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Cards roll over Union in exhibition action

Jeff Walz once again has a squad.

Louisville v Stanford Photo by Evert Nelson via Getty Images

Nobody walked into the Yum Center tonight expecting a hard fought battle between Louisville and Union. Mainly people were excited to be walking into the Yum Center. Coaches, players, and fans alike seemed happy to be back together for the thrill and excitement of college basketball.

The score was 61 - 15 at halftime so not much to say about that. Let’s talk about a couple of the new faces.

Chelsie Hall is grad transfer from Vanderbilt. With the loss of WNBA champion Dana Evans at the point she adds some depth at the guard position. She also adds that invaluable commodity in a guard of steadiness and maturity. She finished the game with 12 points on 5 of 5 shooting.

Coach Walz talked about her experience and said, “It helps. You’re not throwing it all on a freshman where all of a sudden you’re trying to adjust tot he college speed, the college quickness, the college length. You’ve got someone who played in the SEC for four years and it showed.”

Chelsie said of her first game as a Cardinal, “It was fun. It was nice to finally see all the work we’ve been doing in practice in the game. The fast pace I’ve gotten used to it. It’s nice to be able to run the floor and get up and down.”

Emily Engstler is a transfer from Syracuse and I recall that I couldn’t stand her when she played for them and somehow I adore her now for all the same reasons. Shades of Sam Fuehring. She led the team in rebounds with 6.

Coach Walz said of Emily, “She’s been fantastic. She’s a sponge. She wants to learn. It is a change from someone who played zone for three years…. but she’s really embracing it.” He added, “I’ve been really impressed with how she’s handled it mentally.”

Hailey Van Lith talked about the team’s depth. “Any type of lineup we bring a different kind of style. It’s not just that we’re replacing a girl when we sub them in. Like Ahlana Smith comes off and she brings more defensive intensity. Emily Engstler comes off the bench and she’s a long guard who can block shots. So there’s so many lineups we can play with which makes us super versatile.”

Coach Walz also mentioned Ahlana Smith’s improvement and said, “She’s committed herself to the weight room. She’s gotten stronger. She’s physically stronger and now she’s able to use her quickness and her strength to her advantage.” Hailey Van Lith also mentioned that players like Ahlana and Norika Konno put a lot of work in over the summer but also added, “I think we have leaders this year that are building players that come off the bench up so their confidence has grown.” She added, “Just seeing them come into themselves and smile more when they play has been really fun for me and I’ll continue to feed them the ball.”

Next up the Cards travel to Sioux Falls for The Invitational where they’ll play Arizona, the runners up from the 2021 season. The game is on Friday, November 12th at 4:30PM.