By Jordan Shim —
Coming off a Sweet 16 appearance in 2016, Louisville women’s basketball was tabbed ninth in the preseason rankings. Add the fourth-ranked recruiting class to an already-solid lineup featuring two of the nation’s premier players and the Cards are expected to make another postseason run under coach Jeff Walz.
All-ACC senior Myisha Hines-Allen will be a major factor in 2017-18. The Montclair, New Jersey native has collected numerous accolades during her time at the university and is a cornerstone of the offense.
ESPNW released their list of the Top 25 players in the country and Hines-Allen came in at No. 24.
“Hines-Allen has established herself as one of the best multi-dimensional, offensive power forwards in the game,” Charlie Creme of ESPNW said.
As a sophomore, she was named ACC Player of the Year, averaging 17.6 points on 54.7 percent shooting and 8.4 rebounds. Her offense took a dip last season, averaging 13.9 points as teams began to game planned around her.
Becoming more efficient from mid-range is Hines-Allen’s next step as a player.
With Hines-Allen’s scoring prowess, in addition to the development of Sam Fuehring and Kylee Shook, the Cardinals can work the ball into the interior to Hines-Allen, setting up an inside-out offense.
Despite Hines-Allen’s immense talent, it was an uphill battle for Walz to get 100 percent effort from Hines-Allen day-in and day-out. Walz calls her transformation from freshman to senior year amazing.
“It was a battle her freshman year for her to play hard all the time,” Walz said. “It’s her senior year. You’ve got to get it done now. She’s in the best shape since she’s been here. So, we’re hoping she can carry that over to the start of the season.”
One area of improvement for Hines-Allen is her consistency. Slow starts have become a common occurrence only to pick up and reach All-ACC form midway through the season.
“She’s got to come prepared when the season starts,” Walz said. “It’s not ‘let’s get a feel for things.’ No, she’s a senior now. She knows what to expect. She knows what’s coming. She can’t wait until we’re 10 to 12 games in.”
The team will look to Hines-Allen for leadership as the only senior, something she is aware of.
“I know what to expect. I know to never get too high, never get too low,” Hines-Allen said. “I know how to push my teammates because I’ve been in everyone’s shoes already.”
Hines-Allen says two of the biggest non-conference games U of L has is fifth-ranked Ohio State and top-ranked UConn. While she hasn’t played against the 11-time national champion Huskies, Hines-Allen knows Walz will have them prepared.
“Coach Walz already knows the team and is familiar with (UConn) because he has played them in the Big East and AAC,” Hines-Allen said.
You can follow Jordan on Twitter @tlcjordanshim.
File photo / The Louisville Cardinal