MU
Oak Leaves

November 18, 2016


Women's Basketball Refines Offense 


Kelleen Cullison

The Main View Tipoff Classic women’s basketball tournament begins tonight, Friday, Nov. 18, as the Spartans take on the St. Mary Belles at 7 p.m. in the PERC for a shot at the championship title.

The Spartans are gearing up for what hopes to be a fourth consecutive season opener win. Last year the team pulled ahead in a dramatic last minute victory against Carroll University of Wisconsin during the preliminary round, winning 61-59, but fell short the next day facing the Warhawks of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. This year, however, the Spartans plan to turn things around.

“Last year’s tournament was definitely a learning experience for our team.” said forward Samantha Bolen, a junior from Greenwood, Indiana. “We learned that we need to have the same energy and excitement for the second game as we did for the first.”

They’re going to need that energy when facing the Belles. Last year, with no more than ten players at a time, the Belles were able to keep their games fairly close, with several games ending with a loss of a shot or two by the opponent. The team shot over 40 percent in seven of their games, and had equal or fewer turnovers than their opponents in 11 games this past season.

The Spartans are training hard in response. “Practices get really intense,” Bolen said. With a game plan fleshed out by Monday, the team throws all of their energy into practices. “We spend all week working on defending the other team’s offenses and perfecting our own,” she said.

Following the preliminary round on Friday, Saturday’s game will begin at 3 p.m. against Benedictine University of Illinois, following the game between St. Mary’s and Oglethorpe University of Georgia at 1 p.m. Benedictine had a winning 2015-2016 season, ending the season 16-11, and placed fifth in this preseason poll, placing them amongst the top six teams to make the NACC Tournament, in which the Benedictine Eagles made it all the way to the semifinals last season.

With the upcoming challenges ahead, the Spartans are keeping their eyes on the prize and their heads in the game. The young team is still in the process of familiarizing themselves with each other's playing styles, but they have a firm grasp on what is needed of them in the approaching matches. “I think our team's biggest challenge when facing St. Mary's and Benedictine is going to be keeping our turnovers to a minimum and executing our offense,” Bolen said.
 
Senior guard Jenifer Lee is more focused on defense. “We played St. Mary’s a few weeks ago, in a scrimmage,” Lee said. “ I think the biggest challenge will be blocking out. Many of their points came from offensive rebounds and put backs. The biggest challenge for Benedictine will be their physicality. They are very aggressive players and will come after us from start to finish.”

Manchester fans unable to make it to the game can keep up to date with live stats available on the Manchester website.