- Charlie Creme, Women's College Basketball
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Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
The best part of Shoni Schimmel's game is her confidence. The worst part of Shoni Schimmel's game is her confidence.
She fears no one (cue video of her drive right at Brittney Griner and subsequent woofing in last March's Sweet 16 upset of Baylor) nor any situation on the court. She believes anything is possible.
The problem is, sometimes it's not. The Louisville senior's turnovers and forced shots sometimes overshadow her brilliance. Schimmel can be exhilarating and maddening all in one possession, let alone in a single game.
Fortunately, the confidence Louisville coach Jeff Walz has in her is almost as great as the confidence Schimmel has in herself. It paid off last season in a trip to the national championship game. It is paying off this season with the Cardinals (20-1) ranked in the top five and battling for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed.
And this week, it also paid off with Schimmel winning espnW national player of the week honors.
Those maddening moments are harder to find in Schimmel's game in her senior season, and they were nearly undetectable in wins this past week over Houston and Memphis. She averaged 27 points and just three turnovers in 30 minutes per game. The Cardinals won both in blowouts, shaking off typically slow starts in each.
Shooting 9-of-14 from the field, 7-of-11 from 3-point range and adding eight rebounds and five assists Tuesday against the Cougars, Schimmel was about as good and efficient as it gets -- or so it appeared.
Sunday was even better. Having missed her first four shots, Schimmel went to the bench with 11:41 left and spent the next 3½ minutes reminding herself that she is a better player than that. When she returned to the floor, Schimmel made six 3-pointers in the next four minutes, and Louisville blew the game open. Before the first half horn sounded, she made eight consecutive 3-pointers in roughly eight minutes. Schimmel finished with 29 points, making a school-record nine 3-pointers on 12 attempts.
The scoring was another brilliant Schimmel moment. But the efficiency was most impressive, and evolved.
As Walz remarked after the game, that type of scoring night from Schimmel typically would have meant 20 to 25 shots. Sunday, she needed just 16 (10-of-16).
Schimmel's field goal percentage has increased from 35.3 as a sophomore to 39 percent last season to 42.3 percent this season. Her 3-point percentages have also increased (29.9 percent two seasons ago, 33 percent last year and 41 percent in 2013-14).
And on a day like Sunday, Schimmel's brilliance didn't come with a caveat.
Also nominated: Ariya Crook, Southern California; Tricia Liston, Duke; Kayla McBride, Notre Dame.
15dBonnie D. Ford