An occasional series about the University of Rhode Island Women’s Basketball Team and Coach Cathy Inglese as she tries to turnaround a losing program.
By Laura Pappano
The game got away.
The Richmond Spiders harassed the Rams, orchestrating a 66-53 victory in URI’s Ryan Center yesterday. It was yet another tough loss for URI’s quest to be an A-10 contender. They are now 0-3 in conference play and 6-11 overall.
How did it happen? After all, URI led the entire first half and was up by one at the break. More than that, the Rams were winning the battle of the boards. At halftime, URI had recorded 31 rebounds to the Spiders 13 and by the end of the game they had a 42-30 rebound advantage. So they can get their hands on the ball.
So how DID it happen?
Richmond simply capitalized on the fact that while URI is growing – sharper, faster, quicker – they don’t yet play consistent ball. A too-fast, eager push down the court –holding the promise of two – suddenly is racing back the other way, delivered through the opposite hoop by the time anyone has figured out what happened. This is not, after all, the era of old-style women’s basketball, slow it down and set it up. This is fast, up-tempo ball that at times looks perfectly acrobatic, but that requires a level of control that is stunning. URI has it — in flashes and spurts. But not on every play. And not enough yesterday to beat Richmond in the whole game.
The other stats tell that story: Richmond scored 26 of their 66 points off URI turnovers. Plus 17 points off fast breaks. By contrast, URI scored 8 points off turnovers and just two off fast breaks.
But — alas — this is why rebuilding is so frustrating. It is not like flipping a switch to go from losing to winning. It is a climb. It is about reaching for better control, better moves, better technique — and then making it the ordinary, the normal, way things are done. “That’s what makes teams mediocre,” says Coach Cathy Inglese. “It’s not all talent. It’s focus and consistency.”
While Inglese doesn’t SEEM like a very patient person — particularly if you watch on the sideline of a game — she understand that everything cannot change at once. The teams has pushed through a string of double (and even a triple) OT games, showing that even those several ended as “L’s” they were in it and fighting. They were competitive, just not competitive enough.
Inglese wants more energetic play — and this year it is obvious that her players are fitter and faster. “I was really pleased with our energy,” Inglese said afterwards. “We did a good job on the boards, but it came down to turnovers. It was turnovers.”
Game stats showed that URI yesterday did a lot of things well. Unfortunately, the only number that counts is the one on the scoreboard at the final buzzer. Yesterday it was 66-53. On Wednesday, they take on a tough Charlotte team. Look for progress — but just be willing to measure it by more than than a single set of digits.
Coming on Wednesday: Q&A with URI Captain Megan Shoniker.