I've had a lot on my plate the last week or so, so I decided to double up this game wrap rather than try to squeeze in a short one. Also, I was unable to make it to the Toledo game due to an exam, so my analysis of that game will be more box-score-based than usual.
That said, let's get to it. The girls had two nice wins over Austin Peay and Toledo, putting them in the semis of the preseason NIT, and suffered one huge loss in KK Houser. You guessed it, KK tore her ACL 4 minutes into the Austin Peay game. The loss is absolutely a huge one, but at the same time it is not a death blow. Sound familiar? Anyway, more on that later. For now, let's talk about the good from the weekend.
Player of the Game, Austin Peay
Courtney Moses - 20 Pts, 5 Ast, 7-11 FG, 4-5 3Pt
This one is a no-brainer. Your starting point guard going down and a freshman backup coming in is supposed to be a disaster, but Friday night was the complete opposite. I mentioned last week that Courtney has a pretty shot, and boy did she prove me right. Unafraid to shoot and with a quick release, she could be the answer to Jodi Howell's departure. On top of that, she dished out 5 assists and ran the break with aplomb. Add that to her superb defense and you have the makings of an excellent point guard. With KK out, Courtney may be the key to the season. Games like Friday's make me unafraid to put that load on her, regardless of experience.
Player of the Game, Toledo
Drey Mingo - 21 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Blk, 7-8 FT, 0 TO
This game can only be described as monstrous. Pretty much everything you can do to help your team win, she did. The stat line pretty much speaks for itself. I mean, 4 assists from a F/C? That's Robbie-esque, and 4 blocks would make JJ proud. Amazing. On a larger scale, this team is pretty far under the radar (11 seed, 'Last Four In' in the first bracketology), largely because people don't realize how good Courtney and especially Drey can be.Game Balls:
Sam Ostarello (Austin Peay) - 18 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk, 2 Stl, 8-9 FG, 18 Min
Wow. Just wow. She did WHAT in 18 minutes? Sam is capable of completely taking over a game when she's on, and it showed Friday. She was making tough shots around the rim, and as usual she was a rebounding machine. That doesn't really capture the essence of her performance, though. At no point did the offense flow through her, nor was she even the first option most of the time. And yet, she was dominating the game. Coach Versyp is in a tough spot here, as Sam is simply too good to have on the bench, but no one deserves the demotion either. Whatever happens, Sam will still go out and play hard, that much I am sure of. I've been avoiding saying it, cause I think it's overused, but I see Chris Kramer potential here.
Brittany Rayburn (Toledo) - 18 Pts, 10-10 FT
Ho, hum. 18 points for Brittany. She's like E'Twaun: she'll get her points, but she doesn't need to have the ball in her hands all the time. And yet, when you look up at the board at the end of the night, she has 16 or 20. Also, props for shaking off an elbow to the head in the AP game that left her with a bizarre cut inside her ear.
Antionette Howard (Toledo) - 15 Pts, 6 Reb, 5 Ast, 7-8 FG
This is something of a cumulative award, which is not to say this performance didn't earn it. Rather, her other games deserve mention too. Antionette has been solid off the bench in all 4 games, she just kept getting edged out in the Game Ball section. She rebounds very well from the guard position, and she knows her role. She's not going to jack up tough threes all night or try to go 1-on-5 off the dribble. She's just going to get in there and do the dirty work on the boards and under the basket, and make everyone else better by doing so. She should be a solid contributor off the bench this year.
- I'm going to avoid talking about KK here, because I'm going to spam the front page tonight and explore that more in my next post.
- This team seems to thrive on locking people down and then using that to run away with it. It has happened every game to varying degrees: the game is close for 10-12 minutes, then they close on a 25-10 run to take control. The only exception was the Toledo game, where the lockdown didn't come until the second half, when the team trailed at the half, tied it with a 10-3 run, and then closed on a 28-13 to seal the game.
- A lot of that may have to do with wearing down the opposition with fresh legs. Apart from Brittany's 38-minute marathon against Toledo, no player has exceeded 32 minutes, and only twice have any exceeded 30. The depth of this team combined with Coach Versyp's willingness to sub is going to lead to a lot of late runs.
- Sam Ostarello knocked down 2 of 2 treys against Toledo after going 3-21 last year. Apart from being big baskets, that is a very good sign going forward. The one hole in her game is her outside shooting, and if she can make that a legitimate threat it will be a huge addition to her game. On this team in particular, any additional shooting is welcome.
Without the injury to KK, this would have been a perfect weekend. The team continued to improve against AP, survived some adversity in trailing to Toledo, and is still getting strong contributions from all players. In short, they are exactly where they need to be at this point in the season. Looking ahead, they face South Dakota State in the semifinals. After that, if they win, they will face their first real test in the title game against either Florida or DePaul, who is currently just outside the top 25.