The Katy Meyer Effect
With 14 of 17 players returning from last season’s SLIAC championship team, the 2011-2012 version of the Webster University women’s basketball team appeared poised to challenge for another SLIAC title and maybe even make some noise in the NCAA tournament.
That sentiment is growing more unlikely with each passing game. With only four regular-season contests remaining, Webster is 9-12 overall and 7-5 in SLIAC play. The Gorloks are a very average team in a very below-average conference.
There are several reasons why Webster is having a down season. The biggest one was obvious from the get-go. The Gorloks desperately miss their do-it-all leader, their go-to player, their light-out-shooting future Webster Athletics Hall of Famer — Katy Meyer.
Meyer, a four-year varsity starter at Webster, played her fourth and final season of collegiate basketball last year. She averaged team-highs of 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds a year ago, and she led the Gorloks (17-11, 10-6) to a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Meyer was the type of player that coach Jordan Olufson could rely upon for consistent production. And, in several games, she would carry Webster on her back by pouring in 20-plus points. She shot extremely well from beyond the 3-point arc, giving the Gorloks a deep threat they’re sorely lacking now.
But Meyer was more than a stat-stuffing All-Conference guard/forward. She had the leadership ability to will Webster to victory by demanding more out of her teammates and herself. She was the savvy veteran who had seen it all and could navigate the underclassmen-laden team through times of turmoil. She possessed intangibles the Gorloks could surely use now.
Meyer was also the Gorlok with a target on her back. Opposing coaches knew that the key to beating Webster was to limit Meyer’s catch-and-shoot opportunities. But even when Meyer did have an off game scoring, the players around her oftentimes picked up the slack. That hasn’t happened this year.
Simply put, Webster is lacking a Katy Meyer this season. Players like junior guards Maggie Zehner and Gwen Williams and freshman forward Cassie Endicott have had their moments, but the Gorloks’ balanced scoring attack lacks a top-notch threat like Meyer.
Many of the teams Webster has faced this season have a star player or two, and those teams have exposed the Gorloks’ biggest weakness — Webster can’t stop the big guns from having their way. Check out these games for examples.
• Marian University leading scorer Alexis Becker (15.3 points per game) torched Webster for 23 points in a 71-64 Marian win on Nov. 19.
• Elmhurst College leading scorer Meghan Merklein (17.2 ppg) went for 27 points in a 64-58 Elmhurst win on Dec. 3.
• Eureka College leading scorer Caty Eeten (24.1 ppg) recorded 28 points in an 81-62 Eureka win on Jan. 10.
• Eureka’s top two scorers, Eeten and Khassandrae Brown (17.8 ppg), lit up the Gorloks with 29 and 24 points, respectively, in Eureka’s 81-65 win on Feb. 4.
For the Gorloks to have a legitimate chance of beating Westminster College, Eureka or Fontbonne University in the SLIAC tournament, they’re going to have to do what opponents did to them last season — slow down the best player on the court.
I know that’s easier said than done. But if those 14 returnees from last season’s SLIAC championship squad want to go back-to-back, now would be the time to start the doing.
And the winning.