Turnovers plagued TWU in back-to-back losses at the Colorado Christian tournament over the weekend. With Lone Star Conference play starting this week, head coach Beth Jillson knows the time is now to find a solution to the Pioneers’ ball handling woes.
“We have to make better decisions with the ball,” Jillson said. “We shouldn’t be making as many turnovers as we are. We have to be able to handle the pressure and make people pay.”
In a seven-point loss to Colorado Christian and a 63-40 pounding at the hands of Northwest Missouri State in a 24-hour span, the Pioneers (2-3) got rattled early by full-court pressure. And when they were able to break those presses, the Pioneers frequently turned the ball over when confronted with pressure defense in half-court situations.
In Saturday’s 78-71 loss to Colorado Christian, TWU committed 18 turnovers that led to 17 points. On Sunday, TWU coughed the ball up 33 times, allowing Northwest Missouri to register 38 points.
Through five games, the Pioneers have committed 111 turnovers for an average of 22.2 per game. Their opponents are averaging 12.8 steals.
Five TWU players have 14 or more turnovers on the young season.
“Our preconference games really exposed a lot of our weaknesses,” Jillson said. “It’s frustrating because we’ve practiced a lot better than we’ve played. We had two of our better practices before we left for Colorado. They were communicating, there was a lot of energy, and they were going hard. It wasn’t like they were holding back.”
Jillson says improved communication on the floor and an aggressive attack against pressing defenses will help the Pioneers.
“We need people to step up on the court during the game,” she said. “We have to control what we can control. We can control communicating on the court and having energy. They know they’re better than they’ve been playing, and I know they’re better.”
Conference play begins
The Pioneers and seven other conference teams begin league play today. TWU visits Texas A&M-Commerce at 7 p.m.
The Pioneers enter LSC play hoping to shake off a three-game losing streak.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve played five games,” Jillson said. “The outcomes haven’t been what we’ve wanted, but we still have five games under our belt. A lot of the other teams we’ll be playing have only played two or three games.”
The Lions (2-0) are one of two LSC teams that have played only twice this season. Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville have played only three games. TWU plays host to the TexAnns at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kitty Magee Arena.
“I think it’s an advantage to have played five games,” Jillson said. “Hopefully that will help us in conference play. I had hoped to get all the kinks out before conference play.”
Free basketball clinic slated for Saturday
A free youth basketball clinic will be conducted by TWU coaches and players Saturday immediately following TWU’s home game against Tarleton State.
The clinic is open to boys and girls in eighth grade and below and will last approximately one hour. Jillson, her staff and members of the team will provide instruction.
All participants must have a registration form/liability waiver completed prior to the clinic. Registration will take place prior to the game in the Kitty Magee Arena lobby. Participants receive free admission to the game and will get a free basketball.
“Our numbers for this clinic have grown every year,” Jillson said. “This is a great opportunity to receive instruction from collegiate players and coaches.”
More information is available by contacting assistant athletic director Jeff Bowerman at 940-898-2385 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Team gets early intro
Fans will get a preseason glimpse of the 2012-13 Pioneers at 2 p.m. Sunday when the team conducts its annual Holiday Spectacular at Kitty Magee Arena.
Admission is free to the exhibition meet that will showcase this year’s squad. The event will feature Christmas decor, music and food. Free T-shirts will be given out to the first 150 fans, and free cookies and drinks will be available while supplies last.
The meet also will support a good cause, as fans are encouraged to bring canned food donations for the TWU Food Pantry.
“Hopefully, people will come out to get a sneak peek of what our team will be like this coming season,” said second-year head coach Lisa Bowerman. “The holiday theme definitely makes this meet a little more entertaining for our fans.”
Following the meet, children and adults can have free pictures taken with Santa Claus.
Jablonska honored again
Senior right-side hitter Viktorija Jablonska collected another honor for her trophy case recently when she was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s All-South Region team.
For Jablonska, who also earned first-team All-Lone Star Conference honors for the second time, the AVCA honor marks the second year in a row she’s earned regional recognition. She’s the 11th Pioneer to earn all-region volleyball honors and the second TWU player to be recognized more than once.
Jablonska was named first-team All-Lone Star for the second consecutive season last week and was selected to the all-tournament team after recording two triple-doubles at the LSC tourney.
Jablonska closed out her TWU career by leading the Pioneers with 402 kills, 25 aces and a .312 hitting percentage. She notched eight triple-doubles this season and registered double-digit kills in 23 games.