Louisville’s chances took a hit before the starting lineups were even announced for the Cardinals’ Sweet 16 matchup against Gonzaga at the Arena Saturday night.
That wasn’t clear until 90 seconds into the game when leading scorer and rebounder Monique Reid limped to the bench.
“She got hurt in warm-ups stretching,” UL coach Jeff Walz said. “I don’t know how in the hell that happens, but she did. She pulled a groin or something.”
Reid, who averaged 15.9 points and 6.2 rebounds, scored the first basket of the game. Then 14 seconds after Gonzaga tied it she went to the bench. She tried to go a couple of other times, but her basket was her only stat as the seventh-seeded Cardinals fell to the Bulldogs 76-69.
“It’s very, very unfortunate that you get to a Sweet 16 and you get a kid that gets hurt in warm-ups,” Walz said. “I tell everybody that warm-ups are great, but I’ve yet to see – if y’all have dogs – I’ve yet to see a dog stretch before it chases a damn car. I mean that dog just takes off sprinting and he seems to be OK.”
It’s about coaching
Walz took the blame for the Cardinals’ loss without really accepting the blame.
“I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half defending them, unfortunately I’ve got to do a better job,” he said. “This is the second time I’ve got to the Sweet 16 with a team that I just don’t do a very good job of coaching my kids on how to get to the free-throw line.
“(The Bulldogs) go 24 for 28 from the free-throw line and we go 5 for 9. It’s bad coaching on my part. I’ve got to figure out a way how to get my kids to get to the free-throw line. It’s nothing to do with the officiating. It’s more to do with my coaching.”
Three years ago when the Cards lost to North Carolina, he said the Tar Heels shot 40 free throws to Louisville’s six.
Walz and Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves became friends last summer recruiting in Romania and shared a good laugh before the game after they were introduced.
“He forgot to come down and shake my hand,” said Walz, who was masking his disappointment with humor in the interview room. “Can you believe that? I asked if that’s what you get when you come out West. Southern hospitality, we’re going to go meet you. … So I had to walk all the way down to get him.”
Graves blamed an assistant coach who wouldn’t stop talking to him so he spaced out his manners.
“He’s a great guy,” Walz continued, but then got sidetracked. “I hate to lose. I don’t take it very well. I’ve got a foul mouth at times. But when you stutter – have you all seen the “King’s Speech?” Well, I stutter. So when you cuss, you don’t stutter. That’s true.
“So when you’re trying to say things and you know you’re going to stutter, you just cuss. Everybody gets upset that I have a little bit of a foul mouth, but I promise you, that movie is dead on.”
Kayla Standish scored 30 points in both Gonzaga NCAA wins last weekend at McCarthey Athletic Center and Louisville was ready for her, limiting her to eight points on 4-of-10 shooting.
“Well, we let everybody else score,” Walz said.
The Bulldogs really didn’t miss a beat on offense, with four players still reaching double figures. Kelly Bowen, who only put up four shots in two games last weekend, making just one and scoring three points, had 12 on 4-of-9 shooting.
“There were times I’d catch ball and think, ‘Geez I’m so open right now, I’m going to let it fly’ and they were dropping,” she said. “I can shoot the ball. If no one’s going to guard me, I’m going to let it go.”
The Cardinals said they like to run and they were going to run with the Bulldogs, the highest-scoring team in the nation.
They were deliberate in the first half, however, scoring just 24 points to trail by 11. On one early possession Louisville was not even remotely close to the basket or looking for a shot when the shot clock expired.
“They’re a running team, but I guess when you’re trying to go against a running team like us, I don’t know if it’s going to work in your favor,” Bowen said. “I would put money on any one of our players to outrun anyone else on any other team. I think that might have been a game plan, because when you have to limit possessions you do have to let the clock run down.”
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