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Key Questions for Women's Basketball in MAC Week V

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Matt Gritzmacher

At 3-4 in the MAC, UB will look to get to .500 in conference for the first time this season, but has to wait until Saturday to do so in this one-game week. Before we get on to this week's talking points, relive the 1-1 week in our immediate rearview mirror:

Buffalo Bulls 47, Northern Illinois Huskies 43: Second-half offense the difference for Women's Basketball
If you're sad about men's hoops vs Ohio, come look at this great game!

Women fall cold in OT, lose thriller
36 strong minutes gave way to four thrilling and five more agonizing ones tonight in Toledo.

And last week's points of extra focus:

What happens post-Rachael Gregory? Is it as simple as 'More Ayana Bradley'? - It might be. Bradley averaged 20 minutes, 5.5 points, and 4.5 rebounds a game. Those numbers are below Gregory's, but not egregiously so. The Toledo loss in particular would have been a different game with one more player, and Rachael's penchant for getting to the line. UB earned just seven free throw attempts. But, it doesn't seem like much is different for the Bulls, stylistically. 

Can Stephanie Reid keep it up? - Believe. I love her, the coaching staff loves her, you should love her. Sports are more fun that way. Reid wasn't great after a stellar opening salvo against Toledo, but was still a better option than anything else. Against NIU she took a step forward with 8 rebounds and 2 steals (and a block!).

With the forwards UB has, it's not about the scoring for Reid, though 7.5 ppg this week helped. It's about taking care of the ball, getting it to her teammates, and that nose for the ball off the glass.

And she's only been here a month, as of... sometime today.

Are we getting The Truth back? - It's tempting to say 'maybe,' but I'm not sure. Malone had OK raw numbers and good secondary stats against Toledo, but was 1-9 from three. Against NIU she pulled down 5 boards in only 19 minutes, but wasn't much of a factor otherwise.

Has the defense turned a corner? - It depends on how much weight you want to put on the second half of the Toledo game, in which the Rockets clawed back exclusively from the foul line as UB ran out of gas, stuck playing with only eight players.  To provide context and back up why I think that's significant, Buffalo committed just 7 fouls in the first half, but 13 in the second and 7 in the quick five-minute overtime.

In shooting percentage terms, UB held the Huskies below 35%, but were victimized by Toledo's outside shooting. In neither game did they hit their steals/game average

***
With only one game this week, there's a little less to focus on, and further extenuating circumstances lessen that even moreso.

How much will EMU be able to focus on basketball?

Please note as I say this that I don't know if it's best and healthiest for the Eagles to "focus on basketball," but it is a help when it comes to winning basketball games. Obviously as a UB fan, I am interested in Buffalo having the advantage on Sunday, but as a person I am more interested in the EMU Basketball and Athletics family healing as best is possible after the passing of junior forward Shannise Heady in an automobile accident this weekend.

EMU does play at Toledo midweek, but Saturday will be the first home game for the Eagles since the tragedy. It's going to be a heavy atmosphere, and for the second time this season (Niagara), Buffalo catches a team dealing with circumstances outside of the basketball lines.

If Mackenzie Loesing is back, how will that go? If not, how will the continued short bench go?

We're near-certain that junior Mackenzie Loesing suffered a concussion against Ball State, and we are certain that she missed the last two games. As I covered above, working with only eight players was a big factor in the Toledo loss, though things went a little better with Camera Miley and Katherine Ups chipping in 9 minutes total against NIU.

Loesing's season has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency, and missing what will amount to two weeks (-plus?) to a concussion doesn't help. But, it would be good to see her back.

Will UB capitalize on the height advantage again?

Like NIU, EMU isn't very tall. Only one Eagle 6'0" or taller plays more than 15 minutes a game, and combined the hosts get only 31.8 minutes per game from six footers. Heady played 23 minutes a game at 5'11".

For comparison, Kristen Sharkey, Christa Baccas, and Alexus Malone all average around 30 minutes a game on their own. UB can dominate the boards, and should work entirely from inside the lane, as they did in the second half against the Huskies.

Go Bulls.