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March 31, 2014

Focus, preparation key Walz's March success




Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz has his team poised for another possible Final Four after cruising to a 73-47 win over LSU. Louisville is averaging 34 point wins in the three NCAA tournament games, and will host Maryland for a shot at the Final Four Tuesday night.

In seven years under Walz, the Cardinals are 18-5 in the NCAA Tournament with a pair of national title game appearances and five Sweet 16s. They have also provided some major upsets along the way with none bigger than the win over No. 1 Baylor and Brittney Griner last season.

"We like to make sure our kids are mentally and physically prepared to play," Walz said. "Our job as a coaching staff is to put a game plan together and you get that game plan by watching film."

Walz added, "We try to get player tendencies. If you're going to lose you want to make sure that you don't let someone beat you with what they do well. So we like to hopefully make their best players do something they normally don't do if their going to be successful."

Walz seems to find a way to have his team playing the best basketball when it matters most.

"March is the time where he challenges every single one of us in order to play, just to get us going, get us to the best game we can play," Jude Schimmel said. She went on to say that they their success comes from being better prepared than their opponent.

Much has already been said about the run from last year as the "Party Crasher" motto the team embraced. But it is clear to see that this group enjoys that role of having fun and playing loose.

"We kind of have that mentality and that chip on our shoulder that 'We're here to play and we're here to win,' and I think that works for us," junior forward Sara Hammond said. Hammond grinned when she was asked about this years anthem being simply "Party Crashers Part 2".

Senior All-American guard Shoni Schimmel said that the team's mentality is different now. The first 34 games are over, and it's a six game season.

"We just go out there and play every game like its our last because you are not guaranteed another game," said Schimmel.

Whatever the secret formula, Walz and the Cardinals have made the most of March. They established themselves as a regular fixture dancing at "The Party".

"For six games, they let me coach them," Walz said. "I mean, they let me, when they don't do it right at practice, boy, I'm on them. I'm demanding it from them, and you can't do that the entire season."


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