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Crafton works to be more aggressive for Missouri women's basketball team

Sunday, January 27, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
Missouri guard Sydney Crafton avoids two Morgan State defenders while attempting a layup during the Tigers' 25-point win.

COLUMBIA — The members of the Missouri women's basketball team lined up at the baseline of the practice gym at Mizzou Arena, waiting to take their turn against the scout team.

One by one, they took the ball and tried to fight their way to half court, going up against a defender applying maximum pressure.

They weaved back and forth, making cuts and changing their speed, hoping to catch their defenders off guard before eventually reaching their destination.

When Sydney Crafton took the ball, none of that was necessary. 

Crafton took the ball, moved to the defender's right side and switched into another gear, blowing past the defender and reaching the half-court line untouched.

"I was telling Syd, she can do that kind of thing all the time against any defender," senior center Liz Smith said. "She has that kind of talent."

Crafton displayed that talent prominently in Missouri's game last Sunday at Ole Miss, when she made the game-winning free throw in overtime after driving to the basket for a layup and getting fouled when trying to rebound her shot. 

On a team based on perimeter shooting, Crafton is the team's go-to option for drives into the paint when a defense shuts down the 3-point option.

Crafton has averaged 10 points and five rebounds a game, but her numbers have fluctuated based on the opponent and whether Missouri is able to execute its long-range shots.

But Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said she would like to see more aggressiveness from her senior guard.

"We actually talk about this quite a bit," Pingeton said. "There will be games where Sydney stops herself. She doesn't have the aggressive mindset that she needs to have."

Missouri's prolific 3-point attack is no secret, and some Southeastern Conference teams have had success in shutting it down, which gives Crafton more opportunities to go inside with the ball.

Pingeton said that she was glad to see Crafton come through under pressure when she tabbed her to make the last shot against Ole Miss. 

"When you're a senior, the expectations change," Pingeton said. "Personnel changes, and that's something we really need for her to continue to do going forward."


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