The Webster University women’s basketball team starts the season “better than last year,” coach Jordan Olufson said.
The Gorloks begin the 2012-2013 campaign with a 1-2 record after going 1-1 in the Cavallo Classic. But then Webster lost to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Ind.) 58-51 on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Grant Gymnasium.
Last year, Webster started the season with six straight loses, which is why Olufson is satisfied with the women’s team’s start thus far.
“It’s not like it’s unfixable or effort or anything like that,” Olufson said. “We had high effort high energy, we just couldn’t score.”
In the first three games, Webster is shooting 33.3 percent and opponents have shot 41.5 percent against them.
After the loss to Rose-Hulman in which Webster shot 34.5 percent, senior guard Maggie Zehner said she agrees with Olufson’s thoughts.
“It’s nothing that they did, (but) we just got to finish our shots,” Zehner said. “We just got to get into the gym and get more shots in.”
Webster didn’t have steady hands while shooting, but the Gorloks brought active hands on defense. In the first three games, the Gorloks had 38 steals and 17 blocks. In the first half against Rose-Hulman Webster racked up 13 steals.
“We feed off that. Defense wins games and offense is just by how much,” Zehner said. “We have more fun when we can get that high pressure and get the other team down so we can thrive off of that.”
Webster has only trailed once heading into halftime this season, and it was only by one point. The Gorloks’ struggles have come from closing out games.
Webster lost to Rust College (Miss.) 55-48 on Saturday, Nov. 17 with a six-point lead in the second half. Also, Webster allowed a 13-point lead halfway through the second half against Earlham College (Ind.) on Friday, Nov. 16 to slip. However, the Gorloks were able to hold on with a 58-50 win.
“It’s very hard to put a team away in college,” Olufson said. “Everybody is good, and you have to be able to match runs.”
Olufson does believe his team possesses three aspects every successful team can’t do without: energy, defense and effort.
When a team’s scoring has yet to click, these are the aspects that can save a game or a season, Olufson said.
“The girls would say it’s something I’ve been harping on, but those are three things you can always have,” Olufson said. “You can’t always have scoring, but you can always have those three things and I think we do.”
Much of that defense has come from the height and youth at the center position. Sophomores Cassie Endicott and Jamie Buehrig accounted for all but one of the team’s 17 blocks this year. Endicott — who is second in scoring and lead the team in blocks and rebounds last year — plans to average a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.
“I feel a little bit (of pressure) from the success last year,” Endicott said. “I just want to improve on that and not take a fall backwards.”
Buehrig said the Gorloks haven’t quite learned how to play together yet, but when they do they will be “unstoppable.”
“We’re not playing our best basketball right now, which isn’t always a bad thing,” Olufson said. “If we’re playing our best in two or three months, then I’m going to be happy.”