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My notes on the WOT vs. Western Michigan game

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  • My notes on the WOT vs. Western Michigan game

    Welcome to a pretty empty Galen Center, I think there were maybe 100 people there when they did the national anthem 10 minutes before tipoff. No band, no song girls, no students, no Spirit Squad --turns out they were all over at the Conquest event on the McCarthy quad, headlined by Rap/Hip-Hop producer Kenny Beats and featuring several of his 'friends'. The football rally for the rivalry game is major part of the event and the team looks loose and ready to perform (fingers crossed).

    The women emerge from the locker room to a small crowd that would be announced at 415, I think Coach Gottlieb was a little confused about why the fans did not turn out, like in the first game, she likely didn't realize that Conquest was taking place at the same time. This feeling will probably be duplicated Saturday with a game against a good Missouri State team, which was unfortunately scheduled for 2 pm, an hour after the USC-UCLA football game kicks-off at the Coliseum.

    The starting lineup for the Trojans was: Jordyn Jenkins, Jordan Sanders, Angel Jackson, Tera Reed and Desiree Caldwell. Alissa Pili is not dressed out, with an injury described as day to day.

    The WOT got off to a very slow start and find themselves down 10 early to a WMU team that starts out hitting several 3-ptrs. The zone defense the Trojans' are running is not working and consistently leaves players open in the corners for open shots. This was an issue the previous game I watched against Hawaii, as well. After trailing 21-13 after the first quarter, Lindsay smartly switched to a man-to-man defense against the undersized Broncos and this stemmed the tide for SC, who outscored WMU 19-4 in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 32-25 lead.

    The third quarter was more even, but SC increased their lead in the quarter by 6 pts, to go into the final frame up 59-46. In the fourth quarter SC outscored WMU 21-4 to end the game with a 30-pt victory 80-50. In all three games the WOT have held the opposition to 50 or fewer points, they will win a lot of games if they keep that up.

    SC shot 54% FGs, 54.5% 3FGs (6-11) and 76.9% FTs (20-26). They limited WMU to 30.5% FGs, 27.6% 3FGs (8-29) and 60% FTs (6-10). The owned the boards, outrebounding the smaller Broncos 48-17, including notching 12 offensive rebs. They had a big edge in points in the paint, scoring 38 to 18 for the Broncos. The negatives were the WOT turning the ball over 22 times (compared to 13 for WMU) and having just 4 steals, while the Broncos grabbed 8 steals.

    There were two stars in this game, Jordyn Jenkins who did most of her damage in the first half on the way to a game high 17 points and Alyson Miura, who made an impressive season debut (previously out with a right leg injury) scoring 14 points in 14 minutes. When she was first inserted into the lineup, she got the ball down on the opponents baseline and aggressively drove in for a lay-up off glass. After this she went to her long-range game and knocked down a career high 4 3-ptrs. She has such a quick release and no fear. I may be dating myself, but I was reminded of Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson from the Detroit Pistons teams in the 80's, where Vinnie earned his nickname from providing "instant offense" and scoring points in bunches from long range, as one of the top sixth men in the NBA. Miura can light it up and I hope she sees the court early and often in future games. She is more of a SG, but can play the point, which is a nice luxury for a team that desperately needs to make an impact at the PG position.

    Desi Caldwell is an enthusiastic, talkative leader on the floor, and is a team captain, (along with Pili and Reed), but she just doesn't score. In a team high 34 minutes, she was 0-3 FGs, 2-4 FTs for a measly 2 points. She did have 5 rebs and 5 assists. She makes you remember how good Endyia Rogers was, or Minyon Moore, or Camille Lenoir or a long line of PGs going back to Rhonda Windham on the National Championship Teams. The PG position has never been so weak for SC.

