CARDS LOOKING TO PACK THE HOUSE
In what has been called the best opening-week women's basketball game in the country, the University of Louisville will open the season on Friday night.
The Cardinals, ranked No. 9 in the preseason AP poll, are trying to pack the house for the opener against No. 12 Texas A&M.
"It's a big game, a tough way to start off the year," U of L coach Jeff Walz said. "We're excited to get going and it's fun to start off this way.
The game will tip off at 7 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center.
Walz, whose program ranked No. 2 nationally in attendance last season, has a goal for this game and for the season.
"Our goal is to get 22,000 people into this place and then go out there and play the way we know we can play," he said. "It says a lot about our program for us to be able to put that many people in the stands.
"It shows that women's basketball is here."
FRESHMEN WILL CONTRIBUTE FOR CARDS
Walz only has two freshmen on the roster but he has high expectations from both Megan Deines and Cortnee Walton this season.
"They can both play and they both will play," Walz said. "Cortnee has been slowed a little by a stress reaction (in her foot) but we expect a lot from them."
Senior Monique Reid added the two freshmen "are really, really good."
"They're both going to help," she said. "Megan is stepping in really good and making shots. She has had to fill Becky Burke's spot."
Deines had 11 points in 23 minutes in the exhibition against Eckerd College, while Walton played eight minutes and had two points and two boards.
"The freshmen are stepping up," junior point guard Shoni Schimmel said. "Megan can really shoot it."
The 6-foot-1 Deines is from Springfield, Mo., who averaged 16.2 points and seven rebounds a game as a senior. She was named conference Player of the Year and is expected to be one of U of L's top outside threats.
Deines' father played college basketball at Arizona State.
Walton is a 6-foot-3 forward from Surprise, Ariz., who helped St. Mary's High School to state titles as a junior and senior.
Also a volleyball player in high school, Walton will give the Cardinals some added depth on the front line.
NCAA TOURNAMENT AT YUM CENTER
It's just the first game of the season but already Walz is talking about the NCAA Tournament and for good reason.
The Cardinals will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament this season. In women's basketball, the host team does play at their own site.
"To be able to host the first two rounds is a big advantage for us," Walz said. "Its big for us to be able to have it."
And Walz already wants it to come back.
He said tickets are already on sale and his goal is to sell 8,000 or more before Christmas time, to make a statement to the NCAA.
"I truly believe to have an opportunity to host things like this, we have to show we deserve to host it and host it every year," he said. "The only way to do that is to get a good crowd. I know our fans are going to come out."
Tickets are on sale at the U of L ticket office and through Ticketmaster.com.