It might take considerable time and patience before the Missouri women’s basketball team works out all of its early season kinks.
Coming off of a bumpy four-game stretch, the team hopes to right itself today in a 7 p.m. home opener against Evansville at Mizzou Arena.
Missouri (2-2) has one clear advantage against Evansville (2-0). Evansville coach Tricia Cullop said Missouri’s height could cause issues for her team.
“No. 14 (junior center Christelle N’Garsanet) poses a great threat inside,” said Cullop, who stressed that her team would need to box out and be aggressive on the boards.
The Tigers’ bench also might hamper the Purple Aces’ game plan.
“We like to run,” Cullop said. “I just don’t know how much they’re going to let us.”
Evansville holds an 0-5 record against Missouri, but the teams’ most recent meeting was a 78-72 decision.
Missouri coach Cindy Stein does not have the luxury of knowing who will lead Evansville, and Cullop is glad.
“I coach this team and I can’t tell you who’s going to step up,” Cullop said. “That’s a nice problem to have.”
The Tigers lost two lopsided games the past two weeks. They fell to Iowa 75-54 on Nov. 20 and to New Mexico 67-48 on Friday.
After Stein reshuffled the starting lineup, Missouri blew out Providence on Saturday, though the victory loses its luster considering the Friars’ 4-23 finish last season.
The Tigers’ start hasn’t been all bad. There have been sparks of potential along the way.
On Monday, freshman guard Kassie Drew was named the Big 12 Conference Rookie of the Week. Drew scored 20 points against Providence, including a hot streak of 14 points in the first 13 minutes. She finished with four 3-pointers.
The most recent Missouri player to earn Rookie of the Week honors was Evan Unrau in 2001.
Junior guard LaToya Bond produced a career-high 25 points against Northern Illinois on Nov. 19, while other Tigers have stepped up as well, including sophomore forwards EeTisha Riddle and Carlynn Savant.
Riddle had a career-high 11 points against Northern Illinois, while Savant posted a career-high 13 rebounds in the team’s loss to New Mexico.
Bond said the team is better for the adversity it faced over the past couple of weeks.
“When things start going bad we have to pick each other up. I think that was our biggest problem, our attitude,” she said. “When things were going bad everybody wanted to hang their heads and blame each other. But after this weekend, I think we’re really playing together as a team.”