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Tech must deal with tempo, size

November 16, 2012
By Michael Bleach - DMG Sports Writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech women's basketball team's defense can be labeled as a unit in transition.

After all, there are plenty of questions still to answer in Life After Lindsey Lindstrom.

The graduated senior made game-planning for opposing offenses simple in her four years. No matter who the best player was, a long, 6-foot-2 forward or quick, three-point bomber, Lindstrom took all comers. She could guard positions one-through-five, and did so with a zeal and work ethic rarely seen on the less glamorous defensive end.

So for the 2012-13 Huskies (1-0), even basic questions, like who guards the opponent's top scorer are up in the air each week.

But after a 90-80 win over Concordia-St. Paul last Saturday - Tech only gave up 80 points twice last season - Cameron believes the team has taken a step in the right direction with a full week of practice.

"We have always had that lock-down defender," Cameron said. "And our defense is based on the team concept, but it is almost like you need five people, plus one stopper who can really shut down a top player. we were spoiled a bit last year.

"I think Jillian Ritchie has done a really, really good job taking pride in her individual defense. You have to want the person you are guarding to never score, and she was standout against Concordia. She is in a position to be that stopper for anyone in the three, four, five position. And then Sam Hoyt has the capacity to stop any of the guard positions."

Testing Ritchie and the Huskies Saturday will be a pair of post scorers at Minnesota Duluth and an extreme, up-tempo style of play - both areas Cameron cited preseason as concerns.

The Bulldogs (1-1), which Tech have not seen since a victory in the 2010-11 season, will bring two distinct challenges to the hardwood against the Huskies.

Can Tech stop the inside scoring of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Player of the Year Katrina Newman (20 points per game) and Hannah Rutten (17.5 PPG)? And can the Huskies handle the full court, constant in-your-face pressure the Bulldogs prefer on defense?

"They are going to run, they are going to be very, very physical and they are going to guard us full court," Cameron said. "They deny every pass, no matter where you are and they try to stop you from getting into your offense. They will make it very difficult to dribble down the court and if you pick up the ball you are done. And they play 11 people, so they do this all game."

The Huskies saw a similar style in the exhibition against Wisconsin-Green Bay (when Tech turned it over 31 times) and Cameron believes the experience will benefit guards Sam Hoyt and Emma Veach.

The senior Veach in particular will play an important role Saturday, as the team will often rely on her to act as a de facto point guard to allow reigning Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week Hoyt more shooting opportunities.

"Because (Veach) is so good with the basketball, we can put Sam (off-ball) and allow her more shots instead of having (Hoyt) waste so much energy on the full court pressure," Cameron said. "(Emma) allows us to set up Sam for more offensive opportunities."

If the senior guard pair can break down Duluth offensively, it will be up to forwards Ritchie, Taylor Stippel and substitutes Kylie Moxley and Dani Blake to hold Newman and the 6-foot-2 Rutten in check.

"(Newman) catches everything, lob passes from half court and she will find a way to come up with the basketball," Cameron said. "And then she finishes.

"They crash the boards so hard," Cameron added. "So rebounding is a must for us."

Houghton native and freshman Taylor Stippel should also make an appearance for Duluth, with Dillinger playing 14 minutes a game over the first two contests, averaging 4.5 points.



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