By: Steve Miller – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton’s women’s basketball team looks to continue the high-octane offensive pace while ratcheting up the defensive pressure for the 2014-15 season.
In 2013-14, the Flyers ranked 13th in the nation with 81.5 points per game and 14th in the nation in assists per game with 16.9 per game. Fast, offensive attacking and unselfish play will once again be the hallmark of the UD offense.
“We want to play even faster. I still don’t think we’re playing fast enough,” head coach Jim Jabir said. “That’s something we have to address. We’ve got to get the ball up and get engaged into our offense a lot faster.”
Dayton hopes the strategy will catch opponents off guard.
“We’re pushing it. We’re trying to see how fast we can go,” Jabir said. “And for a lot of teams who want to play fast with us, we’re hoping that our fast is different from their fast and they’re uncomfortable.”
Feeding off of the high pace, Jabir is preparing his team to be even quicker when moving the ball up the court in transition and after defensive possessions.
“When we practice, we’ll change the 30 second shot clock to a 20 second shot clock,” he said.
Taken to an extreme, the team sometimes works with a six-second clock, moving the ball the full length of the court for a shot within just six seconds during practices.
While the team’s high-powered offensive efficiency contributed to Dayton’s success last season, the team suffered several losses due to lapses on the defensive side of the ball. The Flyers gave up 73 points per game last season, good for No. 290 in the country in terms of scoring defense.
Jabir and the team are looking to address the issue, within the scope of the fast-paced style of play that has made the team successful in the past.
“Hopefully we’ll be a better defensive team, but we’re going to take more chances this year,” Jabir said. “We’re going to trap ball screens. We’re going to press full court.”
Kelley Austria, another junior guard, also emphasized the constant pressure the defense needs to apply in order to work within the strengths of the offensive system.
Austria sees more defensive importance placed on forcing turnovers.
“We’re doing a lot of full court defense,” Austria said. “We’re trying to force a turnover before they get to half court.”
The team also understands the importance of extra possessions. Junior guard Amber Deane emphasized the need to rebound on the defensive end.
“We need to box out,” she said. “One shot and done.”
Trapping will be a key to the Flyers’ defense, according to Deane. By double-teaming the ball handler, they hope to force turnovers and ill-advised shots while making the team’s opponents play out of their comfort zone.
“We’ve been working on that since the offseason started,” Deane said of the trap game. “We feel like we have the personnel to be fast and quick defensively, to trap a lot and speed the game up.”
While a trap can create risk by leaving a shooter unguarded for easy points, Deane is confident her teammates will do their jobs.
“We want them to take quick shots,” she said. “[The coaches] tell us that as long as we’re playing hard, we can’t make mistakes.”
A sturdy defense will only improve the electric offense that Dayton has put together.
“Offensively we want to play fast, we want to score in six seconds or less every trip,” Deane said. “That’s why we’re doing a little bit more on defense this year – to try to speed the game up.”
In the team’s first exhibition game against Division II Eckerd College Friday, fans witnessed both UD’s defensive aggressiveness and high-scoring attack in a 93-18 win at UD Arena. The Flyers forced 32 turnovers in the game and four Dayton players scored in double figures.