It’s the longest losing streak in coach Tonya Cardoza’s tenure as coach of the Owls, who are now 5-8 this season.
“The problem is not knowing how to put teams away, being disciplined and following the game plan,” senior center Victoria Macaulay. “We have to work together and be a unit. I think we’re trying but obviously trying wasn’t good enough.”
At this point everything has gone wrong. They’ve fallen behind big in the first half. They’ve lacked toughness at critical moments. They’ve turned over the ball at alarming rates. And on Friday they blew a 17 point lead against Howard.
“If we were just a more disciplined basketball team, some of this stuff wouldn’t happen,” Cardoza said. “They say all the things they’re supposed to do, but when it’s time to go out and do it, it’s not getting done.”
Before the game against Howard, Macaulay and redshirt-junior forward Natasha Thames both Tweeted about ending the skid, with Thames saying, “Gameday…#nomoreexcuses.”
As the losing streak has continued the Cardoza’s patience has been running. She’s been increasingly stressed by several members of the team not showing the competitive fire she wants from all of her players.
There was praise for sophomore guard Tyonna Williams’s efforts and desire to beat the best despite her continued turnover issues earlier this week, but Cardoza hasn’t had much praise for anyone else.
For her credit she hasn’t resorted to calling out any of her players either for a lack of effort.
“It’s hard when no one else really wants to handle the basketball,” Cardoza said of Friday’s problems. “We just get beside ourselves. It’s like a hot potato where everyone hurries up and tries to get rid of the basketball instead of just being patient and calm.”
“Obviously they’re going to double team [Williams] and make her give up the basketball,” Cardoza added. “We got to better mentally, more tougher. We got to play with more desire and heart.”
It didn’t help that Macaulay had her worst game of the season by far either, scoring two points, grabbing nine rebounds and coughing up the ball six times.
“Sometimes she gets so focused on scoring that she doesn’t play defense,” Cardoza said. “She could have played better, a lot of them could have played better.”
If hustle and desire are the problems you can’t blame Macaulay or Williams. You can’t really blame Thames either, who’s still not completely back from last season’s knee injury but did knock down 19 on Friday.
The young players just don’t seem to have that passion. Maybe it’s something that takes time to develop, after you learn the college game. Maybe they’re just not as concerned with like Williams or Macaulay.
You don’t see freshman forward Sally Kabengano using her size to crash the lanes nearly as much as she could. You don’t see whichever guard is at the two position taking pressure off Williams or being any sort of scoring threat.
And that’s what could be seen back in December, the last time this team played at home.
“Working with a lot of young and inexperienced guys has been a bit hard because there’s a lot of things you still have to learn about playing college basketball,” Macaulay said “It took me up until last year to realize how important it is to perform and work as a team.”
Cardoza won’t say it’s because of the youth, but outside of Williams you don’t see the same passion from the young blood on the roster.
And Cardoza doesn’t think they’ve hit rock bottom yet.
“To be honest I don’t think so because it’s the simple things that we’re not doing, it’s not something major,” Cardoza said.
Get ready for a bumpy ride.