Reid, Gibbs make Cards even stronger

Louisville women's basketball, picked No. 4 nationally in 2012-13 by Sports Illustrated, got even stronger Monday when forward Monique Reid and guard Tia Gibbs were granted medical hardships to return next season.

With four returning starters from a team that nearly knocked off nationally-ranked Maryland in the NCAA Tournament, Louisville is expected to be one of the top teams in women's basketball next season. Monday, Jeff Walz' team got even stronger when forward Monique Reid and guard Tia Gibbs were granted medical hardships to return next season.

Reid, an All-Big East performer who led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore and junior, missed most of her senior season after injuring her knee in the Big East opener against Cincinnati. Before her injury, Reid was averaging 13.1 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Gibbs, a starter as a junior, injured her shoulder in the first game of the season against Missouri State and missed the rest of the year. One of Louisville's top perimeter defenders, Gibbs led the team with 95 steals in 2010-11, while averaging 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds.

"We are extremely excited to have Tia and Monique back next year," Walz said. "They both have worked very hard throughout the rehab process and have maintained a positive attitude in their recovery. We are anticipating them both back at the beginning of the season and look forward to a healthy and prosperous 2012-13 campaign. There is no doubt they will add great skill and leadership to our already experienced line-up."

Despite early season losses to two key starters, Louisville nearly upset second-seed Maryland on their home court in the NCAA Tournament second round. The Cardinals return starters Shoni Schimmel and Bria Smith, who averaged a combined 23 points and more than six assists, in the backcourt, while forwards Sara Hammond, Shawnta Dyer and Asia Taylor all gained starting experience this season. Junior Sherrone Vails, who started 26 games, returns at center, and top recruit, 6'3 Arizona forward Courtney Walton, could provide needed rebounding and depth in the post.

The return of Reid and Gibbs will have preseason publications predicting greatness from the Cardinals in 2012-13. Sports Illustrated ranked Louisville No. 4 in their early preseason poll behind Baylor, the defending national champions, UConn, and Duke and ahead of Maryland and Kentucky.

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