ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
The Tabor College women’s basketball team is in Sioux City, Iowa, for the NAIA Division II tournament, where they are competing as one of four No. 4 seeds in the 32-team field.
Tabor meets the No. 5 seed, Cardinal Stritch Wolves, today at 8:30 a.m.
The Bluejays have been doing their homework.
“(Cardinal Stritch) has been to the national tournament something like 10 times,” coach Rusty Allen said. “They’ve dominated their conference.
“(Cardinal Stritch) beat Morningside last year,” he said. “That was somewhat of an upset, maybe a huge upset.
“They lost three or four players off of that team,” he added. “So they’re a lot younger.”
Cardinal Stritch, 24-5 overall, 8-0 in conference play, was awarded an at-large berth and a No. 5 seed for this year’s tournament.
“We’re researching them,” Allen said. “They have two players who averaged double-figures in scoring. Their team strength is ball-handling; they’re very well coached and very well organized.”
As a team, Cardinal Stritch ranks among the top three NAIA Division II teams in assist-to-turnover ratio (1), 3-point field goal defense (1), scoring margin (3), turnover margin (3) and scoring defense per game (3).
Cardinal Stritch also ranked 10th in 3-pointers made per game.
Megan Shirey, a 6-feet-1 forward, led Cardinal Stritch in scoring (12.9 per game) and rebounding (6.6 per game) this season. Shirey also posted the fifth best field goal percentage in the NAIA.
The Wolves’ strongest perimeter scoring threat this season was 5-foot-9 guard Jeni Caldwell, who averaged tallied 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds.
As a team, Cardinal Stritch averaged just shy of 69 points per game, which ranked them 50th in the NAIA. Defensively, the Wolves allowed only 51 points per game.
By comparison, Tabor averaged nearly 68 points per game while holding opponents to slightly less than 59. Statistically, Tabor is No. 4 among NAIA Division II teams in field-goal percentage defense.
The Bluejays also outrebounded their opposition by 6.3 per game and finished in the top 10 nationwide in total rebound margin.
Donya Anderson averaged 7.1 defensive rebounds per game- eighth-best in the NAIA. Emily Vogts grabbed 3.5 offensive rebounds per game, which ranked her 17th.
“We may adjust (to our opponent) here or there, but we know our style of play and we’ve been sharpening our own game,” Allen said.
Preparing for the early start time has led to perhaps the biggest adjustment to Tabor has made to its practice routine.
“We’ve been getting up every day as a team and eating breakfast at 7 a.m. to get our bodies accustomed to that,” Allen said.
Should the Bluejays advance to play in the second round, the game will be played at noon Friday, March 9, against the winner of the first-round contest between undefeated and top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan and No. 8 seeded Saint Joseph (Vt.).
Listen to the Bluejays
Tabor is broadcasting the game via its Web site (www.tabor.edu) and the NAIA is making an Internet video broadcast available through its Web site (www.naia.org).