WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Team relies on veterans to bring intensity, focus

Senior guard Brandy Woody keeps the ball away from a Pittsburgh player on Nov. 14 at Worthen Arena. Woody had eight points total. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
Senior guard Brandy Woody keeps the ball away from a Pittsburgh player on Nov. 14 at Worthen Arena. Woody had eight points total. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY

Change of pace

First three games

at Purdue 57-63 loss
vs. Pittsburgh 58-63 loss
at Evansville 69-80 loss

Last three games

at Detroit Mercy 80-74 win
Auburn 51-76 loss *
Tennessee Tech 76-64 win *

  • South Point Shootout

After a 0-3 start to the 2013 season, the Ball State women’s basketball team was left to question what it needed to change.

The answer lied in practice. Head coach Brady Sallee said the team was sluggish and lacked focus in its preparation for opponents.

Part of the problem, he said, was getting the team’s five freshmen up to speed. Sallee put too much focus on acclimating the group of young players to the college game.

“I think the slippage was as much my fault as theirs,” Sallee said. “I put so much energy in those five freshmen and getting them caught up that those five returners slipped just a little bit.”

The physical and mental demands put on freshmen can be “mind-boggling” early on in their careers, Sallee said. He said the approach to getting them on track should have been to coach his returners to lead the young players.

Now with wins in two of its last three games, the team has seen an elevated level of competition in practice. Senior point guard Brandy Woody said the jump in production was no coincidence.

“It started with practice,” Woody said. “Everyone kind of came with more intensity, and then that showed in the game results.”

Sallee said some of the change was a direct result of reminding his veterans of their responsibilities to push the freshmen, and bring a sense of urgency to the court.

Woody said improvement in practice led to the wins over Detroit Mercy and Tennessee Tech, but it’s shown in the way players have grown off the court as well.

“It’s been a dramatic change,” Woody said. “Just their confidence and the way they go about practice, and communication skills. Just everything is improving — even the way they carry themselves. It’s been a night and day change.”

Freshman guard Jill Morrison scored six three-pointers in the team’s last two games combined. She went four-of-five from the floor in the latter of the two, a big step up from the misses she’s posted in recent games.

Early in the season, Woody said the team was inconsistent in time spent on shooting practice. It’s a task that players have to approach individually because practice is spent on team drills.

“If you’re not in the gym putting the work in, then obviously you’re not going to be confident in taking an open shot,” she said.

Whether it’s in time spent in the team drills during practice or shooting after, the leadership of the team is showing, and freshmen are slowly catching up.

“I think those five returners have started practicing better,” Sallee said. “So you’ve seen the freshmen motivated to practice better.”


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