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Louisville's Shoni Schimmel will certainly be drafted by a WNBA team in Monday's draft, but if she makes a roster and succeeds she'll be a somewhat unique case.
After highlighting Maryland's defensive effort in their Sweet 16 win against Tennessee, Todd Carton of SB Nation's Testudo Times once again brought attention to a defensive effort that reduced Louisville's normally efficient offense to just 0.78 points per possession.
Part of that effort was forcing Louisville into turnovers on 25.2% of their possessions. part of it was their defense of Cardinals star guard Shoni Schimmel.
As mentioned previously, Katie Rutan was a major part of an effort to bother Schimmel in the first half. In the second half, they shut her down almost entirely.
[Katie Rutan] picked up a steal and drew an early charge on Shoni Schimmel...Sometimes, you simply can't look at the final numbers. When Shoni Schimmel made a jump shot with 15:08 to play in the second half, Louisville had 45 points. The Cardinals reached 47 points with 7:36 to play. That's over seven and a half minutes without a point. Before that Antonita Slaughter basket, Maryland went from a three point deficit to a nine point lead. Before she made three of four ridiculously tough three point jumpers in the game's final 31 seconds, the Terps held Schimmel to 36 percent shooting and 25 percent from behind the arc - both below her season average. (But all credit to her for making huge shots when they counted.)
Although Carton discussed the shots she did take, perhaps more interesting were the shots Maryland prevented her from taking.
The Terrapins trapped Schimmel off screens to force Louisville's offense out of their rhythm and used a mix of taller, longer defenders to make her think twice about shooting and contest shots when she did get looks.
As much as some of the Cardinals' turnovers were due to poor decision-making, Maryland's activity and athleticism all over the court was a primary reason for stopping Louisville.
Mike Rutherford of SB Nation's Card Chronicle wrote a brief summary Louisville's loss to Maryland last night, highlighting the legacy of Shoni Schimmel even in a disappointing outcome.
Shoni Schimmel, who finished with a game-high 31 points, then led a furious rally that pulled the Cards to within three with 3.5 seconds left...Credit the crowd on a remarkable performance, and a tip of the cap to the seniors, especially No. 23, on a remarkable run. In the past couple of years, casual observers have become lifelong fans and season-ticket holders, and this group deserves all the credit for that.
During the game, it was noted that Schimmel is as much an entertainer as she is an impact player and that was on full display tonight as she played about as hard as anyone had seen with her college career on the line - perhaps one could even argue she went a bit too hard at times in shooting 12-for-29 and recording a game-high seven turnovers - almost adding another moment for the ages with a game-tying three in the Elite Eight to match last year's magic.
Turnovers had to be expected in the Elite Eight matchup between Louisville and Maryland, but part of what helped the Terrapins survive their 15 first half turnovers to win the game was the shooting of senior Katie Rutan, who had 12 points on four first half threes.
John Langley of SB Nation's Testudo Times made mention of Rutan's significance in his recap of the game.
Rutan would prove to be the hot hand in the first four minutes with two three-points baskets to pace the way for an early 9-4 lead, but the Cards responded with a big three of their own closing the gap to two...The Cards came out of the (under-4) timeout with a long two to take the lead again but Alyssa Thomas would not be denied and hit her runner to retake the lead. A pair of free throws gave the Cards another lead but Rutan couldn't miss and hit yet another three for a 30-28 lead...The usual duo of Alyssa Thomas and Lexi Brown stepped up when needed in this game, but the play of Katie Rutan and her four threes in the first half helped keep the Terps in it so they could make a run to take their five point lead with just under 12 minutes remaining.
Rutan was quiet in the second half, but made a few key defensive plays and was responsible for just one of Maryland's 25 total turnovers.
I seem to be in the minority about this, but it's really hard to ignore that a game with 46 combined turnovers was a bit sloppy. But it certainly didn't lack for drama, with Shoni Schimmel missing a potentially game-tying three at the buzzer off a great inbounds play.
Schimmel finished with game-highs of 31 points and 7 turnovers while Alyssa Thomas finished with a team-high 13 rebounds to go with a team-high 22 points.
In the past when we talked about Louisville turnovers, we might have discussed the high-risk, high-reward play of guard Shoni Schimmel.
Yet as Michael Grant of the Journal-Courier has noted, that's an area of improvement for the senior lately.
