Dishin & Swishin 12/04/14 Podcast: With five Sweet Sixteen visits in seven years, Louisville Jeff Walz will settle for nothing less than a championship
In this week’s podcast, Jeff Walz commented that at Louisville, he does not worry about winning conference championships, he worries about national championships.
Think about that for a second. This is a head coach in his first year in the prestigious, fierce and intense Atlantic Coast Conference, taking on established conference members Duke and North Carolina, to name two. Last year Notre Dame, a perennial national power joined the conference.
Yet Walz has his sights set not on winning the conference championship, but the big prize, the NCAA title. Heck, even Geno Auriemma said that defending champion Connecticut’s first goal is the conference championship. When you have one title as a top assistant, then make five trips to the Sweet Sixteen and two trips to the finals in your seven years as a head coach, it is easy to have lofty aspirations.
The success of Walz and his teams are helping turn Louisville into one of the hot programs in the country, with top facilities, a coach that wants to grow the game and promote and it is yielding bumper crops of recruits.
Walz joins Dishin & Swishin this week for the first time, talking about his success on the court and the recruiting trail, as he begins his eighth year as Cardinals coach. Make no mistake though, year eight of the Walz regime at Louisville is sure to be a multifaceted, challenging season.
It is impossible to go into a season after losing four of your top five scorers to graduation (60 percent of their points), including Shoni Schimmel, the heart and soul of the team for the last four years. Schimmel and Asia Taylor both played in the WNBA this past summer.
In their place, Walz is starting three seniors and two freshmen and the team has not missed a beat. While he admits in the podcast that they are not the seventh best team in the country right now, they enter tonight’s game against No. 22 Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten challenge an undefeated 7-0, ranked number seven in both polls.
It is the two freshmen, Myisha Hines-Allen and Mariya Moore, that are pacing the offense.
In just over 20 minutes per game, Hines-Allen, a 6-2 forward from New Jersey, is averaging 15.1 points per game, shooting 64 percent from the floor. Moore, from California, contributes 14.3 points per game, and an impressive 3.6 assists/turnover ratio.
The seniors, Sara Hammond, Bria Smith, and Jude Schimmel (Shoni’s sister), do all those “other things” as well as score. Smith picked up a triple-double already this season. Hammond, after winning a gold medal playing 3×3 ball for the United States this summer, is playing with more confidence, and averaging 10 points while leading the team in rebounding. Schimmel is a steadying presence on the court, contributing mightily on the defensive end, leading the team in steals along with Smith.
The future may be even brighter for Louisville, as next year they welcome the number one ranked recruiting class, anchored by highly touted guard Asia Durr. Those old school ACC teams better look out for the Cardinals.
Topics covered with Walz this week include:
- Replacing last year’s talented senior class
- The freshmen, their early success and his expectations not only for them but for the team
- The growth in the overall game of Bria Smith
- Sara Hammond and the influence of USA Basketball on her game
- Entering the ACC, scheduling out of conference games, future opponents
- Being in the same conference with UConn, playing them as often as they have
- Recruiting success
After Iowa, Louisville faces No. 13 Kentucky, and later in December, they will head out to take on No. 10 California, so those freshmen will be put to the test prior to conference play begins. Conference matchups will be outstanding in the ACC this year!
Enjoy the podcast!