Since the first part of June, the U of L women’s team has been conditioning and practicing getting ready for the school year and the start of the season. Coach Walz held a press conference today giving an update on the team. With the recent success of the team and the departure of several seniors, he talked about where the team is going next in light of joining the ACC this season.
There is a video of the press conference and some cute pics of Coach Walz’s little girl on the Courier-Journal site.
The Courier-Journal posted this article today.
Louisville’s women’s basketball team faces a major task in 2014-15: Replacing several major pieces of a team that reached the Elite 8 a year after making the national championship game.
On Tuesday, U of L coach Jeff Walz said his program is on task and headed in the right direction, despite the challenges presented by the departures of WNBA All-Star Shoni Schimmel, standout forward Asia Taylor and two other key seniors.
Having five freshmen ready to play is a big factor in that transition, Walz said.
“I’m really excited about where they are now and even more excited about where they’ll be in two or three months,” Walz said.
The freshman class is built around wing Mariya Moore, a McDonald’s All-American who will play for the USA under-18 team this summer. Walz is an assistant coach for that team.
Moore and fellow freshmen Sydney Brackemyre, Arica Carter, Ariana Freeman and Myisha Hines-Allen join a returning core of seniors that includes forward Sara Hammond and guards Jude Schimmel and Bria Smith.
Louisville is losing four of its top five scorers from last season, but Hammond (10.4 points per game), Smith (7.6) and Schimmel (5.6) scored their share. Hammond was the second-leading rebounder on the team; Schimmel was second in assists.
“I’m expecting more of them,” Walz said of his seniors. “I’m really excited to see what our returning players are going to do.”
Hammond in particular will play a key role this upcoming season. The 6-foot-2 post won the FIBA 3-on-3 world championships this summer, and Walz hopes that experience will translate to a larger leadership role at U of L.
“She learned to play quicker,” he said, noting that the 3-on-3 shot clocks are 12 seconds. “It really worked on her in terms of the speed of things. She’s going to have to be a leader for us. She’s got everything you need in that role.”
Walz said guards Starr Breedlove and Monny Niamke decided to transfer, though they haven’t found landing spots yet. Neither played major roles on last season’s team.
He also said Louisville’s nonconference schedule includes matchups at California and at home against Kentucky, in addition to games against Iowa, Western Kentucky and Belmont.
That slate precedes Louisville’s first season in the ACC, which Walz called, “top to bottom, without a doubt the best league in the country.”
National runner-up Notre Dame is the team to beat, with Louisville, North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse each possessing programs that regularly challenge for league titles.
But joining a new league won’t change what U of L does, Walz said, whether it’s on the court or recruiting prospects.
“It’s going to be fun,” Walz said. “It really makes for an enjoying X’s and O’s time … You’ve got to come to play every night in the ACC.”