Published Fri, Nov 16, 2012 12:09 pm Dateline
Ohio Women’s Basketball travels north this weekend to Minneapolis, Minn., for the Subway Classic, where they will play the tournament host, Minnesota, on Saturday at 1 p.m. Coming off their first home opener win since 2008 against Cleveland State on Tuesday, the Green and White hopes to bring some of its momentum into the preseason tournament.
Head coach Semeka Randall sees the team’s 2-0 start as motivation for what could be the toughest series the Bobcats have during the regular season.
“Our kids are feeling good about themselves,” said Randall. “They’re believing what our staff is putting out for them and trusting the staff in terms of execution; we’ve been harping on that…it’s always great when you win because you’re building more and more confidence in players and our system.”
The first and only Big Ten opponent Ohio faces this season is Minnesota, who lost to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament last season, but went on to win the WBI Championship.
“(Minnesota) is a lot stronger, a lot bigger than us, but once we get past the atmosphere and the environment, we’re just going to play basketball,” said Randall. “When you’re on the road, you’re all about going into someone’s house and trying to steal a game.”
The Big Ten foe also has the most recent Big Ten Player of the Week, forward Micaella Riche, who is averaging 24.5 points per game and 10 rebounds early in the season.
“The biggest thing with a kid like that is thinking about trying to contain her, so you’re not going to try and totally shut her down because she takes a lot of shots,” said Randall. “Every shot she takes, she is going to have to have a hand in her face. There’s going to have to be someone or some pressure where she’ll have to always have to score [over us]…We’re hoping we can contain her as best as we can.”
Besides Riche, Minnesota also looks to guard Rachel Banham, who is averaging 23.5 points per game.
“We’re going to make them take hard shots; this is a tough game for us,” explained Randall. “This could be a game where the opponent comes in thinking they have us beat, but as long as we come out and do our part…if we play hard and we compete, we’ll put ourselves in position for whatever happens.”
Senior guard Symone Lyles, who is averaging five points and four boards, notes the Green and White’s lack of size in the paint.
“One of our weaknesses is that we are smaller than everyone else,” said Lyles. “However, we hope that we will not show our weaknesses, but instead look to our strengths, one of which is in our guard play.”
Randall also sees assets in play up top, specifically in the guidance Ohio’s guards have provided thus far.
“(Our leadership) starts with our point guard, Ashley Fowler,” said Randall. “She has done a tremendous job and Shavon (Robinson) has taken on that leadership role. They’re playing on one another’s strengths.”
Erin Bailes, junior guard for the Bobcats, will make her debut this Saturday, hoping to provide an extended role in the guard presence that has occurred the past two games.
The Bobcats play Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. against the Gophers and will face the winner or loser of the UNLV-Maine matchup on Sunday at either noon or 2 p.m. UNLV is currently 2-0 on the year, while Maine has yet to win a game and holds an 0-3 record.