That's not it, though. Schimmel has always been a lethal scorer. Now the star guard has been an incredibly efficient playmaker too with 18 assists to only three turnovers in the NCAAs.
On Sunday afternoon, she propelled U of L to its third straight rout by clobbering LSU 73-47. Schimmel finished with 19 points 6-of-13 shooting with six assists and two turnovers in 30 minutes.
To put the numbers in even broader context, Schimmel has a career-low 89 turnovers this season - a reasonable turnover ratio of about 11%. For those watching her as a WNBA draft prospect, that's a big development for her: although her 39.6% field goal percentage won't make her the most efficient player in the draft, her improved ball handling numbers might help her stock a bit.
Todd Carton of SB Nation's Testudo Times wrote up a rather comprehensive analysis of the statistical profiles for Louisville and Maryland to preview tonight's Elite Eight matchup.
In the search for potential advantages the Terrapins could establish, he highlights rebounding as a battle that Maryland should win. But a more interesting thing to watch could be the turnover situation given that both are somewhat turnover-prone teams that force more than they commit.
Louisville yields 58.9 points per game and does so by sound perimeter defense that generates turnovers and forces their opponents out of their comfort zone. On average, they force over 19 turnovers per game or a turnover on one of every four possessions somewhat better than Maryland whose foes turn the ball over about twenty-two percent of the time...If they are to win Tuesday night, the Terps will need better play from Lexi Brown. Though she scored 14 points in the win against Tennessee, the freshman had only one assist and an uncharacteristic six turnovers. Walz will have noticed this and will try to pressure Brown into continuing to make poor decisions.
To his point about Brown, going up against Louisville guards Jude Schimmel and Bria Smith - who are both adept at creating steals - won't make things any easier on her in this round. But to Maryland's advantage might be that their most turnover-prone players are low-usage Alicia DeVaughn and seldom-used Brene Moseley; two of Louisville's three most turnover-prone players are ball handlers Schimmel and Smith.
The defensive schemes will be interesting to watch, but the Cardinals' pair of turnover-prone guards could be as significant as the Terrapins' less experienced one.
After a sub-par performance against Texas, Maryland's Alyssa Thomas left everyone in awe of her talent to lead her team to the Elite Eight.
In a breakdown of Maryland's 73-62 win over Tennessee in the Sweet 16, Todd Carton of SB Nation's Testudo Times challenged the notion that the Lady Vols' turnover problems were more about poor execution on their part rather than strong Terrapins defense.
...only two teams turned the Vols over more in their 35 game season - North Carolina in the second game of the season and Troy State in a game in which the Vols took 80 shots and scored 103 points. The only other team to hold Tennessee to under 36 percent shooting was Stanford who matched Maryland's 35.8 percent defensive effort and the sixty-three points they scored was their second lowest total of the season. One might say the Terrapins' defense forced Tennessee to rock-y bottom.
As it turns out, there's something to what he describes here: the pace of those North Carolina and Troy games was much faster than Sunday's game against Maryland. So according to WBB State, the Lady Vols had their worst turnover rate of the season (by a narrow margin) against the Terrapins. That contributed to them having their second-lowest offensive rating of the season.
Of course, as anyone who has watched Tennessee will tell you, the mistakes they made were disturbingly typical in a season that had its share of plot twists - it's really hard to separate the Terps' defensive performance from the Lady Vols just falling victim to their own bad habits again.
SB Nation's Card Chronicle offered up a short summary of Louisville's 73-47 win over LSU today, which was really a developing rout from start to finish.
WBB State's Four Factors graphic shows where they established a major advantage: Louisville's +24.6% effective field goal percentage differential was equal to LSU's actual 24.6% effective field goal percentage.
David Hooper of Rocky Top Talk wrote a somber summary of Tennessee's 73-62 loss to Maryland today, but he really summed up the game best with a comment in our open thread:
So for anybody who watched Tennessee-Maryland but hasn't seen much Tennessee this year, you just saw every bad habit of Tennessee’s in one game. That’s how they lost to Stanford, LSU, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky during the regular season as well.
Maryland's Alyssa Thomas is going to get a lot of credit for this one - and deservedly so with a career-high 33 points - but Tennessee fans aren't just seeing the world through rose-colored glasses if they claim a lot of this loss came due to self-inflicted harm.
Sadly, it was just a fitting end to a season for a team that seemed to be on the upswing, but couldn't survive its own flaws; that makes the following tweet less trolling than a simple statement of fact.
