Story and graphic by Alejandro Ramos News Editor
After an eventful summer, women’s basketball is back with a new head coach and a reloaded roster for the 2017–2018 season. It’s a team that has the potential to become something truly special.
Unfortunately, it’s going to take some time for them to reach that potential, as evidenced by the past weekend.
“We’re asking young kids to come in and be impact players right away,” said first-year coach Jeff Cammon. “I just think it’s going to take some time.”
The team opened up the season against Pepperdine on Nov. 10, which resulted in a 83–71 loss. After a competitive first half, they began to struggle on both ends of the floor. The offense became stagnant and the defense crumbled in the face of their more experienced opponents. Their focus waned as the game progressed and they became more prone to turnovers, fouls and missed shots. Their second game against Montana State on Sunday didn’t go much better. Many of the same issues that plagued the team in their first game came up again, and they fell to the visitors 62–51.
At face value, this weekend was about as rough a start to the season as it could get. The Beach lost the pair of games by over 11 points each, but not for a lack of trying on defense. It was their offense, or lack thereof, that doomed them. Shots just weren’t going in, as evidenced by their shooting percentage. Throughout two games, the Beach made 34% of their shots, while their opponents made 43%.
The real culprit was the 3-point shot, which the Beach struggled immensely with. They only made 17% of their attempts throughout both games. Surprisingly, senior guard Jessica Gertz, who led last year’s team in 3-point shooting, failed to make any in 9 attempts.
The team is comprised of more than just one player, and they all have aspects they can improve on as teammates.
“I think Jess will shoot the ball better, said Cammon after the game on Nov 12. “You know she probably hasn’t shot the ball this bad, but she’ll bounce back. I think throughout the season she’ll do a great job of knocking down all those shots.”
The numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. Despite her bad shooting, Gertz looked calm and poised on the court. She picked her shots well and opted to pass if she wasn’t able to get a good look. Like Cammon said, she should bounce back from this slump.
That said, the team is comprised of more than just one player, and they all have aspects they can improve on as teammates. The short explanation is that they just lack experience playing with a new team at a new level.
What they lack in experience, though, they make up for in raw skill and talent. Coach Cammon did his homework and brought in a class of freshmen that may become the key to making this team a serious threat to other teams. Combine that with the leadership and experience of returning lettermen and you have what could be a recipe for success.
A focal point in the first game for the Beach was freshman center Emma Merriweather. Her presence in the post gave the Beach an edge as she was an option for scoring and rebounding. She finished with a double double with 11 points and 13 rebounds against Pepperdine.
“She’s going to be a problem for a lot of schools,” said Cammon.
Other standouts of the game were freshmen guards Ma’Qhi Berry and Shanaijah Davison. While the two play the same position, they play with contrasting styles that show off their individual talents.
Berry plays an intense game that opts for more one-on-one action and aggressive drives. It didn’t always work for her, though. There were times it looked like she was going too fast and she missed crucial layups. The shots she did make came from plays in which she took the time to slow down at the right moments.
“There’s so much she can do with a basketball,” said Cammon. “She can score and she can make people better.”
Davison, on the other hand, plays deceptively. She lures her defender in before leaving them in the dust. It’s a sight to see, especially when she gets a running start on a fastbreak and takes it straight to the hole. It’s the reason she posted 10 points on Friday, then 20 points on Sunday in an electrifying performance against Montana State.
“When this kid in transition, she’s hard to guard,” said Cammon of Davison’s performance.
Despite incredible individual performances, this group of ladies still has to figure out how to come together as a team. It’s going to be a long season, though. With only two games down, there’s still plenty of time for them to become a strong contender in the Big West.