It’s not often that schools open up the regular season with a matchup against one of the nation’s top teams.
The Longhorns did just that over the weekend when they hosted No. 5 Stanford.
In the end, the Cardinals’ depth gave them the edge over the Longhorns as they were able to pull out a 72-59 victory. It’s definitely not a loss to be ashamed of, as Stanford will most likely be in contention for the national title come season’s end. Head coach Gail Goestenkors had been 4-0 in season openers at Texas until the loss, but losing does provide the team with the opportunity to learn from its mistakes.
“This was a great opening game. We are going to be able to learn a lot from this game and grow from it,” said Goestenkors. “A lot of times, teams start with easy matchups, win by 20, but they don’t grow from those games.”
Tonight’s game against Southeastern Louisiana (1-0) will be a much different game for the Longhorns. The Lady Lions are an extremely young team, with seven players making their collegiate debut in the Lions’ first game, an 83-54 win over Centenary. It will be only the third time the two teams have faced off, with the series currently tied at 1-1. The Lady Lions are not nearly as tall or talented as Stanford, but in order for Texas to come out on top, it does need to improve some areas of its game.
For starters, Texas must hit open shots. It seems simple enough, but against Stanford, the Longhorns shot 20-59 (33.9 percent) from the field and just 1-11 (9.1 percent) from beyond the three-point line. The Cardinals also out-rebounded the Longhorns 45-37 in the game, with forward Chiney Ogwumike grabbing 14 total rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end.
“Overall, our defense was pretty good,” Goestenkors said. “But giving up the offensive rebounds hurt us down the stretch.”
Redshirt sophomore center Cokie Reed made her first appearance in over a year against the Cardinals after undergoing knee surgery last year. Reed logged a career-high 31 minutes while scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds. She must be a presence on the block in order for the Longhorns to defeat the Lady Lions.
“Cokie is going to demand a double team,” Goestenkors said. “Now we know how to deal with it, and we’ll have to be more aggressive and knock down open shots.”
Reed is the key to the Longhorns’ success on offense this year. Sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell should stand out as the team’s leading scoring once again this season, but Texas needs another scorer to lighten the load for Fussell. Reed provides a big body in the post, and not many teams, including the Lady Lions, will have the size to stop her. She’s going to get double-teamed more times than not, and that’s when opportunities will arise for other players to step up as well.
“I need to look for my guards to be open when I get double teamed,” said Reed.
If Reed can find her guards open and they can knock down those shots, this team should have no problem defeating the Lady Lions. The size and experience of Texas should give the Lady Lions fits and the Longhorns have an excellent opportunity to improve their record to 1-1.
Printed on Monday, November 14, 2011 as: Longhorns impress despite loss