Tennessee @LadyVol_Hoops have no sense of drama. Out they go again, this time with a chance to playing at home for the title. Bye-bye— John Altavilla (@jaltavilla) March 30, 2014
As David Hooper of Rocky Top Talk wrote in his preview this morning, "We're now at the point in the tournament where any team can realistically beat any other team (Notre Dame and UConn excepted)" - it's hard to call this one a true "upset".
But with Tennessee having an opportunity to go to the Final Four with a home crowd behind them, it's certainly a disappointment for Lady Vols fans.
On the other hand, Alyssa Thomas looked about as dominant as it gets in scoring a career-high 33 points to go with 13 rebounds.
Todd Carton of SB Nation's Testudo Times previewed Maryland's Sweet 16 game against Tennessee, highlighting an interesting key matchup between familiar foes.
One other interesting match-up could be between the freshman point guards. Lexi Brown assumed the starting role for Maryland early in the season while her Tennessee counterpart, redshirt freshman Andraya Carter, took over as the starter when Ariel Massengale went down with a head injury in Tennessee's January 23 game against Florida. Although she's had moments where she played like a freshman, the team hasn't missed a beat winning thirteen of their fourteen games since Carter assumed the starting role. The intrigue comes because Carter hails from Buford, GA which is just a seven mile hop up Route 23 from Lexi's home town of Suwanee. I suspect they're familiar with one another.
Obviously both teams have bigger stars - not to mention other more experienced players who are capable of handling the ball and making plays, but the ability of these two freshmen to run their teams in the halfcourt might indeed have an impact.
Interestingly, Brown is actually the more efficient ball handler and Carter is the more efficient, if less involved, offensive player. But their familiarity with one another could make for an interesting battle on the defensive end.
A look at a few WNBA prospects from the Louisville region in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
In Tuesday's second-round victory over West Virginia, there was some sad news that came out of that win for LSU. Starting senior guard Jeanne Kenney suffered another concussion which has ended her career with the Tigers -- she has had at least three to four concussions in the past. Kenney was LSU's second leading scorer at 11.3 points per game. This is a tough loss for the Tigers as they are also without freshman sensation, Raigyne Moncrief. Moncrief suffered a left knee injury that will require surgery.
Todd Carton of SB Nation's Maryland site Testudo Times recapped Maryland's more difficult than expected 69-64 win (at home) against Texas, highlighting the efforts of Terrapins forward Alicia DeVaughn.
...the Terps' inside players deserve special mention. Brionna Jones, Malina Howard, and Alicia DeVaughn. Their presence defensively and on the boards were essential to Maryland's win Tuesday...My vote for player of the game goes to Alicia DeVaughn who contributed 12 points and 7 rebounds. She made life in the paint tough for Texas all night and importantly sank all six of her second half free throws...[Said] DeVaughn, "We knew coming in that it was going to be a physical game. We played together and communicated throughout the whole game. Just working with each other. It was great."
Where Texas tried to establish an advantage was from beyond the arc, where they dropped in three consecutive threes in the second half to whittle the lead down to just three. That might have been good preparation for their Sweet 16 matchup against Shoni Schimmel and Louisville, who aren't exactly shy about launching the three ball themselves.
That's the LSU women's 8th Sweet 16 appearance in the last 12 years. Tonight's win has to be the toughest of them all.— Kyle Whitfield (@Kyle_Whitfield) March 26, 2014
Playing on their home floor, #7 LSU beat #2 West Virginia, 76-67 - given home court advantage, it can only be considered a minor upset. But there was some sobering news for LSU as well: senior Jeanne Kenney, the team's assist and three point leader, left the game with concussion symptoms and did not return.
David Hooper of SB Nation's Tennessee site Rocky Top Talk summarized "a game of runs" between the Tennessee Lady Vols and the St. John's Red Storm, highlighting a potentially significant development for the team's future in this postseason and beyond from freshman Mercedes Russell.
Russell is quietly turning into something very good and very not-quiet. A huge block in the second half and some solid passes from the post gave a window into her sophomore season. With a year of strength and conditioning, she's going to fit in juuuuuust fine. She had 9 rebounds on the night - one of her highest totals and third on the team behind Burdick and Harrison (11 each). She also had 3 assists and 2 turnovers - a great night from a freshman post.
