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Seattle University Five Game Progress Report: Statistical "Growing Pains"

After losing to three teams that received votes in the national polls in last weekend’s Basketball Travelers Invitational tournament and dropping to 0-5, it has to be a bit of a relief to return home to play a team ranked near the bottom in RPI standings.

Seattle University will face an 0-3 Sacramento State team tonight at 6pm in the Connelly Center. As a person familiar with Sacramento State told me recently, it will most likely be the first win for Joan Bonvicini at Seattle University.

While five games of statistics cannot tell us that much, they do hold some insight about general trends that are helpful to explain why Seattle U is struggling out of the gate. Two things stand out when looking at those stats: offensive rebounding and shooting percentage.

Offensive Rebounding
At the beginning of the season, Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans said that one of the five keys to the season for Seattle U was to rebound, despite being an undersized team.

College Sports | Seattle U. Women's Hoops | 5 keys to the season | Seattle Times Newspaper
True, SU is undersized inside, but that shouldn't stop them from grabbing rebounds. Everyone should be active to help the Redhawks play an up-tempo game.

Unfortunately, that’s been easier for Evans to say than for Seattle U to get done. And it’s been one of the biggest problems for Seattle U thus far this season.

While Seattle U is grabbing 25% of the available offensive rebounds this season, their opponents are getting nearly 40% of the available offensive boards. It not only means easy second chance point opportunities for their opponents, but also extended possessions to defend.

Shooting and defending opponents shooting

However, one of the biggest struggles for the Redhawks has been their shooting. They are shooting 32% from the field through five games while allowing their opponents to shoot 44%, not to mention allowing opponents to shoot 44% from the three point line.

After their loss to Concordia, coach Bonvicini said, "We’re forcing a lot of action. We need to get our field goal percentage up a lot."

Certainly increasing their own effort on defense would help to close the gap between their shooting and that of their opponents, but as an undersized team, they’ll also need more production from their perimeter players.

Thus far in the season, the Redhawks starting backcourt of Cassidy Murillo and Kourtney Parks are shooting a combined 13-54 (24%) from the field and 4 for 32 (12%) from the three point line. Certainly the burden of the team’s success does not fall entirely on the guards, but for a team whose strength is their perimeter game, scoring production from the backcourt is certainly important.

Cassidy Murillo influencing game despite shooting woes

Yet despite poor shooting from the field, Murillo is arguably the team’s MVP thus far this season. While forward Ashley Brown has put up better numbers overall, one of her best games came in a 21 point loss after missing a game and coming off the bench due to illness. Murillo’s greatest contributions are those that don’t show up in the stat sheets – setting up players for open shots and controlling the tempo of the game. Defensively, she gets her share of steals and is a moderate rebounder for her size. However, as a distributor who has struggled with her own scoring thus far this season, she needs people around her to take advantage of her passing and knock down shots.

Hopefully they can find ways to create high percentage scoring opportunities moving forward in their schedule.

Transition Points:

  • Sacramento State entered the season with coach Jamie Craighead trying to play a version of "Paul Ball"

    Coach stresses speed, scoring -  Sacramento Bee
    "I want to score more points than our opponent. I didn't say stop our opponent. I said score more points." Craighead's plans include full-court pressure and half-court traps to disrupt opponent's offenses. "Our goal is to take the other opponent out of what they want to do," she said.

    Will be interesting to see how they execute that type of offense.