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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Keys to the women’s tournament game

Published: March 2, 2007
Section: Sports

As the Brandeis women's basketball team heads off to Emmanuel to take on Maine-Farmington, here are some keys that we at the Hoot feel are necessary for the Judges if they hope to advance deep into the playoffs.

1. Ball movement and shot selection. With Caitlin Malcolm 07 facing double and triple teams in the middle, it is vital that the Judges are able to make passes along the perimeter and work for the open shot. Criticism has been that the team has been at times ineffective in moving both with and without the ball, throwing it around before settling for a long-range shot. The offense needs to work the ball and make those high-percentage shots.

2. Drive the lane. Brandeis was second in the UAA with a 73.6% clip from the free throw line. NYU struggles aside, free throw shooting has been a hallmark for the Judges. With that in mind, the team needs to drive the lane, pick up the fouls and make the baskets at the free throw line.

3. Jaime Capra 08. With Malcolm facing a swarm every time she has the ball, Capra has become the offensive powerhouse, leading the way with 15.1 points per game. As a result teams are likely going to try and double her along with Malcolm. Tying in once again with good ball movement, the Judges need to do what they can to help Capra get the open looks. When she gets going, it makes getting inside the post easier for all. As Coach Carol Simon stated, Capra does have the advantage of being a perimeter player which makes her tougher to defend.

4. Depth. What the team lacks in experience (compared to last years squad), they make up for in depth. Rookie guard Jessica Chapin 10 is a spark plug off the bench, averaging 7.9 points per game and was second on the team in three-point field goal percentage. Fellow rookie guard Lauren Rashford 10 also provided support in the form of 27 steals along with 3.3 points. Cassidy Dadaos 09 in her first full year provided four rebounds along with 3.9 points, and Carmela Breslin 10 in 17 games, shot a scintillating .438 clip from beyond the arc.

5. Who steps up for the post-season? This ties in with the importance of depth. Observers watching last years post-season squad expected Malcolm or Capra to lead the way and instead saw the team get past Salem State. Thanks for that success went to Christine Clancy 06 and Alison Chase 07, the pair of whom almost single-handedly succeeded in pushing Brandeis past Bowdoin College. If Malcolm and/or Capra struggle, who will provide the heroics?

6. Offense wins games, defense wins championships. Brandeis finished first in the UAA in scoring defense and 3-point defense. This will be helpful because the Maine-Farmington Beavers have a very strong offense, led by the potent trio of center Kari Simpson (15.8 points, 8.6 rebounds per game), guard Karen Sirois (12.0 points, 4.7 assists) and NAC Rookie of the Year Caitlyn Laflin (14.2 ppg). If Brandeis wants to advance, they need to keep at least two of them in check;

the stats indicate Brandeis has the capability to do it.

7. The last major key is simply consistency. Three out of the Judge's five losses came from a very poor performance in one half that offset a great performance earlier or later in the game. In both of their meetings against NYU, Brandeis was undone by a poor second half performance. In New York last Saturday, the Judges trailed by 16 and were unable to close the gap. While it is true that in a tough conference like the UAA, teams will struggle for a stretch, the fact remains that Brandeis cannot start or end sluggishly and expect to advance.

There you have it seven keys to Brandeis victory. It might be easy to admit that these keys are rather obvious and could apply to anyone, but after all, it is taking care of the important business that makes a contender. Last year, Brandeis nearly knocked off a team that went to the elite eight and with their depth and skill level, there is good reason to assume that the Judges can at least match their progress from last year, and even surpass it.