The public got its first look at the Missouri women’s basketball team Saturday morning during its Black and Gold scrimmage.
The Tigers took the court for seven simulated games that lasted 10 minutes a piece. Missouri coach Cindy Stein said the team uses these scrimmages to test different lineups and judge chemistry between teammates.
“Well, sometimes you just want to see who plays well together,” Stein said. “Actually, in practice what we’ve been doing, we’ve been keeping it pretty even, having different groups but still keeping it even.”
Both sides showed some rust in the opening games. Fifteen turnovers plagued the first game. Junior guard LaToya Bond led the Gold team with seven points, and the Black team balanced its scoring among five players. Black won the first game 12-10.
To throw in some added competition, a third team played. The Red team consisted of seven players, including former Evan Unrau and Tracy Lozier, and men who make up the normal practice squad.
The Tigers could not find an answer for the Red’s offense in Game 1 or 2. Christelle N’Garsanet, a 6-foot-3 junior center, scored two points for Black, which lost 18-5.
Defense was another factor. The Gold team produced eight points but gave up 14 to Red. Defensive stops will be dire for the Tigers during the season, and Stein said that this will be a focal point for her team.
“Our defense is just going to be something that’s going to continue to and need to improve because of where we need to be defensively,” Stein said. “We still have a little ways to go.”
The flow of the game for both teams picked up with each game. Players showed signs of fatigue, but managed to elevate their games.
In a rematch with Red, the Black team won 18-4. N’Garsanet, who averaged 3.1 points last season, scored 13 points.
N’Garsanet and EeTisha Riddle, a 6-foot-3 forward, will be important to Missouri’s inside game. N’Garsanet totaled 24 points and eight rebounds in five scrimmage games. Riddle stepped up her game and finished with 10 points, three steals, and six rebounds.
“They’re (N’Garsanet and Riddle) getting better and better, a little bit more comfortable,” Stein said. “We’re giving them the ball at better times, instead of just forcing it in.”
The Tigers’ offense revolved around transition baskets by pushing the basketball. When Bond was on the floor, she controlled the tempo by dishing the ball and scoring. She finished the scrimmage with 17 points and eight assists.
The scrimmage allowed Stein to see how freshmen Kassie Drew, Crystal Howard and Brittany Mannings would react in game situations.
Stein said the freshmen are “very good” and that “they’re just making mistakes as far as adjustments.” They combined for 16 points.
There will have to be continued improvement in the squad to stay in contention with a strong Big 12 Conference, but Stein said that she has seen progress.
“I think that seeing a little bit more awareness of where we’re supposed to be and when,” Stein said. “We’re still making some mistakes, but at least now we know we made the mistake and where we need to be.”
The Tigers will have their first exhibition game on Nov. 12 in Paige Arena against Central Missouri State.