#6 Louisville Women's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

Louisville Cardinals
Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #2 ACC
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Four the fourth season in a row, Louisville won at least a share of the ACC regular season title. In each of those four seasons they have also finished the campaign with just three or four losses. Since joining the ACC, Coach Jeff Walz has kept the Cardinals right towards the top of the conference pecking order and that will not change in 2021-2022. However, losing Dana Evans, the 13th overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft, is a concern.
2020-21 Record: 26-4, 14-2
2020-21 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jeff Walz
Coach Record: 386-107 at Louisville, 306-107 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Dana Evans, Guard, 20.1 ppg
Elizabeth Balogun, Guard, 5.8 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Kianna Smith, Senior, Guard, 11.4 ppg
Hailey Van Lith, Sophomore, Guard, 11.2 ppg
Olivia Cochran, Sophomore, Forward, 9.9 ppg
Liz Dixon, Senior, Forward, 7.6 ppg
Norika Konno, Junior, Guard, 3.4 ppg
Ahlana Smith, Senior, Guard, 2.8 ppg
Ramani Parker, Sophomore, Forward, 2.7 ppg
Mykasa Robinson, Senior, Guard, 2.6 ppg
Merissah Russell, Sophomore, Guard, 2.2 ppg
Key New Players
Emily Engstler, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Syracuse
Chelsie Hall, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Vanderbilt
Alexia Mobley, Freshman, Forward
Sydni Schetnan, Freshman, Forward
Payton Verhulst, Freshman, Guard
In an effort to replace the passing and scoring of Evans, Coach Walz went to Vanderbilt and picked up Chelsie Hall. In her last season with the Commodores in 2019-2020, Hall averaged 10.6 points and 3.9 assists. Hall will not have to pick up all of the backcourt scoring slack though. Kianna Smith is an experienced senior who is the team’s top returning scorer at 11.4 points per game and sophomore Hailey Van Lith is poised for an even bigger season after starting all 30 games as a freshman. Both are great outside shooters and Van Lith started to show some flashes of becoming an all-around scoring threat by attacking the basket. The frontcourt returns Olivia Cochran, who averaged 9.9 points and a team high 6.9 rebounds. Senior Liz Dixon is a proven option in the paint as well and averaged 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. Dixon could step into a full-time starting job this season, but she will have competition from Syracuse transfer Emily Engstler. She averaged 10.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks with the Orange a season ago. Regardless of who is starting, the Cardinals have quality options in the frontcourt. Their success will likely depend on the play of the backcourt and if Smith, Van Lith and Hall are ready to replace the leadership, scoring and passing provided by Evans.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.8 (20th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 60.7 (78, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.1 (16, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.0 (40, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.5 (56, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.3 (39, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 78.8 (8, 1)
Rebound Margin: 3.5 (77, 5)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (67, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.0 (14, 1)
Madness 2021 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#12 Payton Verhulst
#117 Sydni Schetnan