By: Andrew Mason
With the Terriers’ 66-61 loss to Lafayette in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament last Saturday, the 2017-18 season has officially wrapped up. WTBU’s Andrew Mason takes you through the key takeaways heading into the offseason.
Even those closest to the team were surprised by the immediate impact of freshmen Katie Nelson and Tenisha Pressley.
Nelson (9.4 points, 4.7 assists, 1.3 steals) led the Terriers in scoring for the first half of the year, and recorded the team’s season-high 25 points in an overtime win at Delaware in November. In addition to leading the entire conference with 34.8 minutes per contest, Nelson was selected for the Patriot League’s All-Rookie team.
But the point guard did turn the ball over a team-worst four times each game. Protecting the ball, and becoming a more vocal leader out on the floor are crucial for Nelson to work on as she gets older.
Pressley saw a solid amount of minutes in her first year, often being Head Coach Katy Steding’s go-to choice for a defensive stopper in crunch time. The guard has a good jump shot that she will be able to show off as her role in the offense increases.
Mix Nelson and Pressley with the likes of sophomore Nia Irving – BU’s top scorer and rebounder at 13.6 points and 6.8 boards per matchup – and you’re looking at a young core that can lead this squad in the future.
Finding a Closer:
BU struggled to win close games all year. Nine of the overall 19 losses came within single digits, while three of the last four losses occurred after the Terriers failed to convert on a game-winning or tying basket.
Steding often went to sophomore Vanessa Edgehill (3.6 points, 2.1 rebounds) in these moments, whose game-winning shot attempts just missed on multiple occasions.
Junior Naiyah Thompson (5.2 points, 3.2 rebounds) said it was not necessarily missing shots in a game’s final moments that damaged the team’s chances at winning this season.
“Our tight games aren’t lost in the last five minutes,” Thompson said. “They’re lost in the third quarter when we give up back-to-back-to-back open threes, or when we commit 14 turnovers in the first half. That’s our Achilles’ Heel. We don’t have that killer instinct through the whole game.”
Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt the Terriers to develop a clutch shooter – somebody who can put the ball in the basket when it counts. In terms of returners, the most viable candidates are Edgehill and Nelson, although junior Lauren Spearman wouldn’t be a bad bet either.
For the second year in a row, the Terriers played great for half of a season, while stringing together disappointing performances throughout the other half.
In 2016-17, BU got out to a rough 1-9 start, but finished conference play at 11-7 – still the best league record under Steding. The opposite occurred in 2017-18, after a promising 5-2 start turned sour as BU finished just 10-19 overall and 5-14 in conference action.
Easier said than done, but it’s crucial for this team to put together solid win streaks in both non-conference and league play next season in order to make a run at winning its first PL title.
Spread the Love:
With a very talented roster, playing time needs to be distributed to a greater extent next season. Perhaps one reason why this team had trouble coming through in the final moments of games was due to fatigue caused by the intense amount of minutes that some players saw.
Nelson (34.8 minutes per game) could see a few more rests on the bench if Spearman was able to take over as the floor general for a few possessions on a regular basis.
With two dominant posts in Corrine Williams (8.3 points, 30.2 minutes) and Sophie Beaudry (6.5 points, 24.8 minutes) set for graduation, huge roles down low need to be filled. Irving can’t do it all alone, so Steding will need to rely more on freshman forward Mackenzie Miers and the incoming freshmen bigs next season.