Owls prioritize defensive effort

Since the beginning of the season, the women’s basketball team (13-15, 9-6 American Athletic Conference) has preached that in order for their team to be successful, it starts at the defensive end.

“Defense is important, period,” senior guard Tyonna Williams said. “If you don’t play defense, you’re not going to win a lot of games. In the conference that we play in and the type of competition we go up against every game, you need to be a good defensive team.”

Last week’s 69-58 win against Tulane, in addition to a 79-53 blowout loss against South Florida, showed the difference between what good and bad defense can do for Temple.

Temple’s quick guards and its aggressive style of play forces opponents to turn the ball over 16.3 times per game, two more than the Owls’ own average.

In the win against Tulane, the Owls’ turnovers proved the difference. The team’s 16 total steals in the game led to easy transition baskets as the Owls scored 27 points off Tulane’s miscues.

Temple’s defense was not up to par in its first contest against The Green Wave. The Owls only had six steals. After the second matchup, coach Tonya Cardoza explained the difference playing solid defense has for her team.

“I thought our defense was a lot better,” Cardoza said after her team held Tulane to 19 fewer points than its previous meeting. “When we’re playing pretty good defense, we always give ourselves a chance to win.”

However, as highlighted in the loss against USF, Temple is vulnerable when it doesn’t excel at the defensive end. The Owls are 1-10 this season when they have allowed their opponents to score more than 70 points.

The mental aspect of playing defense has forced the young team into defensive ruts at times this year.

Williams said most of the team’s defensive shortcomings in its game against South Florida were actually an inability to identify players and stick to the game plan.

“We just didn’t pay attention to detail,” Williams said after the loss. “When it came to certain people, personnel, there was a way we were supposed to guard certain people and we didn’t do that.”

Communication is another defensive skill that the team has struggled with at times. Lack of communication has led to offensive players getting open shots and easy buckets.

Forward Safiya Martin said communication on the defensive end sparks the team’s play on both sides of the ball.

“For us, it’s very important,” Martin said of defensive communication. “Whenever we’re talking on the defensive end, everything runs through our defense. It leads to stops and the stops lead to offense. Communication is a huge part of this team and without that we’re all over the place.”

Owen McCue can be reached at owen.mccue@temple.edu.

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