By JOHN BAUERNFEIND | IDS
POSTED AT 11:26 PM ON DEC. 10, 2013
After his team’s Tuesday morning practice, IU Coach Curt Miller huddled his team together and told them that their Wednesday night opponent, Milwaukee, would be the best offensive team they had played. He reiterated that belief when breaking down the Hoosiers’ matchup with the Panthers.
“Without question they’re the best offensive team that we’ll play up to this point,” Miller said. “They can really score, and they want to get in shootouts. They want the game up-tempo.
“They take quick shots, and they add the amount of possessions.”
The Hoosiers (9-0) are the last remaining undefeated Big Ten team. When they face the Panthers (2-6) tonight, the Hoosiers will be aiming for a 10-game winning streak to begin its season, something the program last accomplished at the start of the 1994-95 season.
IU enters the game averaging 79 points per game while limiting its opponents to just 59.7. Milwaukee comes in averaging 69.6 points per game, while allowing an average of 80.1 points to its opponents.
The Panthers’ top scorer is senior guard Angela Rodriguez, who averages 18.4 points per game. According to Miller, Rodriguez was recruited by BCS programs in high school, but decided to stay close to home and chose Milwaukee. He continued by saying Rodriguez could very well be playing in the Big Ten right now.
“Rodriguez is a prolific scorer,” he said. “She’s one of the premier shooters at the mid-major level. You’ve got to start your energy with her.”
The IU player most likely to spend lengths of the game guarding Rodriguez is freshman guard Larryn Brooks, who averages slightly more points per game than
Rodriguez with 18.8.
In the Hoosiers’ previous home game against Virginia Tech last Wednesday, Brooks played all 40 minutes of the game and used the majority of her defensive efforts on freshman guard Vanessa Panousis.
Panousis went scoreless, and after the game, Miller credited Brooks with shutting down who Miller thought was an integral part of the team’s success.
Brooks said she is anticipating her matchup with Rodriguez, who she says will be even harder to defend.
“Yeah that’s definitely the matchup right now,” Brooks said, referring to guarding Rodriguez. “She’s very good, I would say 20 times better than who I played on Virginia Tech. Really, it’s gonna take a team defense. I didn’t shut down the Virginia Tech point guard by myself.”
In every one of its six losses, Milwaukee has been outscored by double digits. In its most recent game, against Bowling Green, Milwaukee lost convincingly by a score of 87-64.
Still, Miller believes his team will need to score points — lots of them — to defeat the Panthers tonight and move to 10-0.
“They take quick shots,” Miller said. “They’re very aggressive early in the shot clock looking for offense. It’s going to be a shootout, and we need to score points in order to beat them.”
Brooks said the team has continued to maintain its focus in lieu of the start of the Big Ten slate of games, which is just more than three weeks away.
“Yeah we’re undefeated in non-conference, but we’re gonna have bigger games coming up, and we’re just trying to get ready for that,” she said. “Working harder in practice and exceeding expectations.”