Striving to be their best

Friday, January 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:06 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Everyone makes resolutions for the new year, even the Missouri women’s basketball team.

The Tigers play Miami (Ohio) at 7 tonight at Hearnes Center. It will be the first meeting between the Tigers (7-2) and the RedHawks (6-4).

Missouri coach Cindy Stein said being a better leader and an example for others is important to her.

“(What) I really try to concentration on is to be someone others want to follow,” she said. “To be a good role model for how to handle stress during a game, being poised so your team sees that and being able to communicate effectively.”

Stein also said she would like to see her team become more confident.

“When we play confident we are a really good team and we can handle the rough times,” Stein said. “Sometimes if we come in a little timid we are not as effective, we don’t respond like we need to.”

Senior forward Evan Unrau said she is going to try to work on getting better at free throws and sophomore center Cherice Mack said she is going to work on every aspect of her game.

“I’d say one of the biggest things I need to work on is protecting the ball more on the dribble,” freshman guard Blair Hardiek said.

Miami is coming off an 83-71 win against Valparaiso on Tuesday. The victory was Miami’s sixth win in eight games and was the first time in the program’s history, three players scored at least 20 points in a game.

Kim Lancaster, a 6-foot senior center, and Cindi Merrill, a 5-10 sophomore guard, each scored 21 points while Colleen Day, a 6-foot senior forward, scored 20 and had 14 rebounds.

Day leads four RedHawks players with double-digit scoring averages. Day averages 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.

Stein said defense will be a key for Missouri. The Tigers allow 60.3 points per game, while the RedHawks score 75.6 points per game.

Stein said it’s important for Missouri to keep pressure on the ball.

“I think that (ball pressure) is such a key ingredient to it all,” Stein said. “You can’t go through the motions defensively, you’ve got to know what they are trying to do and look to take certain things away.”

Keeping Miami away from the free-throw line will also be important for Missouri.

Miami has made 110-of-147 free throws, but in the RedHawks four losses it has been outscored at the free-throw line by an average of 12.3 points. Missouri has made 132-of-188 from the free-throw line.

Missouri defeated Iowa 75-65 Tuesday. Unrau scored 19 points and had 12 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Sophomore guard LaToya Bond is also coming off career-high 20 points and nine assists.

“I hope Iowa was a confidence builder for us,” Stein said. “It should be, but it also comes down you’ve to prepare for every team’s best (performance).

“Iowa wasn’t at their best, and I think we had something to do with that at times and at times we didn’t. Same thing with Miami, you’ve got to prepare for their best.”

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