December 4, 2011

SPORTS: Women's Basketball Ends Summit Stand Even

by Michael Hadley

With the odd Summit League scheduling, IUPUI's women's basketball team was able to gauge their standing against the "Dakota State" teams over the last weekend. Austin Parkinson's team may have finished 1-1 on the weekend, but there was plenty to learn from the two games.

The Times Are Changin'

The women's program at IUPUI has been a laughing stock over the last two season. With zero road wins since 2009 and just four total wins last year, there wasn't much good to be found across the board. But this year is already different. This year there is change in the air. IUPUI is 4-4, not a stellar record but they have already reached last year's mark and did so through six games. Their three losses this year have come to Indiana State (with only eight healthy players), nationally ranked Purdue, tournament host Kansas, and three-time defending Summit League Tournament champion South Dakota State. In all but one of those games, the Jaguars played right with their opponent, simply running out of steam as the games wore on. Parkinson's ladies are struggling for offensive identity, relying mostly on guard Katie Comello and forwards Kerah Nelson and Nevena Markovic. All three have yet to combine for big games, and no one else has been able to put together more than one or two performances in a row. As a team the ladies are shooting only 37 percent from the floor (27 percent from three) and have only scored an average of 57 points per game.

But, despite the offensive struggles, IUPUI has been able to push the tempo defensively and average an incredible 10-plus steals per game. The impressive play on defense doesn't stop there - they are keeping opponents to under 60 points per game and are creating over 20 turnovers a game with their lock-down defense. DeeDee Bellamy leads her teammates with 22 steals in eight games played. With a decently potent offense, IUPUI will become especially dangerous.

The biggest thing keeping the Jaguars from being the proverbial "team to beat" is Alex Thompson's knee injury. Point guard Emily Phillips has done a fantastic job, and Comello has been a fantastic combo guard. Since DeeDee's main focus is defense with some point duties peppered in, there still isn't a true shooting guard on the roster. That's where Thompson's shooting capabilities would come in. Comello takes some amazing shots, but for the most part it seems she is forcing herself to be the main scorer outside of the paint.

News and Notes

  • Kerah Nelson was kept out of the starting lineup for the first time this season on Friday for disciplinary reasons stemming from practice. Nevena Markovic started in her place.
  • Alex Thompson's knee injury will keep her out for - at the very least - the majority of the season.
  • IUPUI had a winning record (4-3) for the first time since finishing the 2008-2009 season 16-15.
  • Indiana University will come to The Jungle for the first time on Sunday, December 11. IUPUI lost 75-52 on November 15, 2009.

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