COLUMBIA — Lianna Doty dribbles the ball as she jogs down the court, scanning the scene as she prepares to set the offense in motion.
She opts to go inside with the ball and directs a pass into the paint. The ball leaves her hands and immediately sails back over her head, blocked by the Kentucky defender who has been towering over her all game.
Missouri (12-5, 1-3 SEC)
at Ole Miss (7-10, 0-5 SEC)
WHEN: 2 p.m.
WHERE: C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum, Oxford, Miss.
RADIO: KTGR/100.5 & 103.1 FM
"Sometimes you get into this habit of, 'This is always open,' and you set up reading your defense and go and do the same thing that you've been doing," Doty said. "They're going to take that away, because that's what great defenses do."
Doty, a freshman on the Missouri women's basketball team, has faced a few of those great defenses in her first games in the Southeastern Conference.
The 5-foot-7 point guard knew her team would be battling some of the country's best teams. But she hadn't known exactly what to expect until the conference matchups began.
"It's always known as a physical conference, but you don't really know until you're in it," Doty said. "There are a lot of great athletes, a lot of great defenders, a lot of great players."
Doty, who sees more time on the court than any of the five other freshmen, has to make some adjustments quickly.
The cross-court passes that help define her aggressive style at the point have to be executed with greater caution than before.
When she ventures into the paint, she has to prepare for opponents that are five inches taller than they had been during the nonconference season.
Her mentality of making shooters earn points at the free-throw line has gotten her into foul trouble and confined her to the bench for portions of games.
She was called for three fouls against Georgia and Auburn. Four against Kentucky. Five against Tennessee.
"I think part of that's just her reckless abandon style of play," Tigers coach Robin Pingeton said. "At times, it can be really good, because she has been able to make some big defensive plays for us when we've needed them. Other times, it can really hurt."
Doty recognizes the need to make changes.
A day after the team watched film of its game against Kentucky, she could ramble off a list of areas to improve in: Running better screens. Getting out of traps. Communicating with post players.
"There were lots of things to learn from," Doty said. "Coach made that pretty clear."
Doty will have an opportunity to show what she's learned Sunday in the team's game at Ole Miss.
"I think some of the calls maybe she's getting now as a freshman won't be the same as a junior or senior," Pingeton said. "But the fact of the matter is, you're a freshman, and there's a learning curve that takes place there.
"She's just got to understand what she can get away with and what she can't get away with."