I kinda wanted to write "This game sucked. This weekend sucked. 2016 sucks." and leave it at that. Instead I gave it a couple of hours and now I'm ready to process the Cardinals 59-83 loss to #3 South Carolina.
ESPN let us in on Coach Walz's pre-game talk. He said that it was so early in the year that we didn't have to worry about wins and losses. Instead he said, "What I'm more interested in finding out right now is where we are a a team and where we are as individuals when it comes to competing at an elite level." I think it's safe to say that Louisville has some growing and learning to do to be able to compete at an elite level. That said, I'm still incredibly optimistic that we have the talent to get there if they want it badly enough.
The Cards came out shooting hot. Midway through the first quarter they were shooting 75%, and by the end it was still an impressive 57%. They held a 20-18 lead to start the second quarter. Asia Durr had 10 points in the first 5 minutes, but she finished the game with only 13 total. Myisha Hines-Allen got 2 fouls early and sat the rest of the half, and foul trouble kept her from contributing the entire game. Still, with 1:45 to go in the first half the USC lead was only 3, but 22 of their 36 points were in the paint as opposed to only 6 from Louisville. Two of those were by Briahanna Jackson one of the smallest players on the floor.
The second half was total domination by the Gamecocks. Kaela Davis had to sit in the first half and started the second by draining 3s. Conversely, on the Louisville end the shots stopped falling. When USC started making their outside shots that opened up the inside even more and the game got out of reach quickly. In the first five minutes of the second half the lead ballooned from 29-37 to 34-51, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
One bright spot was the return of senior Courtnee Walton from injury. It didn't appear that she was at full strength, but her aggressiveness and intelligence was immediately noticeable and will be an integral part of a successful season.
This was a good learning experience for our freshman post players. Coach Walz has harped on the fact that soon they would be playing competition just as tall as them and they would have to rely on skill vs. height to excel. This game should drive that point home quite nicely. Ciera Johnson should spend 30 minutes of every day watching film of senior Alaina Coates and try to emulate her game. Kylee Shook got absolutely bullied underneath, and it led to a frustration foul in the third quarter. Both have scads of potential but this game should crystallize that they both have a long way to go to compete at a championship level.
Hopefully they'll learn quickly because #6 Maryland comes to the Yum! this Thursday. The game is at 7:00 and is on ACCN Extra.