The first day of college basketball is magical. Those that follow the sport religiously come together to hype up the beginning of the season and prepare with speculations and projections, us included. The first day is so anticipated that multiple people were tuning in to watch the first matchup between IUPUI and D3 Spalding at 11 am!
The Wright State women’s basketball team was among the hundreds of teams playing last night. The Raiders battled Southern Indiana of the OVC to a 67-63 loss that came down to the wire after a 15-point comeback by Wright State. This follows Wright State’s only exhibition against D2 Tiffin, where the Raiders smothered the Dragons 80-43.
So what can we glean from the matches so far? Here are my early impressions of the third iteration of Coach Hoffman’s Wright State Raiders.
The paint defense has improved tremendously – The Raiders got bigger in the offseason with acquisitions like Julia Hoefling and Layne Ferrell, combined with Cara VanKempen and Rachel Loobie holding down the frontcourt. It is paying dividends in the early matchups – the paint defense looks much better. Penetration plays are getting stuffed and possessions are getting taken away. On the offensive side, the Raiders have been picking up offensive rebounds as well thanks to some crashing of the boards. The next step though is to work on the defensive rebounding aspect of the play to tie it all up.
That’s mine, thank you – The Wright State squad put up a whopping fifteen steals against the Eagles last night and tallied on ten more turnovers to make the Eagles give up possession in one out of three plays. Layne Ferrell and Rachel Loobie combined for the most of the team’s takeaways, mostly through victimizing players gunning for the post. Wright State has been no stranger to pickpocketing in recent years, but if a double digit thievery trend shows up in subsequent games, they could steal some matchups.
No no no, I said that’s MINE! – And on the flip side of having so many steals, the Raiders had about as many stripped away from them in some fashion. Wright State found so many opportunities to have clean steals from the Eagles, which shows promise, but gave away so many of their own possessions on bad passes or rushed play. Fast breaks in particular were hit and miss, with the Raiders either meeting the broad side of a blocking hand while trying to go down or putting up shots in awkward positioning to the side of the net.
Live (and die) by the 3 – Against Tiffin, the Raiders impressed in three pointers and points in the paint equally. Against Southern Indiana, Wright State relied on the three point shot a little too hard in the opening minutes, resulting in a 20% 3FG at one point. At the halfway mark, the Raiders had scored 4-15 while Southern Indiana was a perfect 4-4 in contrast. I will never take issue with a three point shooting team, but the shots put up in those opening minutes happened because the Raiders pushed to the paint, came up short, lobbed it up and had no one underneath to rebound. Rushed play was the theme of the night for both teams in a sense. In the second half, things settled and the Raiders won back their percentage and even cracked 10 3FG as they usually do.
Wright State faces Michigan State in East Lansing next on Sunday, November 12 at 2 pm.