Maverick Maniac's Musings

November 11, 2011

2011 UNO Women’s Basketball – Game 1 Preview – Western State

Filed under: College Sports,Omaha Mavericks — Jon Green @ 2:31 pm

While the Mavericks are moving into Division I, the schedule doesn’t ramp up this weekend. The Mavericks will open their season with a two game weekend at Metro State in Denver, Colorado. The first game is today against Western State while they will take on Metro State tomorrow.

Rob White wrote an excellent, as usual, article about Jamie Nash today to get the season started. A couple of highlights:

“I tend to do what I want to do,” Nash said. “And I’ve definitely been reeled in and put into a fence. I have guidelines that he’s very strict about — reaching, turnovers, risky passes — and we’ve really worked on those.”

Those things are so important, and I never really put too much importance to them before.”
….

“She’s much more under control,” Lindley said. “Fewer turnovers, more assists and really buying into that leadership role.

“That’s hard. She’s played a certain way since she was ‘x’ years old, and now there’s some major changes we’re asking her to make. But everything we’ve asked her to do, she’s tried very hard to do it.”

Lindley cringed when Nash let out a secret during UNO’s media day — that the Mavs plan to play more zone. And while that switch could cut down on Nash’s ability to make steals, it should also force her to play a style that won’t lead to as much risk-taking.

I am a huge Jamie Nash fan, have been ever since I saw her play her first game against Creighton two years ago. It will be interesting to see what the “reeled in” Jamie looks like. I will be watching for some visual changes in her play from the last two years. Two of her “moves” that you might see less are her stepping into opponents dribbles and seeing opponents get by her after she reaches for a steal only to have her poke the ball away out-of-bounds from behind. Thinking of how many plays she made on defense the last couple years and then picturing her playing more controlled and focused seems like it could work out well.

Western State was 11-17 last year, 0-3 in exhibition games this year (including getting shelled 94-24 by Baylor!). Western State returns five starters led by Senior Forward Brooke Pendergraft with 14.3 ppg. UNO and Western State have never met.

It’s hard to believe UNO was really 8-18 last year, but they were. They bring back three starters (Jamie Nash, Paige Frauendorfer, Jessica Zaruba, and Heather Pohl), led by Heather Pohl who averaged 17.2 ppg last year.

UNO added SIX new players over the summer! One (Kelsie Lliteras) will be sitting out the year due to transfer rules (something UNO as a D1 institution now will have to get used to). Two are JUCO transfers (Zenta Liepa, Rese Huddlin), two are freshman (Taijhe Kelly, Cathleen Cox) and one is a walk-on (Myhiah Dotzler – yes Josh’s little sister).  UNO will look to the new comers to contribute, especially inside (Liepa/Kelly) where they have yet to find a solid 2nd forward to compliment Pohl (who is excellent from the outside but not as strong in the paint).

UNO’s website is suggesting the starting lineup will be Nash/Frauendorder/Heather Pohl/Stacia Gebers/Liepa.  Having Zaruba come off the bench seems like a good fit as it’s a role she played well as a freshman when asked to.  Gebers did start two games in mid January for UNO.  Rob White reported today that Carly Cator will miss the season with a torn knee ligmanet, so the only other player on the roster who has played for UNO is Amanda Woodring. She averaged 2.3 ppg in 10.1 mpg last year off the bench, but did have a season high of 14 points.

I really think UNO should be favored to come out and get a win today to start the season. I know the team struggled last year, but I felt the Mavericks were a better team than their record indicated and they bring back most of their contributors (82% of their scoring including all 4 players over 5 ppg, 58% of their rebounds). That rebounding number reflects the change inside for the Mavericks where all of their experienced post players outside of Pohl left, it also reflects how there isn’t a dominant rebounder on the Mavericks at this point (no one averaged 6 rpg last year).

So 3 things to watch today:

1) Jamie Nash, under control, how does she look?

2) Heather Pohl’s offensive game – is she improved inside/shot selection.  She could average 20ppg this year if she can find her shots and take the right ones.  Especially if she’s improved her interior game.

3) Front court depth/newcomers for UNO – who will step up and establish themselves as the go-to player down low?

I’ll take UNO 75-67.

Follow me on twitter @maverickmaniacs for tweets during the game.  Go Mavs!

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