BOZICH | Unbeaten Louisville creates new identity without Hines-Allen
By Rick Bozich
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Asia Durr will get her points. Drives. Steals. Threes. The works.
The University of Louisville women’s basketball team has rolled to victories in its first seven games. Durr has scored at least 14 every night, including the 25 she delivered against Nebraska as the Cardinals defeated the Cornhuskers, 85-68, Thursday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at the KFC Yum! Center.
Beware: Durr also had a career high 8 assists.
Sam Fuehring has been solid as a second threat, adding a couple of points to her scoring average from last season, giving Jeff Walz more than 11 points per game.
Arica Carter handles the basketball. Jazmine Jones does all the hustle things.
But what’s the answer to the primary question thrown at Walz before this season:
Are the Cardinals going to be able to replace the necessary items that Myisha Hines-Allen provided before she took her 14 points, nearly 10 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game to the WNBA?
It’s early, but I believe the Cardinals will be fine.
Mark it down as the third consecutive game Louisville has scored at least 85 — and Walz is a coach who will figure out the defensive issues when he has to do it.
“Offensively, I’m really pleased, Walz said. “Without Yacine (Diop, the Cards’ injured transfer from Pittsburgh) we knew was going to be a big help for us offensively and defensively. Now, with her out, we’ve got some adjustments to make.
“We have to stop fouling. We’ve been fouling too much. We’re going to foul some, I’ve got no problem with that. It’s just the silly fouls that we can’t afford.
“We sent them to the free-throw line 24 times. That’s not going to win you a bunch of ball games. Then we get to the line 20 and go 12 for 20, which was a poor performance for us, compared to how we have been shooting the ball.
“I’d rather be sitting her trying to get better on defense than trying to figure out how to score. Because the one thing I can tell you from the years that I’ve been doing this is, we can figure out a way to get better defensively. But if you can’t score it’s really hard to try to figure a way to manufacture points all game long.
A pair of juniors — Kylee Shook and Bionca Dunham — have given Walz solid play, but it’s unreasonable to compare either to Hines-Allen.
Shook contributed eight points and nine rebounds and only made one of her trademark three-point shots. She is working on another tool.
“We’ve encouraged her to use her hook shot,” Walz said. “We’ve work on it. She’s more comfortable with it and made a couple.”
Dunham, the fifth starter, had 11, scoring in double figures for the third time this season. She is averaging 8.3 points after scoring a total of 8 points in Louisville's last four games last season.
Louisville has won its first seven but only one opponent, No. 19 Arizona State, is ranked in the Top 25. Nebraska has four returning starters from a team that made the NCAA Tournament last season but the loss to U of L was the Cornhuskers’ fourth in six games.
“Their defense is very relentless,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said. “It kind of wears you down. For our team to have 23 turnovers is not characteristic of how we play.”
Against Nebraska, Durr and Fuehring played the way they have played for most of the season — like they’re the two players the opposing coach will game plan to stop every night.
Credit Durr with 25, four more than her average and her second highest total of her senior season. More than half of her field-goal attempts (9 of 17) were from distance and she made four.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking she stopped attacking the rim. She didn’t. Durr shot seven free throws, more than any player.
“She made big plays every time they needed a big play,” Williams said. “She makes the easy plays and she make the difficult plays.”
And the career high in assists?
“Every time I drove the lane, there were two or three girls on me stepping up,” Durr said.
Fuehring was also a force, celebrating her first double-double this season with 14 points and 10 boards. She’s a superb second option to Durr, with an efficient (she’s a 57.7 percent shooter) inside/outside game.
The 10-rebound performance followed a zero rebound performance against Miami Monday.
“I think I was just crashing the boards,” Fuehring said.
After playing their first five games out of town, the Cardinals are midway through a five-game homestand. They’ll return to the KFC Yum! Center Sunday to play Tennessee State at 2 p.m.
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