Gametracker:right this way
Tennessee is 4-0 with a win over a top-15 team and three teams who were receiving votes. Oakland is 0-4. You can probably guess how this game is going to end. But hey, let's see if we can pump them up a bit.
They've got four players who average over 9 points a game! Olivia Nash averages 12.8 ppg (11.8 shots), Elenia Popkey averages 12.3 ppg (12.8 shots), Kim Bee averages 9.8 ppg (7.5 shots), and Victoria Lipscomb averages 8.0 ppg (9.3 shots). Wait, that's 43.9 ppg on 41.4 shots per game. Let's try something else. Popkey averages 38.5% from beyond the arc! (Sure, but nobody else is over 36%, and both Lipscomb and Amy Carlton are under 30%.)
Great. Hmmmmm. Hey, Nash averages 10.3 boards per game! (Three of Tennessee's starters average at least 9 boards per game.) They have three players over 6'0"! (Only Nash gets playing time, and Tennessee only has four players under 6'0".)Two players have positive A/TO ratios! (Ariel Massgenale has more assists than both of them combined.)
So yeah, this ain't going to be pretty. Still bitter about last night's football game? Take out your frustrations on a poor overmatched opponent here, but only after these bullet points:
- Get the efficiency back on track. Bashaara Graves is averaging 11.5 ppg on 10.5 shots per game; Meighan Simmons - yeah, you knew this was coming - is averaging 10.0 ppg on 12.0 shots per game. Cierra Burdick? 5.3 ppg on 9.8 shots per game. None of these players are getting to the line at all - Simmons leads with 2.5 FTA/game - which is the first step. (Graves is the most likely to benefit from this; she averaged 5.3 FTA/game last year and 0.59 shots/FTA - I don't know what the utility of that second number is, but it seems like a possible measure of effectively drawing fouls.)
- Manage the midrange game. Simmons and Burdick are both shooting a lot of midrange jumpers, which are not efficient. They also don't normally lend themselves to drawing FTs. Burdick at least has gotten herself to the glass, but Simmons - and I don't know why I'm saying this, but here we go - might be better served taking more shots from beyond the arc. I mean, if you're shooting 30% from the field - which, it should be noted, is terrible - you may as well put up threes.
- Figure out offensive spacing. Massengale, for the record, has figured this out. Her efficiency numbers are incredible - 14.3 ppg on 9.5 shots (deadly from beyond the arc - 47.4% so far), 7 assists per 40 minutes, 4.5 boards per 40 minutes, 3.6 steals per 40 minutes - and she's simply taking what the defense offers her. With a strong interior game of Graves, Isabelle Harrison (10.8 ppg on 5.8 shots(!) thanks to 5.3 FTA/game), and Mercedes Russell (10.5 ppg on 7.8 shots, plus 4.5 FTA/game), the interior is going to draw attention. That leaves a bunch of spacing options, not the least of which should include corner threes and dishes to open shots. If that sounds like Massengale's game, then you're on to something. (Also, this is a good spot to note Graves has 2.5 assists per game.)
- Andraya Carter watch: 20 minutes per game, 8.3 ppg on 3.5 shots(!), 2.8 boards per game, 1.3 assists per game, 1 steal per game, and 0.3 blocks per game. Yeah, she's useful.
- Mercedes Russell watch: why not run the offense through her for a few minutes? Her decision-making should be plenty for this game, and since she's got at least 3-4 inches on everyone from Oakland. This might get unfair.
- Ariel Massengale height watch: checking in at 5'7" according to the media guide. Actual height may vary.
- Block party! Harrison, Russell, and Nia Moore(!) are up over a block a game now. Heck, Nia Moore is averaging one block per 4:45, which is insane (and totally not sustainable over a 40 minute period, but whatever).
This is something above an exhibition game to be sure, but Oakland is not good. Tennessee has a few things they need to work on - mostly shot selection and efficiency - and I'd be perfectly happy sacrificing some offensive rebounding for, oh, getting a few players above 40% from the floor. Keep your hand up, Meighan.
Prediction: 96-61 Tennessee.
Empty bench watch: well, of course. Somewhere around 10 minutes of the first half.