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Post Lady Dogs struggling

Tuesday December 20, 2005

Temple had lost two straight to Florida and Stony Brook. The only way I’m familiar with Stony Brook is that it’s on the Long Island RailRoad right after the Port Jeff station, so we’d go by it all the time on our way into NYC.

Anyway, Temple got it together after some time off and beat Georgia in Philly on a buzzer-beating three-pointer in overtime.

Usually talk turns to Georgia’s frontcourt, but this was an all-around loss. On offense, the guards were ineffective, especially from outside. On the boards, Georgia was outrebounded. We know that teams are going to pack in on Humphrey. Despite that, Tasha had another incredible game. But that strategy also creates chances outside for the guards, and they did a poor job Monday shooting in the 20s from outside.

On defense, Georgia’s 2-3 zone was supposed to force the game outside, where Temple is weak. The result was a game to Temple’s liking – low-scoring and played in the halfcourt. Georgia was deadly when they could force turnovers (points off turnovers was about 10-0 in favor of Georgia), but the passive nature of the zone kept those transition chances down. Besides that, Temple’s top two scorers were post players, so the zone wasn’t as effective as hoped. Temple had decent success penetrating the zone and passing.

Where to begin? It was certainly not the best night for the guards. It’s said that Humphrey’s play controls the fortunes of the team, but it remains more accurate that the team will play as its senior guards do. The Lady Dogs have survived slow nights from Humphrey, but they have not overcome outages from the guards. Kendrick, battling an ankle injury, was ineffective and did not score from the floor. Baker, with a sprained knuckle, was 6-18 from the floor. The two combined for four assists and seven turnovers, and they were a non-factor from the perimeter.

Georgia’s last offensive series was telling. Georgia had the ball in a tie game with about 4 seconds separating the shot and game clock. Humphrey had been dominant in the second half, and Temple’s top two post players had fouled out. So of course Humphrey doesn’t touch the ball. Instead, Kendrick, who had not made a field goal from the floor all night, tries to drive the baseline and is denied with well over ten seconds remaining for Temple to set up the winning shot.

I like that Kendrick wants the ball. Against Santa Clara earlier in the season, she had another rough night but sunk a dead-on runner at the buzzer for her only field goal of the night to win the game. You want your senior point guard to have that confidence. But you also expect the senior to recognize the situation and, given time and a chance to set up an offensive play, find the hot hand instead of freelancing and rushing the shot. You also expect her coach to emphasize that point.

Cori Chambers and Megan Darrah are in tough spots. Both were planning on doing damage from the wing this year, and they find themselves defacto post players. Darrah especially is challenged. She has been placed in the power forward position, and she is having a tough time getting rebounds and defending the post. But there are no other options – Bostice can only give a few minutes, and the light hasn’t come on for freshman Danielle Taylor yet.

With all that was deficient last night, we were still in overtime with a Top 25 team on their court. That tiny moral consolation isn’t much, especially when contrasted with the hopes for this season. Still, we know this team can do some nice things. It reminds me of the 2004 men’s team – there was a solid starting lineup good enough to beat a Final Four Tech team and UK twice but which also lost several games it should have won because the margin of error was so slight. The Lady Dogs have more relative talent in the lineup than that men’s team, so they should win more games and make the tournament, but there are going to be some more nights like the Temple loss ahead, especially with the tough SEC this season.

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