The sensational Schimmel Show, sweeping the nation, is amping up as we approach Sunday night's national semifinal, pitting Louisville against Cal. Defying the odds, the united Schimmel sisters, Shoni and Jude, from the Umatilla rez in Oregon, are captivating sports fans as they propel the Cardinals towards a national title. Here is a round-up of what's going down with the sisters as they stave off the euphoria and prep for the biggest game of their young careers.
UConn’s Bria Hartley Knew Louisville Would Battle, but Win?
“You’re surprised because it was against Baylor and Baylor has been so dominant,” star UConn player Bria Hartley told the Journal Inquirer. “But every time we play Louisville, it’s not easy. They go out there and play really hard. A lot of their players play with a lot of heart and Shoni Schimmel is the leader of that.”
Schimmel’s best play was her second-half reverse layup while being fouled by Baylor’s Brittney Griner. And the 5-foot-9 Schimmel let the 6-8 Griner know about it.
What did Hartley think of the reaction?
“Shoni made a good play,” she said with a laugh.
(The UConn women, a perennial powerhouse, meet Notre Dame on Sunday, April 7, in the other Final Four matchup.)
Speaking of the Umatilla Thrilla…
In what may be the defining moment of the tournament, Shoni goes around Baylor's 6'8" Brittney Griner, the NCAA's all-time leading shot-blocker, and drains the the shot in a scintillating move. And she draws the foul.
Failure Is Not an Option
Louisville is making its second trip to the Final Four in five years after the Cardinals lost to Connecticut in the 2009 national title game.
"All or nothing," Shoni said. "Nobody wanted to see us win. Nobody wanted to see us beat Baylor and nobody wanted to see us beat Tennessee Now, we're going to a Final Four."
The Umatilla Thrilla or Pistol Pete?
The Cards backed up their historic takedown of the Bears with a more impressive, 86-78, thumping of the Vols Tuesday night. NBA All-Star Kevin Durant used an in-game interview on ESPN to talk about how much he loved the way Walz coached his team. Shoni Schimmel played like Pete Maravich, says WDRB.com’s Rick Bozich.
“It’s Going to Get Wild.”
Keeping basketball fans and the general public as safe as possible in Louisville during the Final Four is the goal for University of Louisville Police and Louisville Metro Police after fans in Lexington partied a little too hard last year, reports Connie Leonard of WAVE 3, Louiville's NBC affiliate. Last year, Lexington Police had their hands full when Wildcat fans poured into the streets after the University of Kentucky men’s team won the National Championship. Police say a few of those students turned into arsonists.
"It's going to get wild," said Cole Keller, a U of L student, of a possible party on campus this weekend, "this area always gets pretty crazy!"
Police say they are proud of both the U of L men's and women's teams and understand celebrating, as long as it's safe. So, will they behave?
"I don't know," smiled Shoni, a guard on the U of L women's team. "It's exciting because we know our fans are behind us," she said, "Not only the girls, but also the men so, for our fans to be supportive about us, it's great."
"Hopefully, we act with a little bit of responsibility," Keller added, "but you can't make any promises."
(Louisville is only the 10th school to have both its men's and women's teams reach the Final Four in the same season. Students being students, expect exuberant mayhem.)
While channeling her inner Professor, Schimmel, Franklin High’s 5-9 senior point guard, pushes a three-on-two fast break, brings the ball around her back twice and finishes with a right-handed sling pass to her sister Jude—a fundamentally sound 5-6 junior guard—cutting in from her left for a layup. The air fills with oohs andahhs. But for Shoni, it is basically another play in a basketball game.
“I kind of go with the flow,” says the 17-year-old Schimmel, who ranks as one of the top prospects in the country and is considering offers from Oregon, Louisville, UCLA, California, Rutgers and Oklahoma, while Colorado, Michigan State, Washington and South Carolina remain options.
Finally, on a more serious note, here's a video of Young Grey Horse Singers, from the Blackfeet Nation, performing an honor song during halftime of a Cardinals game.
The Louisville Cardinals take on the California Golden Bears Sunday, April 7, at 6:30 pm/ET for a spot in the 2013 NCAA women's national championship game. ESPN will carry the game (check your local listings).