By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz admits that his team has "played a lot of junk (defense) all year." In the Cardinals' second-round victory over Purdue, they used a triangle and two.
Walz's next challenge is devising a strategy to slow Baylor's Brittney Griner.
"I'm trying to put six (on the floor)," Walz joked Saturday. "I'm hoping our officials are bad at math ... and we just get 'em real confused."
No. 5 seed Louisville is next up for No. 1 seed Baylor. The Lady Bears are four victories from winning a second consecutive national championship and they'll take on the Cardinals in the Oklahoma City Region semifinals Sunday (6 p.m., ESPN2).
Griner has scored 33 points in each of Baylor's NCAA Tournament victories and is averaging 32 points over her last seven games. If she maintains that pace and the Lady Bears reach the national championship game, she could become the leading scorer in NCAA women's history to go along with her career shot blocking title.
"Instead of getting all concerned about how you are going to stop Brittney Griner from scoring 30, forget it, she's going to," Walz said. "Figure out a way how we can score 70. If we can figure that out, then you might have a chance to get the last five minutes of the ballgame where shots start to matter.
"With the success they've had, it's been a while since a shot's mattered in the last four or five minutes of the game."
Walz has a point that if Griner scores 30, a team's best chance is to limit the other four Baylor players. That's not simple either.
Power forward Williams – starter last season who now comes off the bench - has made two-thirds of her field-goal attempts (38 of 58) in the last eight games. Junior point guard Odyssey Sims has 41 assists and 13 turnovers (seven coming in one game) in the same seven-game span, while the Lady Bears are shooting 57 percent as a team.
Griner had three dunks in Baylor's second round rout of Florida State and has 18 in her career – three more than all of women's college basketball combined.
"Everybody on this team hates to lose. We love to win. That's motivation enough right there," Griner said.
Oklahoma City Regional
No. 1 Baylor (34-1) vs. No. 5 Louisville (26-8)
5:30 p.m. Sunday; Oklahoma City, ESPN2.
Coaches: Kim Mulkey, Baylor; Jeff Walz, Louisville.
Why they're here: Baylor won the automatic bid from the Big 12. The Lady Bears defeated No. 16 Prairie View, 82-40, in the first round and No. 8 Florida State, 85-47. Louisville was an at-large selection from the Big East Conference. The Cardinals defeated No. 12 Middle Tennessee, 74-49, in the first round and No. 4 Purdue, 76-63, in the second round.
Scouting the Lady Bears: Baylor was dominant in its two NCAA victories, outscoring Prairie View and Florida State by 40 points. … The Lady Bears are in the Sweet 16 for the fifth consecutive year and are gunning for their second consecutive national championship. … Over the past seven games, Baylor is shooting .578 from the floor, .392 from 3-point range and .754 from the free throw line. … Brittney Griner averages 24.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. … Baylor is an impressive combination of speed and power, outscoring foes 240-78 in fast break points and has a per-game scoring edge in points in the paint (48.8 points to 17.9 points per game).
Scouting the Cardinals: Don't expect Louisville to be intimidated facing a No. 1 seed. The Cardinals have faced top seeds Notre Dame (twice) and Connecticut (once) and all of their losses have come to NCAA Tournament teams. … Junior Shoni Schimmel leads the team in scoring with nearly 14 points a game. … Louisville likes for its defense to create points, outscoring opponents in points off turnovers in 24 of 34 games. … The Cardinals have lost three players to injuries and Monique Reid is limited in playing time by a nagging knee injury.