The season began just as head coach Michael Brooks wanted it to. The Bradley women’s basketball team opened the new campaign with two games on the road, and the women came out with a win and a loss.
“Any time you go on the road, you want to get a split,” Brooks said. “That’s the whole mindset. You want to win at home and split on the road when you have two games with a one-day prep.”
Bradley opened up the season against the University of Detroit last Friday night, and it started in an odd fashion. They weren’t able to prepare because Detroit had a completely new system under a new head coach, so there was no film or materials the Braves could use to watch the Titans style.
However, once the Braves got to the first media timeout, the women finally had a grasp on what they had to do to eventually earn the 75-67 win.
“It took us until the first media [timeout] to understand what they would be seeing, where things would be coming from, what screens they thought would be showing now,” Brooks said. “Once we were able to have a better understanding, we were able to lock down and were able to have some great things happen for us.”
One of Brooks’ “great things” was the performance of junior Whitney Tinjum, who led the way with 21 points and 10 boards.
“We were working really well together as a team,” Tinjum said. “If you’re shooting on, you’re solid. We were driving and attacking really well, and when they went into zone, they couldn’t stay in it because we started hitting shots.”
The Braves were able to clinch the win by effectively closing out the game, which is something Brooks has been stressing in practice.
“We’ve been challenging them in practice through situational scrimmages on how to finish games, how to have a lead being up by two and extending it to 10, or extending it to eight, and we were able to do that in that game,” Brooks said.
Unfortunately, Bradley wasn’t able to continue that in the next game against Bowling Green University.
The Braves had a three point lead in the last quarter but weren’t able to hold on, as Bowling Green closed the game with a 66-53 win.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well, but we were really aggressive on defense and did a great job guarding them,” Brooks said. “We did a really good job limiting them offensively. They were just able to extend the lead in the fourth when they put a run together.”
Brooks said there are two sides to the team right now: one that understands how to close games and one that doesn’t. He said the women need to take the next step and become consistent at the end of games.
“We should have had that one,” Brooks said. “Being up in the fourth quarter… we just had a couple things slip away from us that allowed them to extend. We had our opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize on them.”
To improve late game situations, Brooks will continue to run his team through simulations in practices and will emphasize exectuting plays and staying disciplined.
“It’s the very simple things that get you the lead,” Brooks said. “You have to be able to stay in attack mode at the right times, though.”
If the Braves are faced with a situation where they have to close out a game next Sunday, it’ll be a much more difficult task to complete than what they’ve seen thus far. The women host No. 17 Oklahoma Sunday, and the Braves have had all week to prepare.
Brooks listed a litany of items the Braves must do to prepare, like keeping the ball out of the post and “knowing their personnel to a ‘T.’”
Tinjum said she recognizes the challenge facing the team, but she has a much simpler outlook on the upcoming task.
“They’re a tough team,” Tinjum said. “We obviously have nothing to lose. We’re going to go out there, give it our best shot. There are some big girls, so they’ll be tough, but it’ll be a good way to measure up against national talent.”