By Ashley Springer
Utah State University’s women’s basketball team is hoping to bounce back from Tuesday’s 74-60 loss to the University of Northern Colorado by defending better in Friday’s game against Haskell Indian Nations University.
“We definitely need to pick up our defense,” USU sophomore guard Funda Nakkasoglu said. “It was very poor against Northern Colorado.”
“We came up short last night because our defense let us down in a few situations,” said USU head coach Jerry Finkbeiner about Tuesday’s loss.
In particular, Finkbeiner said, the Aggies failed to adequately defend the off-the-ball cutter — players who don’t have the ball but cut to get the pass and score.
“Last night we got beat by individual players beating us to the basket off of cuts, so our help-side defense will be a key,” Finkbeiner said. “It’s more about team defense, helping on the pass, helping on the dribble and making more of a dent.”
“We need to take more pride… in every defensive stop,” Nakkasoglu said. “And knowing what defensive play that we’re in and being more verbal on the court so everyone knows what’s going on.”
Today was the team’s off-day, so Thursday will be the only day the Aggies have to prepare for Friday’s game, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
“We’re going to put most of our thought and our practice and our planning time into defensively being more consistent,” Finkbeiner said on the focus of Thursday’s practice. “It’ll all be about defense and rebounding.”
Finkbeiner also plans to throw in defensive situations in practice such as diving on the floor for the basketball without getting injured and drawing the offensive charge.
Both Finkbeiner and Nakkasoglu noted that defense leads to offense.
“The whole team has realized that,” Nakkasoglu said. “That’s what gave us success in the Pacific game… but… in our BYU game and our Northern Colorado game and even our Sacramento State game that we lost, it was mostly our defense which affected our offense in the end… Once we get stops and steals in the defensive end, it’s easier to fall into our offensive game.”