Jeff Walz expects great game between Louisville and Kentucky
Louisville women’s basketball plays its second straight in-state opponent, traveling to Lexington Dec. 14 to face Kentucky at Rupp Arena. The seventh-ranked Cardinals defeated Northern Kentucky 85-57 last Sunday for their ninth win.
The Wildcats are 10-0, which is the second-best start for the team under head coach Matthew Mitchell. Cardinal head coach Jeff Walz expects a great game against the 14-ranked Wildcats.
“It’s very seldom that we played each other and we aren’t each in the top 15 each year,” Walz said. “I think it speaks volumes to what they have done there. Matthew has done a great job with their program, and what we have been able to do here.”
Louisville is tasked with slowing Rhyne Howard, who leads Kentucky with 19.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-2 guard has scored 20 or more points in five games this season.
Walz wants Louisville to force Howard into becoming a high-volume scorer, making her take as many shots as possible to reach her usual point total.
“She can score in bunches, she can shoot the three extremely well,” Walz said. “She has really been working on her post-up game.”
Sabrina Haines is the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer at 11.6 points. Jaida Roper (9.2 points) and Blair Green (8.2 points) provide scoring off the bench.
“They are a really good basketball team,” Walz said. “You have a bunch of them that can play. I think they are doing a really nice job of playing within their strengths.”
Walz likes how his team has practiced in the past few days. With final exams complete, the Louisville student-athletes have been able to focus exclusively on basketball.
“We have been able to add a few things, but it’s more so cleaning up the offensive end as well as the defensive end,” Walz said.
There have been plenty of different rotations and lineups used in Louisville’s first 10 games. Walz said rotations are dictated on who his team plays.
Dana Evans is scoring 19.1 points in 31.3 minutes per game this season, both team highs. Jazmine Jones and Elizabeth Balogun each averaged 25 minutes per game.
Walz doesn’t want his players to have to pace themselves throughout the game, so he uses substitutions as a way to find maximum effort.
“We needed to be able to throw players at people,” Walz said. “When you can give some people some rest throughout a game, then you’re able to get their best effort throughout the entire game.”