CRAWFORD | Walz introduces new deck of Cards to record crowd at - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Walz introduces new deck of Cards to record crowd at Tipoff Luncheon

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz looked into the Grand Ballroom at the Galt House downtown on Tuesday morning and shook his head.

More than 700 fans attended the annual Women's Basketball Tipoff Luncheon.

"It's the biggest crowd that we've had here in the eight years now that I've been here," Walz said. "It grows each year and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of support that we continue to have for women's basketball. I've got some friends I've talked to this week about our tipoff luncheon and I tell them how many people we have signed up for that, and it's what they get for their games. So I don't take it for granted, I'm very appreciative, and so excited to be a part of this community here."

Walz introduced a team that for the first time in four years doesn't include the high-profile personality of guard Shoni Schimmel, who was the MVP of the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game.

Her absence leaves a void in almost every area, but especially three-point shooting. Her sister, Jude Schimmel, already has reached a season quota for answering the question, "How does it feel to play without Shoni?"

"Believe it or not I've gotten this question a lot?" Jude said. "I just say, it's basically a repeat of my senior year of high school. But I'm looking forward to it, because it's an opportunity for me to grow as an individual. And even though I'm missing that sister, I feel like the chemistry we've got on this team, I've gotten so close to a lot of my teammates, so it's just like having 12 other sisters. I'm just looking forward to the year."

Shoni Schimmel isn't the only three-point shooter the Cards will be looking to replace. Between Schimmel, Tia Gibbs and Antonita Slaughter, Walz loses 221 of the 251 threes the team made last season.

What he has back, however, is size. Shawnta' Dyer and Sherrone Vails return from injury. Emmonnie Henderson has worked herself into a more effective playing weight and Cortnee Walton is improved. And Walz has experience returning in the backcourt with Bria Smith to go along with freshmen guard Arica Carter and Mariya Moore.

"We are a completely different ball club from last year's team," Walz said. "But we do have some very talented players. It's just a matter of figuring out what way we need to play to maximize our potential. . . . We'll find out more as the year progresses and practice progresses. We did lose some very talented three-point shooters, but at the same time, now we've added some post depth when you get get Shawnta' back and Sherrone Vails. So that might change a little bit of how we play, but I like the potential this team has shown."

Walz said he's not sure exactly what that will mean for the team's playing style. He said losing Schimmel's ability to free-lance and score on offense means "we're going to have to be a lot more disciplined."

"There's going to be a lot of opportunity for all our players," Walz said. "Who wants to be our scorer? Who wants to be our rebounder? A lot of areas that we're right now trying to find out who is going to step up and fill those roles. . . . I love going out recruiting and talking to parents. A big question I always get is, 'What's your style of play?' And how I like respond is, 'We don't have a style of play, we like to win.' If we've got to play zone, we'll play zone. If we have to play man, we'll play man. If we have to play four players on the court -- which some of you saw last year -- we'll play four. We do what we do, and we'll make sure we do it well."

Walz and the Cardinals open their regular season at IUPUI on Nov. 14, and open their home schedule in the KFC Yum! Center two  days later against Tennessee-Martin at 2 p.m.

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