Our women's basketball team put up a valiant effort last night against the Duke Blue Devils. At least for the first 30 minutes. In the first half, we showed that no one should underestimate us, and that we can be quick, feisty, and drain big shots. As the second half moved along, we started to unravel, rushing shots, allowing a lot of runouts, getting outrebounded, and allowing them to take almost whatever shot they wanted. It might seem to be bad that we lost by 21 points. But this Duke team is IMO the only team that will seriously challenge Uconn for the national championship, and this game was on their court. Most teams lose by 30-50 points against this year's Duke team. With all 9 of their McDonalds All-Americans.
We learned a lot from this game and gained some confidence, as well as making a list of things to work on. We beat the unranked teams we were supposed to beat, and lost to the number 6 (Stanford) and number 2 teams in the country. Play that last 10 minutes like the first 30, and we can play with anybody. But even as it stands now, no team in the Big Ten is in the same league with Stanford and Duke. Therefore we should be able to hang with any Big Ten opponent. Not to say we will go undefeated on the road in conference. That is not realistic. But the three teams picked ahead of us, Penn State, Nebraska, and Michigan State have all shown their vulnerabilities so far in non-conference play.
I still expect us to finish in the top 4 places in the conference standings, win or at least play in the championship of the Big Ten tournament, and make the NCAA tournament with a seed in the 3-6 range. Most likely 4 or 5. Hopefully we won't fall flat and lose any more non-conference games but there is no assurance of that. At Kansas, at Green Bay, and IPFW and Bowling Green at home will all challenge us. We are pretty well set with guards, and our post players are getting valuable game experience. Yes we could use one or two more taller post players, but it is what it is. Our coaches are coming up with good game plans and in-game and halftime adjustments, and for the most part, our players are executing as instructed. Houser and Moses still are our two senior leaders that impact the games the most. If Houser can let Wilson or Morrissette run the point, and push the pace off of the ball, we seem to be better off. While it is hard not to appreciate KK's ability to push the pace, she can still get ahead of herself, especially when playing the 1 position. As for Moses, she sprained her ankle against Duke and we sure hope this isn't serious. We don't know if that threw off her shot as she had several jumpers all but fall in the basket before bouncing out last night. We definitely need her shooting ability and overall presence. Others on the team continue to improve and step up in game situations.
It is going to continue to be a fast and fun year of basketball.