By Sam Draut–
The University of Louisville women’s basketball team bring in high expectations with their 2012-13 team, as the Cardinals are ranked No. 9 and bring back four starters from last year’s 23-10 team which finished sixth in the Big East.
U of L returns a talented roster; Monique Reid is a fifth-year senior working back from a knee injury suffered early last year. The 6-1 forward is a two-time member of the All-Big East Conference first team. Though Reid will see limited minutes in the first few weeks, the Cards expect her to be back to full strength at the start of Big East play. She only played eight games before the injury last season, averaging 13.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
“This is my last year; there’s no coming back. I just want to show everybody what I can do and how hard I’ve worked,” Reid said.
Junior point guard Shoni Schimmel is a unanimous preseason first team All-Big East pick and could possibly earn All-American considerations this year. Schimmel averaged 14.1 points and 4.7 assists per game last season.
Sophomore guard Bria Smith provided a spark last year, averaging 9.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Smith came into U of L last year as the No. 8 player in the nation by ESPN.
Former McDonald’s All-American sophomore forward, Sara Hammond, returns to provide the Cards with a solid inside-out presence. She averaged 3.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last year, but her role will be expanded this season.
Junior Antonita Slaughter, sophomore Jude Schimmel and senior Shelby Harper can expect more time at the guard position this season with the loss of departed senior Becky Burke. Burke hit 81 three pointers last season. Freshman Megan Deines could also help to fill the void.
Several Cardinals are still rehabbing from injuries; junior guard Tia Gibbs is expected to return in December and senior Asia Taylor could miss time due to a hip injury.
Jeff Walz enters into his sixth season as the head coach. He has taken U of L to three Sweet Sixteens and went to the National Championship game in 2009. His strength has been recruiting: he brought in three consecutive Top-10 recruiting classes from 2009-11.
“We’re a program here, we are not one player. We might not have HoopGurlz top 10 players each year, but we have players who want to be at Louisville,” Walz said. “We have players who want the program to take the next step.”
The Cards face a tough non-conference schedule, facing nationally ranked Texas A&M and Kentucky at the KFC YUM! Center.
Louisville was selected to finish third in Big East preseason poll. Connecticut and Notre Dame were picked ahead of the Cards, St. John’s and Rutgers rounded out the top five.
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal