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Purdue University

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Purdue star facing former coach

– Louisville coach Jeff Walz has liked Purdue forward Drey Mingo’s game since he recruited her back in high school. Now he hopes she misses every shot against his Cardinals.

That’s because a trip to the Oklahoma City regional semifinals is on the line tonight in the NCAA tournament when Walz and his fifth-seeded Louisville Cardinals host Mingo and No. 4 seed Purdue.

“I love the kid,” Walz said Monday. “I think she’s great. Her family’s great. I hope she misses every shot she takes. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Before the game I’m looking forward to seeing her and saying hi to her. After the game, I’ll give her a big hug and we’ll go from there.”

He successfully recruited Mingo out of high school to Maryland as an assistant coach. When Mingo transferred after two seasons, Walz failed to persuade her to join him in Louisville.

“She ended up at Purdue, and I know she’s been through a lot,” Walz said. “It’s really neat to see the success that she’s had with all the adversity that she’s been dealt.”

Mingo says she had a really close relationship with Walz when deciding to go to Maryland.

“I’m excited to see him” Tuesday, Mingo said. “He’s just a fun guy. The thing that sticks out most to me, and I’ve always made fun of him, was his stutter. He’s going to kill me when he hears that.”

Mingo averages 12.3 points starting every game this season. The Boilermakers also have senior forward Sam Ostarello, who grabbed 17 rebounds in Purdue’s first-round victory. Freshman Taylor Manuel also adds to a strong inside presence to go with guards KK Houser and Courtney Moses.

“It is really impressive to watch them play,” Walz said.

Purdue has won all five games played against Louisville, but these teams last met in 1993. Now the Boilermakers have won five straight trying to advance to their first regional semifinal since 2009. Purdue lost on its own court in the second round a year ago as the No. 4 seed.