Jude Schimmel and Bria Smith ready for the spotlight

By on November 12, 2014

By Sam Draut– 

Two guards from opposite ends of the country converge in Louisville for their final year of college basketball. 

Bria Smith from Massapequa, New York and Jude Schimmel from Mission, Oregon have been a part of 85 wins, an Elite Eight, and an appearance in the National Championship game during their three years at Louisville. 

The two have played in 207 games in their careers and logged over 4,500 minutes.  They have been catalyst for Jeff Walz’s defensive schemes, stockpiling 261 steals over the past two seasons. 

Smith has been an explosive guard who came to Louisville ranked as the nation’s eighth best player out of high school by ESPN. 

The 5-foot-10 guard was named a third team freshman All-American and continued to improve as a sophomore during the run to the National Championship.  She was named to the Oklahoma City Regional All-Tournament team. 

Last season, Smith averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while being named to the All-American Athletic Conference second team. 

Smith spent the offseason polishing her game and once again looks to be a critical component of the backcourt. 

“I have been working on my overall game: my handles, my dribbling got way better, my pull up jumper, my outside shot, everything is looking good right now,” Smith said.

“Bria worked extremely hard this offseason, her pull up jump shot is more consistent,” Walz said. “We have been focusing on free throws.  Bria gets to the line as good as anyone, the problem is she is about a 58-60 percent free throw shooter.” 

Walz would like to have Smith shooting around 80 percent from the free throw line.  He believes she can average anywhere from 10 to 14 points per game in her final year. 

During her time at Louisville, Smith has played point guard and shooting guard.  Midway through her sophomore year, she began to see more time at point, but will play either position this year. 

“I’m playing both again.  We have me, Jude and Arica now that can play the point so I am going to switch off spots,” Smith said. 

Schimmel followed her sister to Louisville and played alongside Shoni whose prolific career culminated last March. 

Now, Jude will command the Cardinal offense during her senior year.  The 5-foot-6 guard has been an efficient offensive player with a career assist to turnover ratio of 1.3. 

In her final season, Walz expects Schimmel to play around 30 minutes a game, a stark increase from her career average of 19.7 minutes per contest. 

“I gained weight in the off-season, so I feel like my weight and endurance is really good right now. I am actually looking forward to being able to play a couple more minutes,” Schimmel said. “I am going to have a big role, but at the same time I am excited and I’m prepared.”

Along with the expanded playing time, Schimmel will be asked to do more than run the offense. 

She averaged 5.6 points per game last season, but expect that number to increase this year. 

“She will be more important to us on the offensive end of the floor.  In the past years, she has been more of a distributor and has gotten the ball to her teammates,” Walz said. “Now, I am asking her score.  I’m not expecting Jude to take twenty shots a game, but I am expecting her to take on more of a leadership role.”

Schimmel spent the offseason working on the offensive side of the ball.  Over the past two seasons, she has shot a reliable 34 percent from three, but continued to work on her shot. 

“If anyone wants to be good shooter, all it takes is practice. I have done my best to try and shoot as much as I could during the offseason,” Schimmel said. “I worked on a quicker shot and my pull up jumper, I feel like it is going to be a good year for me.”

Smith and Schimmel are determined to return to the Final Four in their final season, which would cap off a prosperous four years of Louisville basketball. 

“We just need to come together as a team. In the past, we already knew each other and already had that chemistry, so we need to build on our chemistry and work hard like we have been doing,” Smith said. 

“I feel like people might underestimate us, but with our chemistry and the growth that we have had, I feel like we will have a good chance,” Schimmel said. “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. We have to be willing to accept that and use our strengths to the best of our abilities.”

Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal 

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