Schimmel sisters unite, push Cards to the Final Four

siblings made a leap to come to Louisville

Associated PressApril 4, 2013 

  • Women's Final Four

    At New Orleans Arena

    Sunday's semifinals

    6:30 p.m. — Louisville (28-8) vs. California (32-3)

    8:30 p.m. — Notre Dame (35-1) vs. Connecticut (33-4)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Jude Schimmel used to tell her older sister, Shoni, she didn't want to play basketball at the same college as her.

The two pictured themselves living out a sibling rivalry like the ones on Disney Channel shows they grew up watching in Oregon, competing against each other with bragging rights on the line.

Except that's not the way it turned out. As the sport of women's basketball is finding out, they're so much better together.

United at Louisville, the Schimmel sisters have guided the Cardinals on an unexpected Final Four run, knocking off Brittney Griner and top-ranked Baylor in a stunner and then eight-time national champion Tennessee to earn a trip to New Orleans.

They'll take on California in the national semifinals Sunday.

"I tricked her," said Jude, a sophomore and one year behind her sister. "I was really going to go to the school she went to."

The Cardinals couldn't be happier she did.

Shoni has been the star of the show, earning most outstanding player honors in the Oklahoma City regional with her combination of accurate 3-point shooting and fearless drives to the basket. Maybe most memorably, she went right at Griner — the 6-foot-8 Baylor star who counts the NCAA blocks record among her many career achievements — and went airborne, spun with her back to the basket and sunk an over-her-head shot while getting fouled.

Jude has made key contributions as Louisville's top reserve, scoring 15 points — behind only her sister's 24 — in the upset of Tennessee.

"Those Schimmel sisters are the most exciting players in the country right now," said Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who has led his own team to the Final Four again on the opposite side of the bracket.

"The road those kids traveled and where they are and no one knows their story probably," he said. "... The fearlessness that they play with, they love the game and you can tell they love the game. They are tough kids."

The Schimmels, two of seven siblings, grew up in Mission, Ore., on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Shoni was the breakout star, attracting the attention of Louisville coach Jeff Walz and assistant Steph Norman.

"Obviously, Shoni was a year older and Shoni was the one that got all the press, all the pub. But we both really liked how Jude competed," Walz said. "I mean, she was kind of a little bit everywhere. She's a pest. She'll get out there and guard you and knock down some shots."

They decided to not just go after Shoni, but both.

"I'm really excited for both of them because they both, I think, made a big jump to come to Louisville, to come so far away from home, because it's not the norm," Walz said.

Women's Final Four

At New Orleans Arena

Sunday's semifinals

6:30 p.m. — Louisville (28-8) vs. California (32-3)

8:30 p.m. — Notre Dame (35-1) vs. Connecticut (33-4)

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