LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The first-round game is a time for uncertainty. The second-round game is a time to remind everybody in women’s college basketball that your program is a member of The Club.
Louisville showed uncertainty in its first-round NCAA Tournament game against Marist on Monday night in San Antonio, Texas. On a night when the Cardinals won 74-43, they trailed by nine points nearly two minutes in the to second quarter.
“I thought it took us awhile to get adjusted,” U of L coach Jeff Walz said. “I think now our jitters are out, and we’ll play with more confidence.”
Game two is a different animal. In game two, Walz has consistently proven he has built one of the five or 10 best programs in the nation.
If the Cardinals, a 2-seed, defeat Northwestern at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Alamodome, the victory will register as Louisville’s fourth consecutive trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Only seven other programs — Baylor, UConn, South Carolina, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA and Stanford — are positioned to equal that claim.
A win over Northwestern would put Louisville in its eighth Sweet Sixteen since 2011. Only four programs — Baylor, Notre Dame, Stanford and UConn — have more.
Walz takes care of business in the postseason. The victory against Marist improved his first-round record to 12-0. The ppset stigma never finds him.
How about round two?
One loss was an upset — by a point against DePaul five years ago. The other was not — by four to Maryland, which was the higher seeded team
Generally, Walz and his team take care of business in the second round. The nine victories have been by an average of more than 15 points.
The circumstances this season are different. As a No. 2 seed in a normal year, the Cardinals would be playing in the KFC Yum! Center. This game will be at a neutral site in front of a modest crowd.
In his media availability Tuesday, Walz made several points. The Cards need Dana Evans, their All-American guard, to relax and not fret about scoring.
At the end of March, Evans was averaging 21 points per game. In the Cards’ last four games she scored eight, 13, 15 and 15. Evans made 4-26 shots from distance during that stretch. Overall, Evans made 20-63 shots, only 31.7%.
“As we know, when Dana is at her best, we are pretty special,” Walz said. “But I was really pleased with how the rest of the team performed.
“The thing I’m trying to get Dana to realize and really grasp is she is more than just a scorer. She can do more for this basketball team than just score points.
“The past few ball games, she’s kind of gotten emotionally tied to scoring. I’ve got to get her regrouped hopefully (Tuesday) at practice and then (Wednesday) morning at shootaround to realize the impact, what an impact she has on this team for this team, even if she is not scoring.
“She can facilitate. She can defend. And just lead with the energy that she plays with.”
Northwestern is a solid, veteran team led by Veronica Burton, a guard who average more than four steals per game. The Wildcats, ranked No. 31 in the NCAA’s NET computer formula, play a 2-3 matchup zone that Louisville will be challenged to solve with more passing and less dribbling.
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