Friday, January 22, 2010

Nothing wrong with ODU's defense

ODU may be erratic on offense, but there's been little to complain about the Lady Monarchs on defense in CAA play, particularly against teams focused around one elite player. The Lady Monarchs' philosophy seems to be make it tough on the superstar and shut down everyone else. So far, ODU has executed this style to a T (everywhere except in Boston):

Delaware - Elena Delle Donne gets 28, but second-leading scorer Tesia Harris (12.2 ppg) managed just 9 on 4-of-12 shooting. The Blue Hens' other three starters combined for 5 points.

Drexel - Gabriela Marginean goes for 33 but needs 24 shots. Meanwhile, third-leading scorer Jasmina Rosseel gets her average (11) but shoots just 2 of 12 from the field. Drexel's other three starters combine for 8 points. (Drexel's second-leading scorer, Kamile Nacickaite, sat out the game with an injury).

JMU - Dawn Evans scores 22 points but takes 28 shots. Tarik Hislop and Sarah Williams come in averaging a combined 21 points and get that exactly against ODU. But the duo made just 8 of 26 shots. And JMU dished out just 6 assists, about half their average.

Georgia State - Danyiell McKeller scores 22 points but takes 23 shots. Second-leading scorer Angelique Burtts (10.2 ppg) finishes with just 6. Crystal Johnson, the CAA's assist leader, has two assists and seven turnovers.

Naturally, ODU players deserve most of the credit for shutting people down. But it's also a tribute to the ODU coaching staff, which seems to be doing an excellent job of breaking down CAA foes, instructing the players on how to take away much of what these teams like to do and forcing the superstars outside of their comfort zone while trying to take matters into their own hands.

* Georgia State took on ODU without sophomore guard Jylisa Williams, who was dismissed from the team on Wednesday, according to the Panthers' official web site. No reason was given for the move. A CAA All-Rookie team selection last year, Williams was the Panthers' fourth-leading scorer (7.3 ppg) but had averaged 17.5 points in her last two games and was less than a week removed from a season-high 20-point effort against VCU. The dismissal ended a rocky sophomore season for Williams, who sat out the first semester and wound up appearing in just 11 games. By the way, Williams led all CAA freshman in scoring last season with 314 points in 32 games. In 15 games this season, Delaware's Delle Donne already has 379 points.

* Speaking of Delle Donne, check out this video of the game-winning shot by VCU's D'Andra Moss. Doesn't it look like Delle Donne is the one who gets caught in the wash and allows Moss a clean look at the basket? This much is for certain - somebody blew it and left VCU's best player all alone with the game on the line. "I believe in these young kids. We just need to get our heads on straight and follow instructions at the end of games and we wouldn't have heartbreaking losses like this," Delaware coach Tina Martin told the News-Journal's Kevin Tresolini. "We had the breakdown at the worst time." Perhaps the Blue Hens simply assumed a 3 from Moss would be the last thing on VCU's mind. After all, the Rams only needed a two to tie and Moss hadn't exactly been feeling it (6 of 24 from the field, 1 of 7 from 3) all night.

* Taysha Pye and Tiffany Benson combined to hit just 4 of 16 free throws against Hofstra and, since they make the most trips to the line, are clearly the two biggest reasons why the Tribe has spent the season ranked among the 10 worst free-throw shooting teams in Division I. But W&M's problems at the line extend beyond those two. If Pye and Benson had never attempted a free throw this season, the Tribe would still be averaging a below-average 64.3 percent, a figure which would place them in the 250s among the 325 D-I teams.

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