Absence of star players is hurting AU women’s basketball this season, but only slightly
Eagles are having issues on the defensive end but improving on offensive numbers
After an last year that led to a NCAA tournament appearance, AU’s women’s basketball has come out a bit slower this year. Last season’s 26-7 record (and 16-2 in the Patriot League) has turned into a slightly more disappointing 11-8 so far this season. However, when analyzing the team’s statistics, it is difficult to fully understand why.
So far this season, the Eagles are actually shooting a slightly higher percentage than last season (41.6 percent versus 40.5 percent). They are taking more threes per game and making more (6.6/18.4) than they were last season, now shooting 36 percent versus 32.2 percent.
However, in terms of ball handling, the Eagles have been slightly less polished than they were last year. They are averaging 15.1 turnovers per game this season compared to last season’s 12.9. While they are turning the ball over more this season, their assists per game number has stayed roughly the same (14.7).
What does this higher number of turnovers mean? The Eagles have been taking fewer shots per game, making possessions slightly less efficient. Last season they averaged 56.4 attempted field goals per game, whereas this season they are attempting only 53.2 per game.
The clearest difference between last season and this season can be seen on the defensive end. Last season, opponents averaged 57.8 points per game on 35.6 percent shooting. This season, AU’s opponents are averaging 60.9 points per game on 38.1 percent shooting. The Eagles averaged 7.2 steals and 2.9 blocks per game last season, whereas now they are averaging 6.7 steals and 2.6 blocks per game.
These differences between last season and this current season come down to team numbers. When talking about individual player success, things get a little more interesting.
In her senior year last season, star guard Emily Kinneston averaged 15.4 points per game to go along with 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals. Her absence has been felt so far this season as the scoring and playmaking burden has been put upon junior guard Kaitlyn Marenyi, who currently leads the team with 12.8 points per game to go along with 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. However, Marenyi’s 3-point shooting has been fantastic this season, hitting 1.5 threes per game on 57.1 percent shooting.
While things this season might not look as positive as last season, there are reasons for the Eagles (and their fans) to be optimistic.
AU is currently on a seven-game win streak and are 7-1 in the Patriot League. Senior guard Elina Koskimies has been on a warpath this season, averaging 12.7 points per game and hitting two 3-pointers with 40.0 percent 3-point shooting. Sophomore guard Indeya Sanders is averaging an impressive 5.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
While not performing as well as they did at this point last season, the Eagles are still playing excellent basketball, and this current win streak is a positive sign for them as they continue to take on Patriot League opponents.
The Eagles will look to extend their streak against Holy Cross (11-8, 3-5 in PL) on Wednesday at home before traveling to New York to face Colgate (8-10, 4-4 in PL) on Saturday, Feb. 2.