to play on the same floor with her sister Shoni Schimmel again. She came close to seeing that happen.

“Thank you to everyone for the love & support! I know my time will come,” she said in a second tweet.

Jeff Walz: Great expectations for Louisville women’s basketball

Jeff Walz is engulfed by media prior to UofL women's basketball tipoff luncheon.
Jeff Walz is engulfed by media prior to the UofL women’s basketball tipoff luncheon at the Downtown Marriott.

A crowd of more than 650 people showed up for the 2015 tip-off luncheon for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team Wednesday at the Downtown Marriott. Quite a contrast from a few years ago when the event was drawing maybe 300 fans.

Coach Jeff Walz, entering his ninth season at UofL, acknowledging the growing support, along with the sense of anticipation for the upcoming season.  “It’s all about expectations,” he told the media before lunch. “When I first got here we were talking about getting past the second round in the NCAA,” he said. “Now we’re talking about Final Fours and winning championships. I’m really proud of where this program is now but we’re not satisfied.”

During his first eight seasons, Walz has a 208-77 won-lost record. His teams have been to the Sweet 16 six times and have finished as national runner-up twice while turning out five WNBA draft picks, including Angel McCoughtry and Shoni Schimmel.

Walz said recruiting success has made it possible to raise expectations. “In order to have expectations, you have to have great players. You can coach as much as you want, but if you don’t have players who can perform it really doesn’t matter.”

His 2015 recruiting class includes five players ranked among the top 50 in the country, including Asia Durr, considered among the best in the class. It also includes 6-foot-3 Samantha Fuering, 6-foot-4 Erin DeGrate, Taja Cole and Brianna Jones.

Another addition is Briahanna Jackson, an outstanding transfer guard from Central Florida University, who was introduced publicly for the first time during the luncheon. She’s good enough to possibly nail down a starting spot.

“We have a wonderful group of young women,” he said during the luncheon. “This has been one of the most enjoyable pre-seasons that I have had.  They work hard, they have a great sense of humor and they care about each other. You’re going to be excited about this group.”

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Walz also took a moment to express his appreciation to Tom Jurich for hiring him. “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Tom Jurich giving me this opportunity nine years ago,” he said.

Alluding to his one-time stuttering challenge, Walz said “it took some courage for Tom to hire me. This (making public speeches) was something I didn’t do very well, speaking in front of people, speaking to the media. It’s part of the job. You have to go out there and sell your product and sell your university.

“I’m grateful to Tom for giving the opportunity. It’s hard to believe I’m going on year nine. I plan on being here for many more years.”

Shoni Schimmel working her way back

University of Louisville women’s basketball fans waited patiently for Shoni Schimmel, of the Atlanta Dream, to be sent into a televised WNBA game against the Tulsa Shock on Tuesday, believing Shoni could provide an offensive boost. She never got on the floor, however, in an 85-75 home floor loss.

Shoni, they figured, would be just what the Dream needed on a night when former UofL great Angel McCoughtry was scoring 25 points. Wasn’t going to happen.Shoni-Schimmel-UofLCardGame

Schimmel sat in the same spot on the bench all night, never removing her light blue warmup jersey. No way Coach Michael Cooper was going to insert her in the game, win or lose. The Dream never had the lead, losing its seventh game in 12 starts, and in last place in the Eastern Division.

She’s apparently out of shape, unable to contribute effectively after taking the off season away from basketball. Well almost. Shoni did help her mother coach their high school basketball team.

“The bottom line is she understands the magnitude of being a professional basketball player, a professional athlete now,” Cooper told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s about keeping your body in tip-top shape all year around to where when you come to training camp, training camp shouldn’t be a time for you to get in shape, training camp is a time to take the shape you’re in and take it to another level with your teammates.”

Schimmel has played in 10 games, starting in two of them, while averaging only 15.1 minutes per game. She’s managing only 4.4 points and 2.4 points assists per game.

“I’m not too worried about it, and I don’t think Coop is either,” said Schimmel. “We have an understanding there.”

Schimmel expects to return to top shape in about three weeks.

Jude Schimmel will leave her own mark on Louisville women’s basketball

Jude Schimmel will be on her own this season, with big sister Shoni moving up to the Women’s National Basketball Association.  Expect Jude to leave an indelible mark on University of Louisville women’s basketball because she’s a serious competitor.

Jude brings passion to the floor, overcoming her petite 5-foot-6 frame with smarts and speed. She’s a crowd favorite and is inevitably welcomed by a rendition of “Hey Jude”  by the UofL Pep Band when she checks in at the scorer’s table. She also brings a sense of humor, with a quick smile on and off the court, and draws swarms of autograph seekers after games.

No doubt she will miss having Shoni around, they are so close. Jude actually skipped the eighth grade so she they could play together on the varsity team. Concerns about academics were minimal and she went to to compete high school with an 3.8 grade average.

She has already earned her undergraduate degree in sociology at UofL this past summer, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in sports administration.

Jude played in 33 games as a junior last season while averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 assists per game and was credited with a second best total of 54 steals.

Hopefully Jude sticks around Louisville for a while after her collegiate playing career is done.