Inconsistent offense leads Lady Eagles to early season slide
Just one season ago, offensive records at USU Eastern were being shattered on what seemed like a weekly basis by former USU Eastern player Priscila Santos.
But now with a sputtering offense averaging 48 points per game, the Lady Eagles are looking to make some changes with just a few weeks before Scenic West Athletic Conference play starts.
Without a go-to scorer like Santos on the team, USU Eastern women's head coach Dave Paur is looking for players to step up and fill the void on offense for the Lady Eagles.
In a display that has been all too common for the Lady Eagles early in the season, the offense was never able to play on a consistent basis during a three-game trip to a tournament held in Casper, Wyo., over the weekend.
The Lady Eagles dropped all three games they played which included Northeastern Junior College (59-53), Casper (53-42) and Wyoming All-Stars (80-57).
Over the three games played in Casper, the Lady Eagles shot just 30 percent from the field, including 21 percent from the perimeter.
Paur said the current play on offense is holding the team back from being able to walk away from games with wins early in the season.
"We're not playing any easy teams right now, but we're only averaging 48 points per game," said Paur. "That needs to change and get better quickly."
It's not easy to transition from a team led by a scoring machine like Santos. The Lady Eagles benefited on offense last season when teams would double and triple team Santos on defense leading to multiple scoring opportunities for other players. When not shooting the ball, Santos would often drive to the basket and if she wasn't fouled she would kick the ball out to an open shooter.
Paur said he has tried a number of different styles on offense including slowing down the games but noted that the team doesn't have one or two go-to scorers on the team that would help the team benefit from utilizing that kind of style on offense.
"What we're doing right now just isn't working," he said. "I have no choice now. We have to make some changes on offense."
Now, he is looking to use one of his team's strong points to their advantage with the hope of creating more opportunities on offense. Paur is looking for the Lady Eagles to continue playing tough defense with a full court press and pressure being utilized to create turnovers. The hope is that playing good defense will lead to more opportunities to score on offense, Paur explained.
"This is one of the better defensive teams I've coached in a long time," he said. "We need to guard the perimeter and use our full court press to get more turnovers."
Paur said the schedule has not helped the Lady Eagles noting the many games played against All-Stars teams from Idaho and Wyoming. Many of the players on both teams previously played Division I basketball. Despite playing against tough competition, Paur said the defense is still holding up which is keeping the Lady Eagles in most games.
"We're holding teams in the 50s with our defense, but we're still losing," he said.
Currently the Lady Eagles are in the midst of a month-long road trip which has taken them to places including Salt Lake City and Casper, Wyo. While playing on the road has been difficult, Paur said the team knew what was ahead of them on the schedule going into the season.
"Playing on the road is just the way things go now," he said noting that many teams won't consider coming to Price during the non-conference schedule due to the lack of money they would receive for lodging, meals and other transportation costs.
Paur and the Lady Eagles (1-7) will look to turn their season around as they travel to Salt Lake City for another tournament this weekend. The Lady Eagles will play against Northwest College (Wyo.) and Lamar Community College (Colo.).