Mar 31, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; The Louisville Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Baylor Lady Bears during the semifinals of the Oklahoma City regional of the 2013 NCAA womens basketball tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Cardinals beat the Lady Bears 82-81. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Future Looks Bright For Louisville Women

Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, and what many are calling the greatest upset in the history of women’s basketball, it is hard to imagine that The University of Louisville could fare much better in the upcoming season. But that is exactly what coach Jeff Walz and the Lady Cards are looking to do as they try to return to the Final Four in 2014.
Heading into the 2012-2013 season, expectations were pretty high for the Cards, but those quickly tempered before the season got under way as they were hampered by two key injuries. Tia Gibbs, a junior, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury just four minutes into the 2011-2012 season. Gibbs was the third returning leading scorer and led the team with 95 steals in 2010-2011, but never got to see the floor this past season after undergoing hip surgery this year. Asia Taylor, who started 20 games in the 2011-2012 season, also never saw the floor this year after she underwent hip surgery before the season began. Taylor, a senior, has applied for a medical redshirt in hopes of returning for one more season with the Lady Cards.
The injury bug continued into the season as Shawnta’ Dyer, one of the most consistent players on the team, tore her ACL in practice during mid-December. Dyer started all eleven games prior to her injury and was a leader on both the offensive and defensive ends.
All three ladies look to return at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season and make significant contributions for the Cards.
The best news is that Louisville only loses two players from last year’s runner-up campaign. Shelby Harper played limited minutes off the bench and will graduate. Monique Reid was a great contributor for four years but struggled with knee injuries her entire senior season. Reid’s leadership and toughness will be missed but the Cards made it to the title game with minimal contributions off the bench from Reed throughout their tournament run.
Returning alongside Gibbs, Dyer, and Taylor will be the entire starting line-up from the NCAA tournament. Shoni Schimmel, Bria Smith, and Antonita Slaughter return in the backcourt along with Sherrone Vails and Sara Hammond in the front court. Jude Schimmel, Cortnee Walton, and Megan Deines will be very valuable players off the bench. That is eleven players coming back next year with at least one year of experience.
Also, coming in this season, will be a very talented freshman class. Emmonnie Henderson is the stand out player in this year’s recruiting class. Henderson is a talented 6’1” wing that could contribute right away in 2013-14. According to many scouts, she is very gifted around the basket and excels at attacking the rim. Henderson could be exactly what Louisville needs to fill the void of Monique Reid.
Joining Henderson will be Starr Breedlove and Janelle Cannon. Breedlove is a small 5’6” point guard who is extremely quick and is excellent at attacking and distributing the ball. She could be a great replacement in the coming years for Shoni Schimmel. Rounding out the class is JUCO transfer Janelle Cannon. Cannon is considered one of the best junior college players in the country and really knows how to stuff a stat sheet. She averaged nearly 19 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.5 steals per game this past season for Southwest Illinois College.
With the addition of some great young players combined with the experience of the returning line-up, the future could be very bright for the Lady Cards.

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