Previewing the American: University of Louisville

USA TODAY Sports

The University of Louisville Cardinals will spend one season in the AAC where they'll have two chances to extract revenge on the UCONN Huskies.

After upsetting Brittney Griner and the Baylor in last year's NCAA tournament, the Cardinals fell to the UCONN Huskies preventing Louisville basketball from sweeping last year's college titles. Kentucky fans everywhere let out a collective sigh of relief. Now the Cardinals will spend one season in the AAC before moving on to the ACC, which won't confuse anyone, I'm sure.

The Cardinals are bringing back some experience to this year's team with five seniors and nine upperclassmen in total. This experienced team is bolstered by just one incoming freshman and will be looking to make their 16th trip to the NCAA tournament.

While the real prize will be getting back into the tournament, I have to imagine many players are looking forward to the opportunity to extract revenge on the University of Connecticut who they will play twice in the regular season. Because the schedule is lame, we have to wait until Feb. 19 to see these teams go at it for the first time.

I'll get a chance to see the Cardinals live and in person in late January when Louisville descend upon the Houston Cougars.

2012-13 Record: 29-9 (11-5 Conference)

2012-13 Conference: Big East

2013-14 Season Opener: 11/09 vs. Loyola Chicago

Who's back:

  • Sara Hammond: The junior played in 37 games for Louisville and tied for the team lead in blocked shots. Hammond was also second on the team in scoring with 10.8 points a game.
  • Sheronne Vails: At 6-4, Vails is the tallest member of the Cardinals, but despite playing 15 minutes a game (and shooting 50 percent from the field), Vails only averaged four points and 2.8 rebounds a game.
  • Antonita Slaughter: Averaged 10 points and five rebounds as a junior. Slaughter shot 43 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range (the best on the team). She was also the best free throw shooter for the Cards, making 86 percent of her attempts.
  • Shawnta' Dyer: Started 10 games for Louisville before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December. Dyer finished the season averaging seven points a game and shooting over 50 percent from the field.
  • Cortnee Walton: Saw action in 33 games with no starts as a true freshman. Walton played 12 minutes a game and shot 53 percent from the field to average 2.8 points a game (she did not shoot a whole lot, as it turns out).
  • Megan Deines: The 6-1 sophomore started 15 games for Louisville last year and appeared in 37. Despite her name being a perfect anagram for "denies" the guard had only one blocked shot last season. I'm as disappointed as you are.
  • Bria Smith: She started 32 games for the Cardinals last year and in 25 minutes a game averaged 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field. She had the third most assists on the team and led the team in steals (78).
  • Jude Schimmel: One of four players to start all 38 games for Louisville, Schimmel averaged over 20 minutes a game despite not earning a start the entire season. She played backup point guard to her older sister Shoni and finished the season with 107 assists and 81 turnovers.
  • Shoni Schimmel: Older sister of Jude, the senior is the starting point guard for the Cardinals. She led the team with 136 assists last season. Schimmel averaged 14 points a game and shot 39 percent from the field. Finished the season with a 1.06 A/TO ratio.
  • Tia Gibbs: Sat out last season with a hip injury and returns as a redshirt senior.
  • Asia Taylor: Also sat out last season with a hip injury. The Cardinals have two redshirt seniors who sat out last season with hip injuries. That's something.

Who's new:

  • Monny Niamke: A transfer from Lindsey Wilson, Niamke enters as a redshirt sophomore. She led in assists at Wilson with 95 and in 3-point percentage (35 percent).
  • Starr Breedlove: A frontrunner for best name in the AAC, Breedlove is a junior college transfer who joins the Cardinals as a sophomore. She averaged nine points and six assists with Trinity College.
  • Emmonnie Henderson: The only incoming freshman is a good one. Henderson is a four-star prospect and is the eighth highest rated guard in the country.
Full Roster:

00 Sara Hammond 6-2 F JR Mt. Vernon, Ky. (Rockcastle County HS)
2 Monny Niamke 5-5 G RS SO Rouen, France (Lindsey Wilson)
3 Sheronne Vails 6-4 C SR Odenton, Md. (Arundel HS)
4 Antonita Slaughter 6-1 G SR Louisville, Ky. (Louisville Christian Academy)
10 Starr Breedlove 5-6 G SO Teaneck, N.J. (Trinity Valley CC)
12 Shawnta' Dyer 6-1 F RS JR Marion, Ohio (Marion Harding HS)
13 Cortnee Walton 6-3 F SO Surprise, Ariz. (St. Mary's HS)
15 Megan Deines 6-1 G SO Springfield, Mo. (Glendale HS)
21 Bria Smith 5-10 G JR Massapequa, N.Y. (Christ the King HS)
22 Jude Schimmel 5-6 G JR Mission, Ore. (Franklin HS)
23 Shoni Schimmel 5-9 G SR Mission, Ore. (Franklin HS)
25 Tia Gibbs 5-9 G RS SR Louisville, Ky. (Vanderbilt Univ.)
31 Asia Taylor 6-1 F RS SR Columbus, Ohio (Whetstone HS)
32 Emmonnie Henderson 6-1 F FR Edwardsville, Ill. (Edwardsville HS)
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