When the TWU basketball players returned to campus and resumed practices last week, head coach Beth Jillson wanted to make sure they were prepared for Thursday’s start of the second half of the season.
So to shake off some of the rust from the Christmas break, Jillson scheduled a few two-a-day workouts in addition to plenty of film study and weight room work.
The main focus, Jillson said, is to improve the Pioneers’ offensive attack by creating and converting more field goals than they did in the fall portion of the schedule, which left TWU at 3-7 overall and 1-3 in Lone Star Conference play.
“There’s no school right now, so there are no distractions and all we have to do is focus on basketball,” Jillson said. “We’ve used the time to be in the film room, to do some work in the weight room and, of course, to practice.
“We’re getting a lot of shots in,” she added. “You can never get enough shots in.”
TWU classes don’t resume until Jan. 15, but NCAA Division II regulations allowed full basketball practices to resume a couple of days after Christmas following a mandatory seven-day break.
The Pioneers want to improve their shooting, starting at 6 p.m. Thursday at West Texas A&M. In the season’s first 10 games, opponents connected on 28 more field goals than TWU (226-198) and hit a higher percentage than the Pioneers (.384-.361).
The Pioneers made 29 3-pointers and shot only 20 percent from behind the arc, while their opponents connected on 44 treys at a 26 percent clip.
“We’re better shooters than we’re showing,” Jillson said. “We’ve just got to be confident, step up and knock down our shots.”
One offensive area where the Pioneers have matched their opponents is at the free-throw line. TWU has hit 69 percent of its free throws, which ranks fifth in the LSC, and has made 139 attempts, compared with 141 for opponents.
Still, just one Pioneer has been able to average in double figures. Sophomore guard Toree Mason leads the team with 10.6 points per game, with forward Ria Pateraki at 9.7
“Defensively we’ve been holding some teams to 60 points or less, which is one of our goals,” Jillson said. “We’ve just got to score more points. We’ve just got to be more aggressive and make more shots.”
After visiting Eastern New Mexico on Saturday, the Pioneers will return home to face Abilene Christian next Wednesday at Kitty Magee Arena.
On the road in 2013
The start of the New Year has the Pioneers playing five of their next seven games on the road. This week’s journey west will be the longest in terms of miles, with other January trips scheduled to San Angelo, Stephenville and Lawton, Okla.
“I haven’t thought twice about it,” Jillson said. “We’ve got two good home games mixed in there, and really it’ll be a good time to get away, get in a little team bonding and just be together.”
The West Texas A&M Lady Buffs (5-8, 1-3 LSC) have won three of their last four games, while Eastern New Mexico (2-10, 1-3) beat BYU-Hawaii in the Alaska-Anchorage tournament on Dec. 19 for its first win of the season and then defeated Midwestern State on Monday to make it two in a row.