LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – I’ve heard the observation quite a few times in recent weeks. “You’re covering a lot of women’s basketball this year.”
If you happened to be watching ESPN between 7 and 9 Thursday night, or were one of the 12,614 in the KFC Yum! Center for the University of Louisville’s 100-67 demolition of No. 2-ranked Notre Dame, you saw why.
Notre Dame, it must be admitted, wasn’t itself. Depleted to seven scholarship players by injury, the Fighting Irish are wounded. They’re also just one player removed from a team that lost by only nine at No. 1 Connecticut earlier this season. Notre Dame had lost just two ACC games in four-plus seasons before Thursday night, and hadn’t given up 100 in a game in 20 years.
And their veteran coach did not hesitate to describe what she saw at the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday night, after watching Asia Durr score 36 points and Myisha Hines-Allen 31.
“I thought Louisville looked like the best team in the country tonight,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “They came out ready tonight. They gave us a knockout punch and we got knocked out in the first quarter. . . . Asia Durr played like the best player in the country . . . and we’ve played Connecticut, South (Carolina).”
McGraw has some credentials. But don’t expect Louisville coach Jeff Walz to take that bait, even after posting what likely was the most impressive win of the 2017-18 women’s college basketball season to date, and extending the longest winning streak in program history (and longest active streak in the nation) to 19 games.
“No,” Walz said. “I’ll leave that to UConn. That’s one of those, you don’t want to poke a bear. Especially one like that (Louisville will play at UConn on Feb. 12). You know what? I’ve watched them on film, they’re fantastic. I’m really proud of how we’re playing right now. But I’ve said it all along, it’s these young women, and our locker room really is amazing.”
Louisville has depth. Walz, let’s not forget, has six McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster. Three of them start, three come off the bench. He has recruited high school players of the year from four states: Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Colorado. Even with Notre Dame depleted, Louisville’s bench saw just 31 minutes Thursday. Notre Dame’s 28. Bench scoring was 7-4 in favor of Louisville. In that sense, it was not a typical game for the Cardinals.
Walz said he understood that some on the bench wanted to…