LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It doesn't really matter that the Louisville women's basketball team lost one of its best players of all time, a two-time All-American as well as two other veteran starters. Coach Jeff Walz has the program to the point where it's not really a surprise to see the Cardinals picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference and ranked ninth in the country, according to the Associated Press preseason poll released Wednesday.
Asia Durr, Sam Fuehring and Arica Carter provided more than half of the Cardinals' points and more than a third of their rebounds and assists during the 2018-19 season, which the team ended with a 32-4 record. The seniors have moved on, and although it will take time to determine roles, there may not be a big change as far as on-court success for a returning group mixed with three freshman and some important transfers.
"We aren't going to change much," Walz said Wednesday. "We do what we do and we're going to continue to do it. Now, we'll make a few adjustments offensively because we don't have Asia. Two through 11, 12, we're as good as we've ever been. I'm just not sure who the one's going to be yet."
Seniors Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook will be expected to step into bigger roles. The same goes for junior point guard Dana Evans. Yacine Diop is back for a redshirt senior season after tearing an ACL early last season.
Walz got very good news about a month ago, when Georgia Tech transfers Elizabeth Balogun and Elizabeth Dixon were both declared eligible to play this season. Balogun, checking in at 6 feet, 1 inch tall, was ACC Freshman of the Year last season, averaging 14 points a game. Dixon, at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, was a first-team All-Freshman selection in the conference.
"During the summer, I was stressed," Balogun said. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, what if I can't play?' and all that. But, when I found out, it was an off day. We were just playing pick-up games. Coach told me. I was like, 'What?! That's crazy.' I almost started crying."
The winningest senior class in school history is gone. No time to look back.
"We have the same expectations we've had," Walz said. "Our goal is to play our best basketball in March. Now, we have a longer way to go to get there than the past few years, but if you can get yourself into the Sweet 16 — the second weekend of the tournament — anything can happen."
The Cardinals begin the season with five straight games the KFC Yum! Center, starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, against Western Kentucky.
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