Heading into Paradise Island, the Cardinals were undefeated and ranked as an AP Top Ten team. Expectations were high for Jeff Walz and company this season as they looked to replicate their Final Four trip from last year.
Before the season started, there was discussion that bettors should take a flyer on Louisville to win the National Championship at +2000 because this team has a lot of talent. The hype surrounding this team was sky high to enter the season and even through the first three weeks of the season.
However, their road to the Final Four hit its first bump in the road suffering a loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in their opening game as a part of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
The Cardinals were in it until overtime when the Zags outscored them 18-6 and put the game away. Hailey Van Lith led the team with 45 minutes of gameplay and that trend would continue throughout the rest of the tournament.
After their loss to Gonzaga, Louisville bounced back with a win over the Texas Longhorns securing the victory 71-63. Hailey Van Lith was the workhorse for the Cardinals again leading the team with 39 minutes of total gameplay. She finished that game tied with 18 points, which tied with her teammate Morgan Jones. Syracuse transfer Chrislyn Carr led the team with 19 points in 36 minutes of gameplay.
Hoping to build off their excitement with this win, Louisville went into their third and final matchup against South Dakota State and suffered their second defeat of the season finishing the game with only 55 points.
The Jackrabbits finished with 65 team points led by redshirt senior Myah Selland with 25 points. Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith outscored her with 26 points in 40 minutes of gameplay, which led the Cardinals in minutes played.
In the post-game press conference, Coach Jeff Walz described this team as Jekyll and Hyde. One game the entire team is in rhythm and they have great chemistry and the next game they play individual basketball and fail to communicate on the court.
On that note, Coach Walz credited their loss to the Jackrabbits with a failure to execute and a failure to communicate. Communication is imperative in a team sport like basketball so when it is an issue in the entire locker room then the play on the court will suffer because of it.
Failure to communicate seems to be a cultural issue across the men’s and women’s basketball programs because in the post-game press conference after the Texas Tech game, forward JJ Traynor labeled that as an issue in their loss as well.