Jeff Walz had some bad luck with injuries this season.
The Cardinals never had potential starters Asia Taylor and Tia Gibbs because of injuries and starting forward Shawnta' Dyer went down with a knee injury – and missed the rest of the season – in December.
The three injured players sat on the bench and watched as the Cardinals made an incredible run into the NCAA National Championship game.
Now, all three are itching to get back on the floor.
"We expect all three to come back and help us out," U of L women's coach Jeff Walz said. "They're working hard and trying to get there.
"We really overcame a lot because those are three key players for us."
Dyer, a 6-foot-1 sophomore from Marion, Ohio, averaged 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds as a freshman and was averaging 7.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in the first 11 games of this season. She was one of the team's top rebounders.
"When Shawnta' went out, it really hurt us on the boards," Walz said. "We had to have some others step up because that was a big loss."
Dyer said her rehabilitation is "going great" and is a bit ahead of schedule. Walz said he's hopeful to have her back before the start of practice.
"It was hard to watch them but I was proud of what they did," Dyer said. "I'm going to be back and will be ready."
The 6-1 Taylor suffered a torn labrum in her hip during last offseason and had surgery. She was expected to return in December but didn't make it back onto the floor until late February and never played in a game.
Taylor practiced for several weeks and at the NCAA Tournament said she was "not completely 100 percent but am getting there."
"I will be ready for next season," Taylor said. "I just have to stay consistent with my rehab and everything. I just have to get back into the flow of things.
"I don't have the pain I used to have, just some muscle soreness. I'll be fine."
Taylor has started 48 of the 94 games she's played in during her career and averaged 5.6 points and 4.8 rebounds as a junior. She has 433 career points and 337 career rebounds for the Cardinals.
Gibbs, who missed all but one game during the 2011-12 season with a shoulder injury, also missed the season with a hip injury she suffered during the offseason.
The former Miss Kentucky from Butler High School transferred from Vanderbilt and averaged 8.8 points, while starting all 35 games, during the 2010-11 season.
"It was tough to sit there and watch but I'm happy for what they all accomplished," Gibbs said. "I want to be back out there with them."
Gibbs will apply for a waiver from the NCAA to get a sixth year. She also sat out – and used her redshirt – the year after she transferred from Vandy.
"I want to come back and play an entire year, so that's why I didn't rush it," Gibbs said. "I hope (the NCAA) gives me six years to play four."