By JOHN BAUERNFEIND | IDS
POSTED AT 12:45 AM ON NOV. 8, 2013
The 2013-2014 IU women’s basketball team will begin its season at 8 p.m. Saturday against Oakland at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers, who finished last season 11-19, are trying to quell anticipation before their opening game.
“It’s hard to keep the emotions down,” freshman guard Larryn Brooks said. “It’s our first game. We can’t be too nervous.”
The team returns two starters, sophomore guard Nicole Bell and senior forward Sasha Chaplin, from last year’. Chaplin said that, this being the second year under the tutelage of IU Coach Curt Miller, the team is ready to take the next step.
The Oakland Golden Grizzlies were picked to finish eighth in the Preseason Horizon League Women’s Basketball Poll, which was voted on by the league’s coaches. Last season, they finished with a record of 9-20.
Oakland hired a new coach, Jeff Tungate, over the summer. Previously, Tungate spent six seasons as the associate head coach of Oakland’s men’s basketball team.
“First and foremost, there’s always a lot of energy and emotion with a new head coach,” Miller said. “We’ve got to expect Oakland’s going to come out ready to go, fired up. We’ve got to match that passion from the beginning.”
Miller said his team will have to prepare for Oakland’s dribble drive offense, which he said Tungate has brought over from his time coaching the men’s team.
“They’re going to spread you out and try to dribble drive,” Miller said.
Oakland returns its top two scorers from last season, sophomores Olivia Nash and Elena Popkey. In her freshman year, Nash averaged 11.9 points and 8 rebounds per game, leading the team in both categories.
Popkey averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Miller said Oakland is an experienced team.
“He’s inherited not a deep team, but a veteran team in terms of playing time,” he said. “He’s got a lot of shooters and a lot of weapons to bring at us.”
Chaplin said in the last few days of practice before the season begins, the team has been working on a multitude of things.
“Keeping tempo up,” she said. “Running, getting that under our belt. Inside looks, crashing the boards aggressively.”
Miller shared a similar sentiment to Chaplin’s.
“We continue to work on ourselves, and add things to the playbook and ways to
attack any opponent,” Miller said.
At Big Ten Media Day, Miller stressed the Hoosiers’ goals for the upcoming season were to exceed expectations.
Chaplin, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility for this season, said she and her teammates are ready for the season to get underway.
“Work hard, win games and enjoy the season,” she said.