Published Thu, Dec 6, 2012 11:01 am Dateline
Coming off their fifth straight loss, the Bobcats look to end a slump that has lasted since Nov. 17, when they lost against Minnesota in the Subway Classic. With only two more home games in 2012 (Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State), Ohio looks to pick up a victory before going on a three-game road trip to end the calendar year.
Under the tenure of head coach Semeka Randall, the Green and White has endured a few lengthy losing streaks, including a four-game span last season, as well as two five-game spans and a seven-contest span in the 2010-2011 campaign.
“It’s very important (to end this streak),” said Randall. “I think it will help our confidence, make us feel a little bit better about one another, and not to think the worst. It’s a long season, a long journey, and sometimes you have to go through some things to really learn a lot about yourself. It would be great to get a win because you can try to put things back in perspective and get things rolling.”
After Sunday’s game against Detroit, Randall said she would be making changes to the starting lineup, which accounted for 10 of Ohio’s 53 total points.
Freshman guard Kiyanna Black, who has scored in the double-digits the past two games, and junior guard Erin Bailes, who made five shots from beyond the arc last game, could potentially enter the lineup Thursday after strong efforts off the bench. Freshman Lexie Baldwin, who came off the bench and played for 22 minutes, had nine points and nine boards in Ohio’s loss against Detroit and could add the post presence Ohio has lacked.
“I think (the bench) is very important,” said Bailes, who led the team last game with 19 points. “I was saying (Tuesday) to somebody that we need to bring energy off the bench too, so when people are going through tough times during games, we need to have their back.”
The bench may need to have another contributive effort against Eastern Kentucky, whose strengths come from inside the paint; forward Jade Barber ranks 19th nationally in rebounds per game, and the team ranks 24th in blocked shots.
“It will be a conscious effort to do a team box out and put a body on somebody,” said Randall. “Also, knowing that they have shot blockers in there, you’re going to have to use ball fakes and pump fakes in there when going up for shots in the middle.”
EKU grabs an average of seven more rebounds a game than the Bobcats and shoots a slightly higher percentage from the field. Where the Bobcats do make up ground is in the turnover battle (+3.5) and at the charity stripe (team free-throw percentage of .747).
What coaches and players echo throughout each practice and after each game, though, is to focus on playing to their potential, and not to the level of their opponents.
“It’s a game that has to be played. Players have to step up and make some basketball decisions and make shots and take the game plan and execute to the best of their ability,” said Randall.
Despite the ominous prospect of another loss on Thursday, Randall explains that this game does not change from the team’s mindset on getting another win.
“I want a win. That never changes from the way I’ve always been. You’ve got to do the little things in order to give yourself a win. You have to go about it the same way and have that same love, drive, and passion despite what’s going on,” said Randall.
The game is at 7 p.m. in the Convo on Thursday night.