Sometimes, you’ve got to fight fire with fire.
Georgia Southern has had to hang its hat on defense throughout the season under first-year head coach Chris Vozab, but that may not be enough against perennial Southern Conference powerhouse Chattanooga.
The Lady Mocs (10-3, 3-1 SoCon) host the Eagles (2-12, 1-4) today at 6 p.m.
“We have to come in with the poise and composure to execute better offensively than we did (in Wednesday’s 56-42 loss to Furman),” Vozab said. “We’re going to see pressure, and we’ve got to be sharp executing our cuts and getting where we need to get. We have to attack the rim with the intent of finishing, as opposed to hoping we get fouled.”
One player that was on the attack against Furman was Anna Claire Knight, who is second on the team with 9 points per game but made only 3 of 15 shots against the Lady Paladins.
Knight is one of only two Eagles to have started each game this season.
“Anna Claire definitely has the green light,” Vozab said. “She can get her shot off pretty well, she can get to the rim a little bit, with the help of a ball screen, especially, and we just keep telling her that she’s got to be aggressive every time.”
Two post players —Danielle Spencer and Sierra Kirkland — combined for 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting, but the rest of the team was just 8 of 54 from the field against Furman.
“I think we got a bit frantic,” Vozab said. “We attacked the initial pressure with good aggressiveness, but as we got to the rim, I think we wanted something good to happen instead of making something happen.”
Timid won’t work against Chattanooga forward Ashlen Dewart, a junior who stands at 6-foot-3 and averages 16 points and seven rebounds.
“She is a really, really strong presence — very skilled, great hands — and she’s not a kid you can allow to get deep in the paint at all,” Vozab said. “She’s very, very good, and she’s surrounded by shooters. Our scouting report defense has been a strength for our team, and that’s something that we’re going to have to rely on the rest of the way. I think we’ve found ways to stay in games because our defense has been stingy and solid.”
The area that needs work is the desire to score.
“When we do those drills, we talk about how we want to finish and get fouls,” Vozab said. “We are going to see teams all year that are going to be more athletic than us, but there’s still no better way to handle pressure than to attack it.”
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.