Young team wins big, will improve

Sameer Bhuchar

A very simple examination of the score line would make fans assume that the Texas women’s basketball team handily defeated the Mississippi Valley State University Devillettes on Friday. Upon further examination, though, there are signs that suggest head coach Gail Goestenkors and her staff have a lot of work to do in preparation for their next game.

The Longhorns’ starters played extremely well, posting a combined 78 points out of the team’s 92. Yvonne Anderson notched a career-high 18 points while seeing action in a career-high 26 minutes. Ashleigh Fontenette led Texas in scoring with 20 points. Ashley Gayle snagged a game-high 11 rebounds and Kathleen Nash added 19 points to the mix. Even freshman Chassidy Fussell posted 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists in her Texas debut.

When five players play as well as that, there should little question as to the future prospects of the team. But the stats read both ways in this MVSU game — and the other side of the numbers read poorly for the bench.
Texas had 24 turnovers that happened mostly when a chunk of the starting rotation was on the bench. When the young reserve players came into the game, the Devillettes took advantage of their inexperience and cut into the lead.

Goestenkors said coaching the mental aspects of the game to the bench will be her focus in upcoming practices.

“One, I think the bench has to feel like they are starting,” she said. “We have to have our bench play well, so whoever is in the game has to play with the same focus and same intensity as our starters. I think the other thing that happened, though, was that we had such a big lead when they did go in that I think they were not as focused as they need to be. I think there is a little letdown when you have a big lead, so I think it was a bad combination.”

Anderson said that with the young bench still learning the feel of game time, it is up to her and the rest of the returners to take an expanded leadership role.

“This year, I definitely had to take a larger leadership role,” Anderson said. “I’m one of the returners, I’m one of the upperclassmen, so that’s kind of my role to come in there and calm everything down and get everyone back on the page they are supposed to be.”

The Longhorns will take on Northwestern State on Tuesday night. Texas will likely use that game to continue tuning up the play of their bench before getting into the meat of their schedule.