Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Depin: Takeaways from UMass’ performance against No. 5 Tennessee

Minutewomen lose by nine to Lady Vols
Chris Tucci / UMass Athletics

In what will be its toughest opponent in the regular season, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team can come away very happy with its performance.

A two possession game for the majority of the first half and a raucous comeback attempt midway through the fourth quarter showed us that the Minutewomen (1-1) belong in the national conversation of women’s hoops. No. 5 ranked Tennessee is obviously no joke, and UMass didn’t provide a punchline.

With that being said, the Lady Vols (1-1) exposed some of the flaws that exist within the Minutewomen. While there aren’t many, if those flaws are exploited, UMass has a hard time finding its way back. There’s a lot of good and some bad that can be taken away from Thursday’s contest.

Rebounding won’t be the problem that many thought it would be

One of the main things that was seen in both the exhibition game against Assumption and the season opener against Central Connecticut was the lack of rebounding that it seemed the Minutewomen had. UMass was outrebounded 40-39 and 38-32 in its first two games respectively, but it threw the past behind it against Tennessee.

The Lady Vols are one of the most physical, aggressive, and smart teams in the country. Quite simply, they know how to get rebounds in a way that other teams can only dream about. Yet the Minutewomen outrebounded Tennessee 49-45, and dominated the offensive boards, 22-11. How could there be such a turnaround between games?

UMass, knowing its opponent, played just as physically as the Lady Vols. The results were seen in the rebounding numbers, but there is a downside to this style of play. The Minutewomen had 19 fouls, which led to 23 free throws for the opposition, 17 of which were hit. Is it worth it to play this style of basketball? In my opinion yes, as it prevents easy second chance points.

Give Ber’Nyah Mayo co-ownership of the offense

Ber’Nyah Mayo is a high caliber offensive weapon. She didn’t put up flashy numbers in the season opener, but dropped 15 points and four assists on Thursday, even with the lowest usage rate of the starting five. Mayo had the highest field goal percentage on the team, and the second highest three-point percentage. After averaging just over two assists last season, Mayo has four in each of the first two games this season.

With her low usage rate, high efficiency and great assist to turnover ratio (she had no turnovers in Thursday’s contest), Mayo has earned a larger role in the offense. Four of the five members of the starting five had 15 shot attempts or more, with Mayo having 16.

UMass has a very balanced offensive attack, but Mayo should have the ball in her hands more. She can create her own shot, but she excels at creating for other people, too.

Shooting needs to improve

After shooting 2-16 (12.5 percent) from three in the season opener, the Minutewomen more than doubled their percentage, shooting 26.7 percent on Thursday. Shooting is something that comes with repetition, and repetition is something that comes with games being played. But when playing tall and paint-packing teams like Tennessee, it’s apparent that one of the only things that this team is missing is consistent shooting.

Sam Breen, after dominating the post in the season opener, didn’t find success there on Thursday. A consistent shooter would draw bodies away from the paint, but if the bodies don’t leave the paint, a wide open three is there for the taking. Even just the threat of a good shooter would give this offense much more room to breathe.

Whether its Sydney Taylor finding her rhythm again or a different shooter off the bench, perimeter scoring can only help UMass. Even with this lack of shooting, the Minutewomen showed that they can hang with any opponent put in front of them.

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jdepin101.

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