With this year’s trip to the Final Four, every student-athlete that has been at Louisville for four years has experienced a Final Four birth. Louisville has been one of the Nation’s best teams all year long and now, they are among the final four standing. Louisville has been led all tournament by Hailey Van Lith, but it has been a total team effort thus far. Kianna Smith has been solid all tournament, Louisville had four players score more than 10 points vs Gonzaga, Payton Verhulst was huge vs Tennessee off the bench in her hometown, Chelsie Hall had a phenomenal offensive outing in the Elite Eight game, and although Emily Engstler didn’t score a lot she made big plays when needed against Michigan.
Hailey Van Lith
Van Lith has scored over 20 points in every game this tournament, something that not even Asia Durr, Dana Evans, Shoni Schimme, or Angel McCoughtry did. Look for South Carolina to do their best to shut her down or at least slow her down.
During the season South Carolina had 3 players average double figure scoring (Boston, Cooke and Henderson). South Carolina has been ranked #1 the entire year. They have allowed teams to score just 50.1 ppg all season and have an average margin of victory of 20.6 points.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Aliyah Boston (16.8ppg, 14.3rpg)
Victaria Saxton (6.3ppg, 11.5rpg)
Brea Beal (6.3ppg, 2.8rpg)
Zia Cooke (7ppg, 1.6rpg)
Destanni Henderson (10ppg, 2.5rpg)
Chelsie Hall (9.5 ppg, 2.5rpg)
Hailey Van Lith (21.5ppg, 4rpg)
Kianna Smith (12.5ppg, 1.5rpg)
Emily Engstler (13.5ppg, 11rpg)
Olivia Cochran (8.3ppg, 4rpg)
Keys To Victory:
Take Care Of The Ball:
Louisville needs to continue to value the ball each and every possession.
South Carolina’s defense is one of the best in the nation, but they do have their fair share of miscues. Coach Walz is really good at calling out offensive play sets. The Cards have to capitalize on South Carolina’s miscues and on the open shots they get on offense.
It’s no secret tha Boston is the star of the Gamecocks, but Destanni is the player who makes this South Carolina team dangerous. When Destanni is on her game and is allowed to control the pace of game and get others involved, South Carolina is by far the best team in the country. Think of South Carolina as a venomous snake. In order to defeat the snake you must cut the head off. Destanni Henderson is the head of the South Carolina team. Neutralize her and the snake, albeit is still venomous, is just not as dangerous.
Louisville doesn’t have to win the battle of the boards, but it will be nice if they do. What Louisville has to do is be active and consistent on the boards. Louisville can’t allow South Carolina to constantly get multiple offensive rebounds on numerous or key possessions. They have to make sure South Carolina feels their presence in the paint and on the boards. Louisville guards typically do a really good job rebounding. This definitely isn’t the game to take a break on the boards.
Don’t Let The Others Win The Game:
South Carolina is extremely talented, but the star of stars is clearly Aliyah Boston. Aliyah is one of the best players in country for a reason and there probably isn’t a type of defense that she hasn’t seen. If Boston gets hers and Louisville makes life difficult for the rest of the team, Louisville could have a really great chance at a win. Remember the 2003-2004 NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons vs the L.A Lakers? Detroit’s gameplan was to let Shaq get his points, but shutdown everyone else. That gameplan worked and Detroit won the series 4-1. I say Coach Walz should adopt that strategy for one game and see if it works.
These are the two of the best defensive teams left in the tournament. This game will come down to the who can control the flow of the game and limit their turnovers. South Carolina has only allowed 41ppg this tournament, and Louisville has allowed 56ppg. The Cards have to stay out of foul trouble and make good at the charity stripe when they get their chances. Points in the paint will be huge for both teams. Louisville left a lot of points off the board in the Michigan game. That’s a mistake that cannot make tonight vs South Carolina.