A change to the offensive theme of Seton Hall women’s basketball is imminent and the trend points to an offense focused in accumulating more assists.
Last season’s squad averaged 73.3 points per game, good enough for third in the Big East. However, the team has lost more than 55 of those points per game thanks to the departure of four starters. With so many scoring threats gone, the Pirates will have to prioritize finding the open shot.
The Hall mustered less than 12 assists per game last year, ranking eighth among Big East teams despite the its high scoring output.
The impact of this low assist average was monumental, especially in games against conference rivals.
In the team’s seven Big East losses, the Pirates failed to reach more than 11 assists in each, including failing to reach nine or more in four of those contests.
The team’s struggles with playmaking were most exposed in the semi-finals of the Big East Tournament, where the Pirates put together a measly six assists.Their opponent, Creighton, tripled that number.
No longer will the Hall be able to rely on Tabatha Richardson-Smith’s gaudy scoring numbers or the consistent three-point shooting of Aleesha Powell to push the team to victory with strong individual play.
The Pirates need a new identity as they move on from the stars of the past. Luckily, the preseason has shown signs of a Seton Hall team more keen on improved playmaking.
The first step towards a new culture may have been revealed in the naming of the team’s two captains in sophomore guards LaTecia Smith and Kaity Healy.
While Healy redshirted her freshman year, Smith found a niche in the Pirates’ crowded backcourt by racking up the fourth most assists on the team, 34, in the seventh high amount of minutes, 366.
Both guards are in line for significant minutes and will look to find their own shots, but also set up teammates for high-percentage looks.
In the Pirates’ first exhibition game against Philadelphia University on Saturday, Nov. 5, Healy and Smith both played more than 20 minutes and combined for 10 assists.
The team as a whole racked up 15 assists, three more than last season’s average, on the way to a convincing 26-point victory.
Digging further back to the team’s trip to Canada in August, the new focus on passing and playmaking flourished.
In the Hall’s final two wins of their Canadian tour, the team racked up 19 assists against the University of Ottawa and put up 17 assists versus Carleton University.
Both were Seton Hall victories where the team found assists totals of at least five more than the average of last season.
Last year’s scoring average will be hard to maintain, but with a more efficient, pass-focused offense, the team has the mentality for a deeper March Madness run.
Kyle Kasharian is a business major from Green, N.J. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.