This should already have been evident from watching this team in the SEC Tournament, but it bears repeating in light of Hooper's observation: there's a very good chance that we still haven't see this team performing at peak potential this season and that could make things very interesting moving forward.
An interesting analysis from Chris Pendley over at SB Nation's Rocky Top Talk to preview Tennessee's second round matchup against St. John's: which SEC team is most similar to the Red Storm?
Most Similar Team: Texas A&M. It's not a clean match, but Handford's game reminds me of a not-as-good Courtney Walker. Walker and Courtney Williams both love penetration drives. Walker also has a perimeter shot; Handford hasn't hit a three all season. She hasn't even attempted one! Amber Thompson is a decent match with Achiri Ade; like Handford, she doesn't get to play with a Karla Gilbert comparable.
The other place where this might not be a clean match was one of the keys to the Lady Vols beating the Aggies earlier this season: the Red Storm are a significantly better three point shooting team at 34.3% for the season.
To discuss the game with other Lady Vols fans, check out the preview and game thread over at SB Nation's Rocky Top Talk.
Todd Carton of SB Nation's Testudo Times has offered up a preview of Maryland's second round game against Texas, highlighting what could be an important similarity between the two teams worth watching for.
In the Brenda Frese era, Maryland has traditionally been one of the nation's best rebounding teams and this season has been no exception. Both Maryland and Texas had huge margins Sunday against over matched squads. However, they will find challenge each other on Tuesday. The Longhorns on the boards average 11.6 more rebounds than their opponents nearly the same as Maryland's 11.8 rebounding margin. "We have to come out and battle on the inside," said Alicia DeVaughn. "They're a big, huge team compared to us. We just can't fall mentally for that. We've just go to come out and play and be physical."
Ultimately, playing at home and having Alyssa Thomas should give Maryland an edge: their only two losses at the Comcast Center are to Notre Dame and UConn.
"I haven't been in the women's game that long. I came from the men's side. I coached the number two pick in the NBA draft, Rik Smits in college. She is one of the best players I have ever seen. In terms of her instincts, her ability. What an unbelievable nose for the ball. Just tremendous. She's so good in person. I knew she was good watching her on tape but I hadn't seen her live before. So that was in some ways a treat as a basketball person. It wasn't a lot of fun for these guys [indicating his players]. She's just unbelievable. But we did a pretty good job I thought of keeping her in front of us. We forced her into a couple of tough shots. We doubled her whenever we could. But to her credit, she had four assists. She found people. She's so unselfish. And she still goes for a double double."From "Ferocious defense and hot shooting propelled Terps past Army 90-52" via Todd Carton of SB Nation's Testudo Times.
#1 Lady Volunteers from Tennessee had no trouble in their opening round game and are ready to take on the challenge of the Red Storm
Alyssa Thomas made more history yesterday when the 6-foot-2 senior became the basketball program's - men's and women's - all-time leading scorer in Maryland's 90-52 rout of Army in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Pete Volk of SB Nation's Maryland site Testudo Times has more on the milestone.
With a free throw in the first half of Maryland's first round NCAA Tournament game against Army, senior forward Alyssa Thomas has passed Juan Dixon's school record of 2,269 points, becoming the all-time leading scorer in Terrapin history.
Thomas broke the scoring record during a 29-2 run to end the first half.
For more on the game, check out Volk's recap at Testudo Times.
While Tennessee is the favorite to win region, don't sleep on West Virginia and Louisville
Queenie made an appearance on Dave Zirin's Edge of Sports Radio show to discuss the 2014 NCAA women's basketball tournament and predicted Notre Dame to win it all.
There's no shortage of pride deep in the heart of Texas.
Might want to box out Ty Marshall, if you get a chance.
With a SOS like that, the Bayou Bengals come in battle-tested.
The point guard makes everything go for this squad.
Oh, my Johnnies.
An experienced team that made some noise in the Big 12 this season.
Where SOS happens.
Rising through a tight knot in the Southland.
A triumphant return.
You're not supposed to expect Vandals, but yet we do.
There's a new breed in the Ivy, and the Tigers no longer roar.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell provided Tennessee with some "bulletin board material" for their 2014 SEC Tournament matchup without even saying a word.
Running with the big dogs.
Upstarts threatened Marist this year, but the MAAC mommas reign supreme once more.
The biggest surprise of the BCS so far- for once, Trojans are the ones springing the ambush, not taken in by it.
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