Last evening was a fun night for the Lady Raiders at Hofheinz. It was a win, always a plus, but it was also a big win numbers wise.
Lady Raiders come out looking good in black uniforms and stood out against the cougs in home court white with red. We were styling. My grandaughter, a young lady who knows basketball uniforms, declared that we looked best.
I was hoping for a good game and was absolutely mesmerized the first 10 minutes or so of play while our defense simply stopped the cougs from scoring. Passes were intercepted, shots were blocked, and shooting was kept off keel by a fine looking help defense based on get after it aggresive play and speed and quickness. Monique Smalls was a terror for the opposing guards and Casey Morris was equally relentless, when there was a double it always ended in trouble for the home team. What amazed be was looking up at the scoreboard, I think about 10 minutes into the first period and the cougs had more fouls than points. The Lady Raiders were about 25 at that point.
We made a lot of points on steals early and really did not get into team offense that much.
The game kind of slowed a bit the remainder of the first period with us trying to work the ball some and get it into the post for easy shots from Kierra Mallard or Shauntal Nobles who posting up a bit. Neither was particularly effective, IMHO, with this work. Nobles, who while playing pretty decent defense, could not get a shot off, that is she could not transition from catching a pass to converting it to a shot. Yet she played a lot of minutes and kept getting opportunities...that is the way to help her learn her trade, she will get there. We also played Ebony Walker inside some as will with similar results. Our senior Mallard would get the shot of, she was plenty quick, but it would be a miss more often than not it seemed...alas much to my displeasure she also attempted a couple of 3's... What these three did consistly is get rebounds and play defense. Mallard impressed me with her quickness, her hands and her range on the court on defense. She helped get a steal off of the cougs best guard who was trying to set up their offense.
We did not seem to shoot a lot of three's, but when the cougs did go into zone defense they paid. Again I was impressed with three guards, Smalls took a couple, as did Morris, but Chynna Brown seemed to thrive with that opportunity, I think she hit like 4 out of 5 ( am doing this entirely from memory and my impressions of the game, no effort given to checking the stat line ). Brown also made me smile simply because she would shoot a pull up jumper from about 15.
All in all the game was dominated by our ladies. I say that at no expense to the good efforts from Houston, I think they lost a lot of experience from last season and it showed last night.
I was happy to see that our transfer from TTU, Marrisa Ashton, who played HS BB at nearby Dickenson HS landed at Houston after two seasons at Tech. When I realized that she was with the Cougs I made special effort to make sure I saw the post game handshakes. Coach Curry led the line as is normal for HC's and gave Marrisa and got from her a warm hug, pats on the back, smiles and clearly nice words, then Marrisa was greeted equaly warmly by most of the remaining Lady Raider roster and staff. Made my heart smile.
What a wonderful venue for basketball. Hofheinz pavillion, once the proud home of Phi Slamma Jamma with Hakeem Olajuwan, Clyde Drexler, Larry Micheaux, Michael Young, Reid Gettys, Alvin Franklin and the others. A great time for men's basketball with great exciting games, perhaps the most exciting in my basketball history, eminating from this arena. Hofheinz is build soley for basketball and every seat is a good one, even the bad ones. It looked very lonely seeing it barely used for a Div1 women's game, I couldn't but help feel a certain sadness for this proud building.
I cannot project this Lady Raiders team's chances for post season based on this game. It was way too one sided. That alone may bode well, but I did not get to see them pushed or stessed as a team to see how they would manage a strong challenge. They have a few of those on the Big12 schedule this season.
I will say that if I had another reasonable opportunity to watch them play, I would take it. They play fast, they play agressive defense, with opportunisitic offense, and they play team basketball. Go to a game if you get an opportunity.