LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The U of L Women's basketball program has come a long way in eight-plus years under head coach Jeff Walz. From not having a tip-off luncheon to having almost 800 fans at the Downtown Marriott for the latest installment Wednesday. From never going beyond the second round of the NCAA tournament to making six sweet sixteen appearances and twice being national runner-up.
"I can remember coming for my interview and Angel McCoughtry and Patrika Barlow were like 'what can you do to get us past the second round?'," said Walz. "You know they were trying to get to a sweet sixteen and now we're talking about Final Fours and winning Championships. So I'm really proud of where this program has come."
Expectations will continue to be high despite this year's group having to replace five key seniors off last year's sweet sixteen team and having just one player on the roster above the Sophomore class. Walz welcomes a five-woman recruiting class ranked number one in the country.
"We are fortunate to return our two leading scorers, Myisha (Hines-Allen) and Mariya (Moore) but we do have five very talented Freshman that are pushing our returning players and are going to have to come in and play," said Walz. "We have 11-12 players right now on our roster so those five Freshman are going to have to grow up real quick and be able to adjust to the college game."
And the newcomers have been helped through the growing process by those that recently went through it.
"I've been really impressed with our returners," said Walz. "Myisha Hines-Allen, Mariya Moore and Courtney Walton have all done an unbelievable job of helping our Freshman, getting them to understand there are going to be difficult days. It's not always a great time out there. You're going to struggle and then it's a matter of trying to teach them how to get past these tough times and turn the corner and get things going well again for you."
The team is just six days into practice and Walz said he's trying to rid the new players of some old high school habits. He also said the headliner of the group, Asia Durr is at about 65 percent or so after having surgery for a groin injury suffered in the spring. The coach expects her back near full strength when the Cardinals start the season in a month. The opener is November 15th against California at the KFC Yum! Center.
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