Minutewomen keep turning it over

By Michael Wood

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In order to score, you need to have possession of the ball. In order to keep possession of the ball, you can’t turn it over.

Just like football, hockey or soccer, one of the most important statistics in a basketball game is turnovers, and the Massachusetts women’s basketball team is not faring well in that category.

When an offensive play breaks down and the squad can’t record a basket, it gives the opponent possession of the ball and can cause the Minutewomen to be out-of-place on defense at the opposite end of the court. Yet, if the team hustles back, it’s not impossible to prevent the opponent from scoring.

However, if the team turns the ball over, via an ill-advised pass or steal, not only does the opponent get possession back, but it will almost certainly turn into a fast break opportunity and a high-percentage shot for the opposing team.

The Maroon and White turn the ball over an average of 19.7 times per game. That mark is second to last in the Atlantic 10, only to Charlotte, who averages 20.7. Even worse, they are second-to-last in total turnovers this season, recording 434 over a 22-game span. Only Charlotte has more turnovers than the Minutewomen, with 455.

To put this number in perspective, A-10 leaders, Xavier and Temple, turn the ball over 15.5 and 14 times per game, respectively. While that is only four or five fewer times than UMass, the difference is noticeable.

Xavier and Temple each defeat their opponents by more than 13 points, and average over 67 points-per-game. Those numbers are higher than everybody else in the A-10 because they capitalize on more opportunities. With four or five more chances to score down the floor, they can net as many as 20 extra points that other teams aren’t getting.

Point guards typically lead a team in turnovers because they have the ball so much, and thus, have more chances to do so. This is not the case with the Minutewomen. UMass is led in turnovers by sophomore Shakia Robinson. Despite being one of the most consistent point-scorers and the best post presence on the team, she has also been an Achilles Heel of the squad in terms of hanging on to the ball. She has turned the ball over 81 times in 22 games.

To make matters worse, 10 of the 12 players who have seen minutes this season have at least 20 turnovers. Of those 10, six have more than 35, four have over 50 and two have over 65. Megan Zullo, UMass’s best ball-handler, is second with 68.

The Minutewomen face Duquesne and Charlotte this week, pending favorable weather conditions. If they expect to get past either of them, it’s safe to say that turnovers are one of their biggest focal points. Head coach Sharon Dawley will likely be trying to have her team hold onto the ball and make smarter passes in hopes of avoiding two more losses at home.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]