Undersized Missouri women's basketball team plans to use fast-paced offense

Monday, October 29, 2012 | 10:10 p.m. CDT
Missouri women's basketball head coach Robin Pingeton watches players do drills at the practice court in Mizzou Arena on Monday. The team's first home game is 7 p.m. Tuesday.

COLUMBIA — Missouri women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton knows exactly what characteristics she wants in her recruits.

As soon as the question is asked, she can rattle off the laundry list of what she's looking for, a blueprint for the types of players she thinks will help rebuild the team. 

Offensively, she looks for a high basketball IQ, sound fundamentals and the ability to knock down tough shots. 

On defense, she wants tough players with "grit and fight" who understand defensive rotations.

Pingeton's players have a more precise description of the group their coach has assembled for this season: "Shooters."

"We have a lot of shooters on our team, so it seems like the team's going to be based on that," senior guard Liene Priede said. 

"We're going to stretch the defense out," sophomore guard Morgan Eye said. "We've got a lot of shooters on this team. It's going to be a different style of play, but we're really excited about it."

"We've got a lot of shooters this year," sophomore guard Kyley Simmons said. "It's going to be more fast-paced, with a lot of guards. We're going to have to get up and down the floor and run a lot and play a different style."

The new offensive outlook is a result of the graduation of forwards Christine Flores and BreAnna Brock. The Tigers have become an undersized team, which will shift the focus from getting the ball inside to creating shots along the perimeter for the team's multitude of guards.

Like last year's Missouri men's basketball team, the team will often play four guards and one post player, counting on accurate shooters to rack up points. 

Pingeton said she will recruit more players with size in next year's class, but for now, she's embracing her smaller team, implementing a faster-paced offense with more outside shots. 

The shift in philosophy is, in part, by design. 

In her third year as Missouri's coach, only one of Pingeton's 13 players was inherited from the previous coaching regime.  Having a team made up primarily of hand-picked players will be a major step forward in the process of Pingeton taking full ownership of the program. 

"A lot of times, at the first press conference when you get the job, people want to know your style of play, and I think you've just got to set that on the side and evaluate what your abilities are within that team and kind of put your players in a position to be successful," Pingeton said.

"But as we've gone through the recruiting trail and been able to recruit a couple classes now, we recruit a certain kind of players that do fit our style, and I think you'll see that."

Pingeton's preference for a quick offense was evident last year in the extensive playing time given to Eye and Simmons, a small backcourt pair who each averaged more than 25 minutes a game despite being freshmen. 

This year, it will be manifested in players such as 5-foot-7 freshman point guard Lianna Doty, who Pingeton has identified as an early standout. 

"I love to push the tempo," Doty said. "I love to get fast buckets and easy breaks. I'm just a quick-hitter kind of player."

Although returning players are still adapting to the new offensive philosophy, they seem to be embracing the new opportunities.

"Oh, I love it," Simmons said. "I love every bit of it. We've got people that get out and run for us, and we've got more than one person who can handle the ball this year, so I can get out and run."

Fans will get their first look at the team Tuesday, when the team plays its first exhibition against Lincoln University at Mizzou Arena. 

With so many questions left to be answered about the young team, Pingeton is eager to debut the new-look offense.

"I think a lot of it is just seeing how our kids, our young kids, respond under the bright lights," she said. "It's a different stage. Practice is certainly the first step of the process, but it's a new element of pressure they're not used to."

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