WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Cardinals fall in first road game of season
Carter leads team with 12 points in 74-55 loss to Wright State
Staring at an 0-2 record wasn't what coach Kelly Packard anticipated as her team began the 2011-12 season. Ball State, who lost its season opener to Illinois State 63-52 on Friday, was dealt another setback Sunday, losing by double figures at Wright State.
Packard, who said her team has gotten off on the wrong foot, isn't panicking. In fact, she's optimistic.
"It's not where we wanted to be," she said. "But at the same time, I'm not going to lead this team, my staff or myself to believe that [this is] the picture we're painting for this season."
Before the season began, the Cardinals were already up against a tough challenge. The team's youth is glaring. With eight underclassmen, including four freshmen and four sophomores, Packard is still trying to mix and match her roster.
Against Wright State, the Cardinals started freshmen Brittany Carter and Shelbie Justice, sophomores Katie Murphy and Brandy Woody and senior co-captain Amber Crago.
Carter, who has started both games for the Cardinals, has turned in a pair of noteworthy outings. She led the team with 12 points against Illinois State and 10 against Wright State.
Carter's offensive abilities are obvious, but Packard said her young guard needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball.
"She's got to be able to grow up faster with her commitment to keeping dribble penetration out of the paint and some of the things that compromise us," Packard said. "But we need to have her on the floor because she's a scorer and fairly mature in the way that she can provide structure offensively. Defensively, I'm going to have to really push her."
The Cardinals have missed the presence of sophomore forward Jazmin Hitchens, who served her second game of a two-game suspension Sunday for violating team rules, Packard said.
"Hopefully, as we see her come back into practice and actually play this coming week; that gives us a different dimension, somebody else that can score," Packard said. "And it'll help with some of the scoring droughts that we seem to have."
Concerns about her team's youth are sometimes overwhelming, but Packard will continue to pursue the formula for success.
"It's going to be journey of this team's youth starting to emerge, which they are," Packard said. "The most difficult thing in that process when you're playing so many young people is that they tend to be fairly inconsistent. The biggest thing I can give this team right now is to not overreact [or say] that we're not solely capable of maturing with each game. That's going to be the most important thing I can do for our program right now."