BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Leading into tomorrow’s game, the Lady Topper basketball team has been tearing through Conference USA. They cruised through their first 5 conference games by playing some beautiful basketball that saw them go undefeated during this run. After an unfortunate shooting night against (11-10) Southern Miss that led to their first loss in conference, they came back swinging in a 5-point victory of (11-10) La Tech. WKU, which currently sits in third place in conference, have gotten to this point by playing an exhilarating, up-tempo, style of basketball that puts them on the front foot against most of Conference USA
Before this season, there were a number of Lady Topper fans left uncertain of first-year Head Coach Greg Collins. Collins, who was an assistant under Michelle Clark-Heard for 6 years, assured the fans by saying the only change would be on the offensive end. Under Collins, WKU’s revamped, fast-paced, attack has averaged over 78 points during conference play, which is better than any other team in Conference USA. The only team to come remotely close is Old Dominion, who average 8 points less against C-USA opponents.
Coach Collins talked about his intent to tweak one thing from last season in his first press conference as Head Coach, He said, “Our goal is to pick this pace up again and get back to playing fast again.”
Coach Collins hoped to push the ball in a higher-tempo offense and his players delivered. The Lady Tops have blown past most C-USA opponents with performances that look closer to a 4x100 relay race than a basketball game. They’ve averaged a 14-point win margin while posting at least 80 points in 4 of their 7 conference games.
It’s pretty clear on paper that Collins’ tweak has led to a high-octane brand of basketball that has opened things up for the Lady Tops on offense. When WKU launches into a fast break, they glide across the court and pull the defense to the corners which leaves the interior wide open for easy layups.
WKU will have another chance to display their offensive barrage tomorrow against the UTSA. The Roadrunners have struggled to stop teams in C-USA allowing of 68 points per game, and they also get outrebounded by eight boards on average. If WKU can consistently control the boards on defense, then they’ll be able to push the ball on the offense in their style of play.
During conference play, The Lady Topper offense has been flowing like the Mississippi River on a rainy day, but the tweak in strategy from last year has led to more than just a few extra points tacked onto the scoreboard. The Lady Tops are shooting much smarter as well.
This year, they have improved their three-point shooting by 10%, and their overall shooting from the field has improved by 7%. They’re also averaging 3 more points per game against conference opponents than last year. Although, that last stat doesn’t sound like a big difference. You can’t forget that last year’s team featured some players who have been cemented in the Lady Topper history books. Tasia Brown finished last season as the school’s 3rd best scorer, and Ivy Brown secured the 7th most rebounds in school history.
Coach Collins said that the team took a step back after a rough shooting night in their lone C-USA loss against Southern Miss. But when asked how far his team has come since the beginning of the season, a glow emerged on his face as he proudly talked about the Lady Toppers progress.
The former New York Liberty scout said, “I remind the players sometimes. ‘think of who you are now, and think of who you were in August,’ and they’ll smile because they realize how much improvement they’ve made and the team’s made… I don’t feel like we’ve taken a step back as a team, but we just took a step back in terms of performance… It doesn’t really reflect or determine who this team is and who these players are.”
(Nathan Yazdani contributed to this story)