CRAWFORD | Louisville women experience past and present in build - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisville women experience past and present in buildup for NCAA game vs. Baylor

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WDRB photo by Mike Lacett. WDRB photo by Mike Lacett.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- At some point, Jeff Walz had to accept it. With his University of Louisville women’s basketball team facing Baylor tonight in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16, he knew he was in for a slew of questions about The Game.

The game was in 2013. It probably was the greatest upset in the history of women’s college basketball. It has to be the clubhouse leader for biggest upset in U of L sports history.

Walz’s Cardinals beat Brittney Griner and top-ranked Baylor on their way to an improbable NCAA championship run. They made 16 three-pointers in the game, a tournament record, and Shoni Schimmel had an iconic moment, when she made a driving shot over Griner, then stared her down.

Or at least as far down as you can someone who is almost a foot taller.

It was good times for the Cardinals, heartbreak for the Bears, and thanks to the NCAA Tournament, everybody has gotten to relive it this week, even though it has little bearing on what will happen when the teams meet tonight at 9 p.m. in Oklahoma City.

“We scored one more point,” Walz said Thursday when asked about the game. “You know, it's what it all comes down to. And I said it, you know, four years ago: You have to be able to score against Baylor. Everybody talked about, what this great job we did defensively and all this. I think we gave up 81 points in that game, and they averaged 81 points. So the way I look at it, and I said it four years ago: Our defense was average, but we scored the most points anybody has ever scored against them during the Brittney Griner era. So you have to figure out a way to put points on the board and that's the same way with this ballclub right now. They have so much size inside. Their guards are very good.”

Don’t expect Walz to reprise his game plan from four years ago. The teams and personnel are different, though some of the philosophies remain the same.

“Our goal four years ago was to take 40 threes,” Walz said. “We are not going to look to do that right now. We have a very strong inside game, mid-range game. Myisha Hines-Allen, Kylee Shook, Ciera Johnson; we have some kids that can score on the low block, where four years ago, that really wasn't our strength. You know, when you've got Antonita Slaughter, Shoni Schimmel, Jude Schimmel, we had kids that could shoot the ball from the outside; Sara Hammond, that could do it very well. So we went with what our strength was at that point in time. Now, will we look to shoot it (tonight)? Of course. But I wouldn't anticipate us to take 30 to 35 threes; but we might.”

The Cardinals are 12 ½-point underdogs to Baylor. They’re getting outstanding guard play from Asia Durr and Mariya Moore is coming off a game in which she went 5-for-5 from three-point range. Myisha Hines-Allen has been outstanding in the post and from mid-range.

The challenge, again, will be to stop Baylor’s powerful post game.

“You know, we beat a Tennessee team on Monday night that very possibly could have two of the Top-10 draft picks if the kids come out early on it; a team that beat two No. 1 seeds, two No. 2 seeds. I mean, a really good basketball team,” Walz said. “We know that. And now we know we have a (Baylor) ballclub that we have to play that has unbelievable talent, unbelievable depth. They are well coached and we are going to have to figure out a way to come out here for 40 minutes and execute it and believe in what we're doing, and also be able to withstand some runs. There's no doubt. I mean, this is a (Baylor) team that can put up some points in a hurry. You can't be sloppy with the basketball. We've talked to our players about that.”

The key ingredient that his team in 2013 shared with his prior team that went to the NCAA title game, Walz said, was a belief that it could win at that level. He said his current group is beginning to develop that belief. He just doesn’t know if it’s ready to fully buy into it.

“We have a group of kids right now that believe in what we're doing, which is something that we've talked to them about, you know, this past month, this past two months,” Walz said. “The teams that we've had here that have had great success, would buy into whatever we told them as a coaching staff. You know that, team in '13, we truly believed that we could beat Baylor, and the kids came into that game with the belief and confidence. Now, no one else out there thought we could.  Then in 2009, everybody was like, who's this? And it's a group of kids that I remember. . . . But the players having to out and execute; it's our job (as coaches) to get them to believe in what we're doing. And that's something that the teams that we've had here in the past that have had great success, they believed in it and then went out and did everything they could to execute it. That's one thing right now, I think we are in a good place. They are excited.”

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