COLUMBIA - After playing two road games in three days to start the season, the MU women’s basketball team has had a week with no games to think about its surprising 1-1 start.
The 1-1 record isn’t too surprising. It’s the way it happened.
After surviving two scares in exhibition play, the inexperienced Tigers went into Memphis on Nov. 12 and steamrolled a talented Memphis team that won 20 games last season.
“We just came out really aggressive,” head coach Robin Pingeton said. “Everything we did was crisp. We came out of the blocks and did a really good job in our transition.”
The Tigers used the transition game to jump out to a quick lead, and they never looked back, winning 67-40. Two days later, Missouri couldn’t recover from a slow start versus Eastern Illinois and lost 81-73.
Pingeton thought the way the Memphis game unfolded was what led to the letdown versus Eastern Illinois.
“I don’t feel like there was a lack of effort or a lack of heart (versus Eastern Illinois),” Pingeton said. “I think it was almost too much the other way. We pressed way too much in the first half in regards to really feeling good about our efforts against Memphis. We played the first 15-20 minutes of the game like every shot was going to give us that 20-point lead, instead of understanding that you’ve got to trust the system. We tried to stick it to them too hard too early, and that’s not the way you can play this game.”
Senior guard Jasmyn Otote felt the difference between the two games had more to do with what went right versus Memphis rather than what went wrong versus Eastern Illinois.
“We were just as prepared for Eastern Illinois,” Otote said. “But things just didn’t click like they did versus Memphis.”
The first two games give the Tigers something to build on and learn from as they shift their attention to the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands beginning November 25. The tournament features three games in three days versus No.4 Tennessee, No. 13 Georgetown and Georgia Tech.
It’s going to be a tough three-day stretch, and Otote is glad the team has over a week to prepare for it.
“I think it’s good that we have a lot of time, especially with Tennessee being our first game,” she said. “ It gives us time to prepare and get to know their plays and everything they do.”
The extra time to prepare for such a difficult tournament would be a blessing to most coaches, but Pingeton is keeping the entire season in mind.
“Right now it would look from the outside like, ‘well you’ve got a whole week, a lot of time,’” she said. “The fact of the matter is, this is going to be a long season. We’ve got kids that are going to play a lot of minutes. Although you’ve got more time, you also want to be cautious that you don’t expend so much of yourself early on in the season that you don’t have anything left in January and February.”
In preparing for the tournament, the Tigers’ focus hasn’t been directed at their opponents.
“I think the focus has got to be on us,” Pingeton said. “It absolutely does with where we’re at right now. We have so much work to do in all areas, and we’re very aware of that, and that’s OK. We’re going to be a better team in two weeks than we are now.”