Assistant Sports Editor
When you watch a McMaster Marauders women’s basketball game, you do not see just two teams. You’ll sometimes see three or four teams through the course of the game as the Maroon and Grey transform from quarter to quarter. At times, McMaster looks like a defensive masterpiece, with crisp rotations and solid rebounding. But as soon as the next play, Mac misses a rotation or gives up two offensive rebounds on the same possession. The team goes from looking like a national competitor to a pick-up squad.
“We’re capable of playing with anyone in the country. We haven’t proven yet that we’re capable of beating these teams,” says McMaster head coach Theresa Burns. “We haven’t put 40 minutes of game together yet. That’s our challenge.”
In the Jan. 3 match against the Brock Badgers, McMaster held a double-digit lead at half. Their lead would be cut to one going into the fourth quarter and the Badgers would maintain their undefeated record by staging a dominant fourth quarter over the Marauders.
Mac had countless opportunities to put themselves ahead, squandering put-back lay-ups for easy points.
Against Laurier, the Marauders held a seven-point lead with less than five minutes left and the team’s confidence was brimming. The game looked like a wrap; McMaster would win their first home game of 2013.
But then, the defense evaporated. It was a Jekyll and Hyde routine of unbelievable proportions. McMaster dropped the game 76-72.
Burns offered an explanation for the down-the-stretch struggles: “We’re making mental mistakes at crucial parts of the game.”
These slip-ups are part of a young team getting their feet wet and learning the ups and downs of inter-university sport. However, there are positives at the half-way mark of the 2012-2013 campaign.
McMaster has found the way they can be successful on both ends of the court. They control the pace of games, forcing opponents to take part in a track meet on the hardwood.
“I think we played the tempo we wanted to play and we talk about that a lot,” explained Burns. “Defensively, we put the pressure, full-court, that we feel like we can do and need to do to be successful.”
While the Marauders sit with a mediocre 5-6 record, good for fourth in the OUA West, the problems for the squad have been the ones expected by the coaching staff. As the second half ramps up, McMaster has the opportunity to build off of the strong – although inconsistent – play the team saw through 12 games.
McMaster has the opportunity to validate Burns’ bold statement that McMaster can play with anyone in the country, with two more matches remaining against top-ten CIS teams. Wins against either Brock or Windsor would be colossal in building confidence for the young team and possibly give them the ability to string together four quarters of Marauder team basketball