Today's Championship game between Northern Arizona and Montana State will be played fast. Both of the previous games were played fast and we don't think this game is going to be any different. Both teams have depth and both teams have solid point guards that will run their ball clubs. White is more widely known in the league, but Schenck is no slouch and if she wants, she can change the momentum of a game in a hurry. Both teams have streaky shooters with Rodabaugh, Radford, Orndoff, and the Moran twins for NAU and Janssen, Limardo, Beattie, and Mochi for the Cats. Will it be one person knocking down shots as the hot shooter or will it be 3 by committee for one of the teams. Bad Bear and Rasheed will be a physical post-matchup with both players having the ability to put their stamp on this game. Because both teams have the depth it could be that a reserve has a great game to put their squad into the dance. Rodabaugh for NAU could get hot and be dangerous as could Janssen for the Cats. Either way, we look for an entertaining offensive battle for the championship match.
The original matchup was supposed to be weeks ago. Now we are on! We did a preview of that canceled game and we have added those comments when we felt the same way in both 3 KEYS previews. You can find our original post 1/12/22 by scrolling up on this page.
In the first matchup between these two, the Bobcats were missing Darian White and the Bengals were missing Callie Bourne. Now it appears both teams are back to full strength unless COVID strikes again before tip-off
1. Who will win the battle from behind the 3 point line? Lately, Montana has been shooting the lights out. Huard, Morris-Nelson, and Gfeller have been consistent all seasons, but when Tsineke, Fatkin, and Stiles start to make 3’s each game that makes the Lady Griz dangerous.
Both teams pushed the pace and each tried to establish their game plans for the night early in the 1st quarter. NAU with its usual full-court pressure and a mix of zone and man defenses. MSU did a good job early of not allowing NAU to get downhill by switching a lot of actions on the defensive end. It was Emily Rodabaugh and Leia Beattie who were the hot hands for both teams early.
Sac State found the PSU zone difficult to crack in the first half. Lots of standing lots of passing, but little player movement, and for the most part their offensive design allowed PSU’s zone to stay true to its principles. Sac State also shot poorly in the first half which did not help their cause. In the first quarter, PSU’s shooting was 4-13 FG & 1-4 3FG and in the second quarter, it was not much better going 6-20 FG & 2-9 3FG. In total, the Hornets shot a combined 30% FG% and 23% 3FG. Another key stat we like to look at is how many FT’s are being shot against the zone? We say if you are shooting FT’s against the zone that is usually a good sign. In the first half, the Hornets were 2-3 67% from the FT line. This was partly due to the lack of movement in the zone and settling for too many jump shots. To attack a zone you can apply these concepts move the ball quickly (IN TRANSITION FIRST AND FOREMOST), ball reversals, cutting from behind the zone(blind spot), attack gaps off the dribble, screening, and attack the paint.
1. We have spoken recently about the combo of Daylani Ballena and Cherita Daugherty. Those two and Darian White would have put on a good show as three of the most impressive guards in the Big Sky Conference. However, we want to focus on the emergence of Lizzy Williamson and how her presence has helped lift the T-Birds play on both sides of the floor. We feel the inside presence of Lizzy Williamson would have been a key factor in today's game. Lizzy Williams is currently averaging 11.8 PPG (13th in BSC) and 1.008 PPP for half-court possessions. Other impressive numbers from Williamson are cutting 1.1 PPP, OREB 1.15 PPP, Post 1.16 PPP, Diver/POP 1.0 PPP, and in Transition she goes for 1.06 PPP. She shoots 56.5 FG% (3rd in BSC), 9.3 RPG (3rd in BSC), and 1.3 BPG (4th in BSC). Both she and Kola Bad Bear would have had a very physical matchup today.
Weber State has started the year playing competitive basketball and is off to its best start in several years under Head Coach Velaida Harris. This matchup against (7-1) Colorado State Rams team was a matchup on Wednesday we were looking forward to watching.