Women's basketball hoping to get back on track after Thanksgiving lossesBy James Ogletree | 11/29/2017 9:17pm
After two losses in last week's Puerto Rico Clasico in Fort Lauderdale, the Alabama women's basketball team will look to get back on track as it travels to Fort Worth to play the TCU Horned Frogs on Friday.
Head coach Kristy Curry said the team suffered several self-induced mistakes in the losses, particularly on offense. She said holding opponents to around 60 points, as Alabama has done in five of six games, usually translates to wins, but the team has lacked the bench production to capitalize.
"We've got to find ways to have great, balanced scoring," Curry said. "When you have two bench points and you're shooting 30 percent from the field, that's not going to beat people. We can't allow ourselves to take a step back defensively, because I like the things we're trying to do defensively, but offensively we've got to have more of a focus and more of a finish to every play."
Senior guard Hannah Cook said the key to rebounding from deflating losses is a short memory. She feels the team has corrected its flaws from last week's defeats to North Carolina State and Elon, and her belief that the team still has a special year in store is helping her move on to the next game.
"At the beginning of the season, one of our goals was to not lose back-to-back," senior forward Ashley Williams said. "[We've been] getting our mindset right, thinking 'let's move on,' and 'we're not going to let this happen again.'"
The team hopes that sophomore point guard Jordan Lewis' return to the lineup will help achieve that goal for the rest of the season. After missing the first three games due to an ankle injury, Lewis has struggled so far, shooting six-of-25 over three games. Curry, however, sees signs in practice that the real Jordan Lewis is not far off.
"The practice time has been so valuable for Jordan this week," Curry said. "It's hard to have that injury and miss those practices and then just jump right back in. I thought the past two days, she's just been unbelievable, and [we] really can see her coming back to her old self."
Looking ahead to Friday, Cook said TCU's most dangerous weapon is its shooting, so guarding the three-point line and playing tight defense in space will be paramount.
It came as no surprise that Williams, a forward, offered an assessment more related to the Horned Frogs' physicality. She said most of their shots are layups, so being in position to impede drives to the basket has been a point of emphasis.
The Horned Frogs' team has completely changed in the last week, according to Curry, with sophomore guards Jayde Woods, a transfer from Oregon, and Kianna Ray – who was sidelined due to injury – making their season debuts. With those additions, she said, an already-good team, off to a 3-1 start, became even more formidable.
"When you get nine threes in one half like they did against Idaho and you shoot the ball at every spot the way that they do, you're a very, very good team," Curry said. "We feel like we have a very good team that needs to play better or we will not like the result we get in Fort Worth."
Curry is using that idea to establish a sense of urgency as the team prepares to face an unfamiliar Big 12 opponent. Yes, the losses did happen, but it does no good to dwell on them. Her attention is on setting a precedent of resilience and tenacity as the team draws ever closer to its conference schedule.
"It's soft to consistently think about anything but positives," Curry said. "Our focus has been toughness and no softness and moving forward, because that's the SEC. That's what we're about to jump into. It's about to be like a blazing fire, and hopefully these two experiences we had in Fort Lauderdale we can really learn from."