    Guard play in general has to improve, Kyra White did not have a strong game, she once again is reluctant to shoot the ball and passed up several open shot opportunities. She did not record a shot in her 16 minutes on the floor, but did have 5 rebs, 2 assists and 1 block. She uncharacteristically turned the ball over on back to back possessions once while driving up the right sideline before midcourt and passing the ball to Desi who was just ahead of her on the right sideline and was not expecting a pass at that instant and from that spot, so the ball bounced off of her and went out of bounds. The next time down the court Kyra tried to throw a pass to a runner ahead of the pack and threw it out of bounds over the end line. She had 3 TOs overall.

    Turnovers similar to that with long passes being forced and going out of bounds happened several more times as turnovers were generally an issue for the WOT. Four players had 3 TOs and 3 had 2 TOs each. They need to play smarter and take care of the ball. They can get away with it against inferior competition, but better opponents will make them pay. WMU converted the 22 TOs into only 12 points. SC scored 16 points off the Broncos 13 TOs.

    Bella Perkins played only 7 minutes, mostly in backing up Desi at the PG and looked a little out of control, which resulted in 3 TOs in that sport timespan. She did pick up an assist and scored 2 pts. She was not as smooth or effective as in the game against Hawaii. She needs more PT to develop and I feel those minutes should come at Desi's expense. I see Bella as the future starting PG for this team.

    Rayah Marshall played 25 minutes off the bench and scored 12 points (6-9 FGs, 0-1 FT), had 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks and took care of the ball (1 TO). She seems to be able to take the ball to the hoop at will, with a combination of size and quickness. She has a nose for the ball and is just a quality player. She should be fed the ball more by her teammates.

    Tera Reed started and immediately drilled a 3, for SC's first points of the game. Early foul trouble resulted in her playing only 17 minutes in the game, but she still managed to knock down both of her 3-pt attempts and score 8 pts (3-4 FGs), with 2 assists and 1 block. However, she was one of the players that turned the ball over 3 times.

    Angel Jackson started at center and led the team with 9 rebounds in her 20 minutes, with an assist and a block and, importantly for her, she stayed out of foul trouble with only 1 PF. She scored 8 points on 2-4 FGs and 4-6 FTs. Her backup 6'6" frosh Clarice Akunwafo logged 14 minutes scoring 6 pts (2-3 FGs, 2-2 FTs), with 4 rebs, and 1 assist. She has decent post moves and is not intimidated, but needs to improve her quickness in moving her feet to defend players. She is very early in her career and learns something new each time out. She will be counted on to produce more in future games.

    Jordan Sanders managed to get into double figures with 11 pts, but the shots were not falling for her. She was only 2-9 FGs, but was 7-8 on her FTs. She grabbed 4 rebs, had 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. She is usually the team's most reliable scorer and she got good looks, but did not knock them down. Nothing to worry about, as she will be back to her normal self soon. Perhaps in the next game against Missouri State.

    Madison Campbell (6 minutes), Amaya Oliver (3 minutes) and India Otto (1 minute) were held scoreless, with 1 shot attempt each.

    The Missouri State Bears come into the Galen Center with a record of 2-1, with wins over Little Rock and North Texas and a 4-pt loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. They are traditionally a strong program, having won 29 conference championships, making 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, playing in 2 Final Fours (1992, 2001) and winning the WNIT in 2005. Missouri State is 75-11 overall since Dec. 20, 2018, ranking seventh nationally in total wins since that date and fourth in win percentage (.872), trailing only Baylor, UConn and FGCU. Five teams ahead of the Lady Bears on the wins list have been ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll over that span. Defense is their forte, they are currently the second best 3-pt defense in the nation, giving up only 9.4% made 3-ptrs. They are giving up 52 ppg and blocking 6 shots per game. Their star player is Jasmine Franklin who is 3 points shy of the 1000 mark in her career and is coming off a week in which she was named MVC Player of the Week.

    The all-time series between USC and Missouri State stands at 1-1, both games on neutral courts. The last meeting in 2016, saw the Trojans winning 89-67. I would say get out to Galen for this game, but I will not be there myself. I will be in the Coliseum hoping and praying that SC can beat the cross-town rivals and give a moment of joy to a fanbase that has not had much to cheer about.

    Fight on Everyone!