I've sat with this post open, waiting to be written, for two full days and change now. The fact is, after two exhibitions, we've learned very little we didn't already know about Women's Basketball, and haven't narrowed down our options much either.
A few very broad (or uneventful, or both) takeaways from two games.
Lineup distribution. We have a rough idea of who the pre-Oursler starters will be: Joanna Smith, Stephanie Reid, the Sisters Ups, and Mirte Scheper started both games. I'm not entirely sold on Liisa and Katherine Ups, but by all accounts the former has been putting in the hours over the summer and the latter looks at least comfortable in a nominal small forward role.
The second string, or even first few off the bench, is totally up in the air. I had hoped that with two exhibitions we'd start to see the makings of a rotation in the second, but in 26 combined player-appearances over Clarion and Daemen, only twice did someone play more than 20 minutes and only thrice less than ten. Furthermore, of the subs, only Gabi Bade and Camera Miley put forward similar performances in both.
I suspect that we're going to see similar dives into the bench into the regular season, especially given the game-to-game inconsistency we saw from much of the roster. I do have to think (hope), though, that Smith and Reid, at a minimum, will see close to 30 minutes.
What's the offense? We knew coming into this season that not only would forward experience be limited, but even in style this year's group didn't have the physicality of Baccas-Sharkey-Malone. Through two games, it's hard to identify what this team's bread and butter is on offense, other than Reid and Smith pushing in transition.
From distance the Bulls were still too aggressive against Daemen, hitting just 7 of 30 three-point shots, and an 8-20 performance against Clarion, while better, didn't feel wildly different. Smith at least has maintained her confidence from late last season, and Bade and Liisa Ups each hit a few, as well. It's probably even better news than it looks considering the minutes distribution that UB averaged 19 assists over two games.
The defense is familiar. The new quarters and foul shooting rules are going to kill this team if it gets overaggressive on defense, but it doesn't look like FLJ is changing her style. Reid and Smith generated a number of highlight plays getting steals off high pressure, and both, Bade, and Karin Moss (x2) had games with three or more steals.
Moss in particular deserves recognition for committing no fouls in 26 minutes, a notable change from her usual statline as a junior. The offensive numbers still aren't there, as she was in assists and points outdone by Camera Miley, but its an important step forward for one of the team's better perimeter defenders.
The team is bigger than you remember. Each of the freshman guards are 5-8 or 5-9, and Tamara Brcina and Mirte Scheper stand 6-2 and 6-4. Gabi Bade in particular was willing to work down low for rebounds, and between her, the Sisters Ups and Ayoleka Sodade Coack Jack has plenty of options for guards and wings who can get in and fight on the glass.
With so many young, new names and nearly everyone making it in, we get a good look at most.
I wouldn't make much of Gabi Bade's shooting struggles against Daemen. Look instead at the body of her work; rebounding on the glass, a bunch of steals, and 11-11 from the free throw line over the two games. Even if the shots aren't falling, it's valuable to a team when someone can get to the line 11 times in 32 minutes. I've been high on Bade for a long time, and if she can reign the trigger a bit, she can contribute right away. There were a number of passes this week that would rival Reid's best.
Brittany Morrison has always made her living as someone playing bigger than her height, and we saw that against Clarion. Against Daemen we were reminded she's still a freshman, as she fouled out in just nine minutes. As Amy Audibert was saying on the ESPN3 broadcast, however, Morrison has the look of someone with an instinctual feel for the post game; how to work around defenders and get the ball to the rim.
Ayoleka Sodade looked at times like she was rushing in the offense, and shot just 3-13 for the week, but put up good secondary stats, especially in the uglier game against Daemen.
Tamara Brcina didn't see much time at all.
Mirte Scheper put up lines very similar to what we saw in the Euro Championships over the summer: 9 points and 5 rebounds one game, and fewer points but still 5 boards in more minutes in the other. She seems to have a starting role locked down.
Mariah Suchan and Courtney Wilkins aren't new, but we saw as much from them this week as we have ever. I was impressed with Suchan, who put up 6 points and 7 boards despite a tough game from the floor against Daemen thanks to strong shooting from the line, while Wilkins hoisted up five threes in just ten minutes against the Wildcats, hitting only one.