Before a new season begins on the court, basketball coaches across the nation must be familiar with rule changes approved in the off-season.
This year, new guidelines have already affected change in the game of women’s basketball, and according to Randolph-Macon head coach Carroll LaHaye, they are for the better.
“Quite frankly, I like it because of the type of players I have, with the freedom of movement,” LaHaye said after Randolph-Macon defeated Roanoke Saturday in their ODAC opener 105-81, to improve to 5-0 overall. “We want to be able to move and there are times I feel they don’t let us.”
The changes, in areas from closely guarding an opponent, play in the lower defensive box, and matching the men’s game in making the offensive team bring the ball past mid-court within 10 seconds, have also meant more activity from the whistle of officials. For example, there were 62 fouls called in Saturday’s game, which brings further responsibility to the coaching staff.
“It’s much more management for me having players sitting on the bench, but thank goodness we have a deep bench this year,” LaHaye said.
Twelve Yellow Jackets saw playing time in the win, with five scoring in double figures, led by team-leading scorer Taylor Huber with 30, even though she was saddled on the bench with two fouls for most of the first half. All the while, Huber was confident her teammates would take care of business.
“We work so well together,” Huber said. “We had 23 assists tonight. As a team, we all get along and if somebody’s down, we all pick each other up. I see our performance continuing to get better.”
Sarah Parsons had 20 points for Randolph-Macon, while Katie Anderson scored 19 and Khajae Hester and Hannah Livermon had 11 each.
The Jackets shot 51 percent from the field, and taking advantage of all the trips to the charity stripe, hit 28 of 33 free throws. Defensive pressure by the Jackets, coupled with cold shooting from the Maroons in the first half (less than 29 percent from the floor) helped Randolph-Macon outscore Roanoke 30-17 in the final 12:30 of the first half en route to a 48-34 halftime lead.
The Maroons were never able to cut that halftime margin, the Jackets holding them past double digits the rest of the way. But one source of contention for LaHaye was looking at how her team could cut down the amount of times the opponent went to the free throw line.
“I don’t like to accept in victory what I don’t accept in defeat. We sent Roanoke to the line 48 times. They scored 33 points. That’s 33 free points,” LaHaye explained. “I was a little disturbed about that.”
Thus, Randolph-Macon will continue to search for the happy medium where the officiating landscape of 2013-14 will be more conducive to their style of play, while, at the same time, their defense will tighten and make more stops and commit less fouls.
Plus, with the ability to go up to go 12-deep on the roster, with freshman Taylor Intermill almost ready to make her Jackets debut after an injury making it 13-deep, the team’s experience grows, and ability to play whatever tempo they desire becomes greater as well.
All of these are excellent omens for a team one win away from matching last year’s win total…before Thanksgiving.
“We have so many different dynamics to this team,” Huber said. “I played against some of these girls in high school, so being against them, I was excited to know that we’d all be on the same team.”
Future Yellow Jacket opponents may not share that sentiment.