Practice has started for the Cardinals
The University of Louisville women's basketball team started practice on Wednesday and have now been through three days, preparing for the new season that begins next month.
"It's been great," U of L coach Jeff Walz said. "It's been a great time to get things started with full practice.
"It's a time we have waited for and now it's here so we are really excited to get going."
Walz said the first three days of practice have been "really good" for the Cardinals.
U of L junior Myisha Hines-Allen said the first day "wasn't as bad as it could have been," noting the team had practice in preparation for the trip to Cuba in August and are "ready for this day."
Hines-Allen ready for another campaign
Hines-Allen is the reigning ACC Player of the Year after averaging 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds a game as a sophomore last season.
During the off-season Hines-Allen said she challenged herself during the offseason, noting she "had a lot of things I can improve on." Hines-Allen said she's ready for her junior season and Walz echoed her sentiments.
"She has done really well this summer," Walz said. "We are still trying to keep her focused and knowing how to work at all times. But she has improved her game, she has worked on her outside shot and her ball handling has gotten better.
"I'm excited for her this season."
Walz said the entire team has improved.
"All of our players have gotten better," he said. "We need everybody to take the next step in order for us to take the next step."
Johnson a huge addition for the Cardinals
Point guard Taylor Johnson is the first fifth-year transfer for Walz and he said she was a "huge addition."
The 5-foot-7 Johnson comes from Loyola-Chicago where she scored in double figures in all 24 games last season and was a two-time all-league selection during her time at the school.
Johnson averaged 14.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists in her 93 games at Loyola.
"Her quickness is something that we really have not had at the point guard spot," Walz said. "And not just her quickness but her strength also. She can get the ball out of her hands quick and she absorbs contact.
"She's just an all-around good basketball player."
Shot selection is the key for Cards
U of L shot 43.5 percent from the field with only a few players on the roster hitting over 45 percent from the field.
Walz said one of the biggest improvements this season for his squad must be shot selection.
"We have too many good players to take any bad shots," he said. "It's something you learn through the years. We have to get them to realize that sometimes you can say, 'I am open' but I also might have a teammate that has a better look."
A tough stretch coming up
Walz said his team's schedule this season was "very challenging," noting he wanted to make the non-conference schedule a bit tougher with the team he has returning for the Cardinals.
"It's far the best non-conference schedule we have put together since I have been here," Walz said. "It's going to be something that's challenging and something our fans I hope will come out enjoy."
But there's one stretch in particular that Walz called "really, really tough."
"We are in Springfield, Mass., playing South Carolina on a Sunday and then come back and play in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against Maryland at home on a Thursday," Walz said. "And then we have Kentucky at home on Sunday (Dec. 4) and then following Sunday is Western Kentucky at home. We are going to find out in the first month where we stand and what the future can hold for us."
Walz said that is "four very, very tough games."
Cards add an exhibition game
Louisville has added an exhibition game on Nov. 6 in the KFC Yum Center against Lindsey Wilson.
The exhibition wasn't on the original schedule but Walz said it has been recently added to the schedule and will be great for his team to get a game situation in before the opener on Nov. 11 at UT Martin.
U of L will host Lindsey Wilson at 2 o'clock. Walz said he doesn't think it will be a ticketed game, noting fans can "just show up."