LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We can talk here, right? Just the two of us? University of Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz has been known to pick up a bar tab now and then.
But he's never picked one up for as big a room as he'll have tonight at the KFC Yum! Center. The first round is on Walz when his U of L women play LSU in the semifinals of the Women's NIT. He's buying first 2,500 beers for adults in attendance at the Thirsty Thursday promotion, with Budweiser products selling for $2 each.
His bigger concern, however, is getting his team to the next round.
LSU is women's basketball old money. It went to five straight Final Fours in the 2000s.
U of L, of course, is the party-crasher program. Walz took the Cardinals to their second NCAA title game appearance last season, knocking off Baylor, Tennessee and Cal in the process.
But the Cards aren't likely to sneak up on anyone this season. They're ranked No. 4 in the nation, and have averaged 100.5 points in their first two regular-season games.
Seven U of L players are averaging in double-figures, led by Sara Hammond at 15.5 points per game and Jude Schimmel at 13.5.
One of the seven not in double figures is preseason All-American Schoni Schimmel, but Walz has been pleased with her play nonetheless. In a 100-81 win over Quinnipiac, Walz praised Schimmel for her overall game.
"She has grown up," Walz said. "Besides not being able to buy a bucket tonight, she gets 11 assists, four turnovers, and two of those turnovers came on one possession. She threw it got it stolen, stole it back, and then turned it over. So of the four turnovers, she had two in one possession. I was really pleased at how she continued to play and didn't let her shooting didn't affect the rest of it."
While the Cards have been scoring, Walz is not happy with his team's defense. He said he hopes his players realize the upgrade in competition they'll face against LSU. The Tigers are being led by DaShawn Harden, a 5-9 junior college transfer, at 19.5 points per game, with both Theresa Plaisance, a 6-5 senior, and sophomore guard Danielle Ballard averaging better than 15 per game.
"They're a top 15 basketball team," Walz said. "I'm expecting a basketball team to come in here that's trying to get to the finals of the WNIT. Same thing that we're trying to do. But our kids need to be prepared. They are very talented. They've got some great post players, some great guards, play extremely quick and if we're not willing to get down and contain the basketball they are going to score a bunch. They're going to defensively give us some problems because they guard well. I don't think we're going to be able to drop 100 (points) on them so we're going to have to figure it out in a hurry, that we have to guard somebody."
". . . I am more disappointed in our mental approach right now, because honestly it is like a football team that comes out here and puts points on the board like an old fashioned shootout. It is when you don't have a good defense and you put all your eggs in the offense. Right now that is what we are doing. We don't care if the other team scores or misses. We just want the ball back. We are going to run down and say hey we can make a three and you can't. Well, it is not going to work that way when we play the LSU's of the world. You just don't outscore people."
As for buying a round for the crowd, Walz said, "We're just trying to have a little bit of a good time."
Whatever happens in the game, Walz is buying. Fans with proper ID can pick up a voucher for one drink when they arrive at the game, as long as supplies last.
"It's a little way to say thanks to all our adults who come and support us," Walz said. "And we're just trying to get some of our fans who haven't come out to come out one time and get a drink and enjoy the ballgame and hopefully grab the attention of a few more. . . . Make sure you have a designated driver if you want to come and have a few of them."
Tickets for the game have been discounted from $10 to $6. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
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