October 28, 2012 1:15:17 AM
STARKVILLE -- One line on the final stat sheet is pleasing.
In 20 minutes for the Maroon team, Katia May went 4 of 5 from the field, grabbed five rebounds, had four assists, and made two steals. We can set aside the four turnovers, even though Vic Schaefer and the rest of the Mississippi State University women's basketball coaches likely will highlight that number.
May's other line Saturday afternoon probably will attract a little more attention. For the White team, May had seven points on 1-of-3 shooting with three assists, six turnovers, and four steals in 18 minutes.
Combined, the junior guard's performance in the Maroon team's 79-65 victory in a 40-minute scrimmage at Humphrey Coliseum was passable. But as May and teammate Jerica James have come to find out, passable -- or average -- won't be accepted this season.
"I had six turnovers, so apparently I didn't do that well," May said. "According to the stats, I need to do better."
James, a sophomore guard, had a similar line: 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting with three rebounds, five assists, and six turnovers. Both players heard a chorus of "Get up" from the coaches throughout the afternoon that encouraged them to play tighter defense on the other player. With less than a week to go before their exhibition opener against Shorter at 7 p.m. Friday at Humphrey Coliseum, May and James know they will hear even more of those comments because they will be expected to set the tone with their defense.
May said she is adjusting to that expectation.
"It is tiring, but I kind of like because you set the tone for the team," May said. "It is challenging, but it is exciting for me at the same time.
"It is going to help a lot because if they see me playing hard, they're going to want to play hard, too. I am pretty sure my teammates aren't selfish enough to see if I am playing hard they're not going to play hard."
Schaefer said the learning process will continue when he watches the film of the scrimmage. He said he is eager to point out things he and his coaches see on Monday when the players return to work.
The scrimmage featured the usual ups and downs with players not knowing the plays and getting fatigued. The highlights included senior Darriel Gaynor scoring 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting (4 of 9 from 3-point range) and freshman Jessy Ward pouring in 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting (4 of 6 from 3-point range).
"I am pleased with those kids," Schaefer said. "I thought they shot it pretty well. A kid who scores is going to make you play them. I love defense and all of that, but at the end of the day it is whoever has more points is going to win the game."
Sophomore center Martha Alwal scoring 19 points (all for the Maroon team), grabbing 11 rebounds, and blocking four shots.
But Schaefer said there are plenty of things to improve on. He said the guards need to take better care of the basketball (the Lady Bulldogs committed 40 turnovers), Alwal needs to recognize she can't play behind players on defense, and everybody needs to play together because the team is limited in numbers.
Sophomore Carnecia Williams didn't play after tweaking her left knee in the warmup prior to the scrimmage.
Sophomore Kendra Grant, one of two returning starters on the team, was 2 of 6 from the field for six points. Schaefer said she needs to be a bigger part of the offense.
"I told her going into the last quarter that you are 1-for-3 today and we have played 30 minutes," Schaefer said. "We're not going to win any games with her doing that. It is a focal point. We have to get her more involved and getting her doing things a little bit better. She was having a hard time getting open. Her touches were very limited, and that's not good. That is a kid we're going to count on, and it is hard to score when you don't have the ball."
But not having the ball is a mind-set MSU hopes to play with so opponents wonder why they didn't score. Schaefer, whose nickname is "Secretary of Defense," said the Lady Bulldogs' defense is a work in progress that needs to develop because it will be something the program prides itself on.
"We have a long way to go there," Schaefer said. "There were times when we had the ball dead and we had everybody up denying and we had Martha standing behind in the post. Finally, after about the third time that happened, she goes, 'Coach, I know. That is my fault.' That is a step. That's an encouraging point. She knows, but it is all habits. We haven't done anything for 21 days in a row yet, so it is hard to get something to be a habit. That will be the last thing we get. I don't know when we're going to get it. I hope it will be sometime during the season because that is something that is very important."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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