Defensive intensity key for women’s basketball

After winning three of its last four games, the Seton Hall women’s basketball team has found itself in the middle of the Big East standings. However, there is more work to do for the Pirates to find themselves in the top half when the dust settles.

The pride of coach Tony Bozzella’s system is the intensity his team brings to the game. From the players on the floor to those on the bench, Seton Hall has utilized a full-team effort to be successful. Nowhere has this intensity paid off more than on the defensive end.

Photo via Greg Medina

Bozzella stated early in the season that steals would be key in Seton Hall’s victories. In the team’s last four games – the most recent being an overtime loss – Seton Hall has either beaten or tied its opponents in steals. In some cases, this has been the difference in winning and losing.

In the Pirates’ game against St. John’s on Jan. 21, they won the steal battle 12-7. That margin of five was reflected in the points off turnovers statistic where Seton Hall held a 17-12 edge, in addition to the overall final score, where the Pirates pulled off the 62-57 upset victory.

The trend does not stop there, as the Pirates’ 15 steals helped put them in the win column against Providence on Jan. 26. Following that, the Pirates had a 20-point first-half comeback against Creighton on Jan. 28. While the Pirates could not complete the comeback and eventually lost in overtime, Seton Hall came up with nine steals that helped get them back in the game.

Meanwhile, in the team’s loss to Villanova before their recent win streak on Jan. 12, Seton Hall had just three steals and struggled as a result in the 67-59 defeat.

Surprisingly, despite snatching more steals, Seton Hall has rarely found itself on the right end of the turnover battle. Only against Providence and Creighton did the team have fewer turnovers than its opponent, with the Pirates splitting those two games. By limiting those errors that led to turnovers and keeping up the defensive intensity, Seton Hall will put itself in the position to win any given game.

With the loss of leading scorer Donnaizha Fountain, the offense is back under the control of a combination of veterans and young players who are still finding their way in the competitive Big East. Defensively is where Seton Hall will need to keep its edge from here on out while improving on the offensive end as the year progresses.

Another factor for success the Pirates on the defensive end is their rebounding. Seton Hall beat both Georgetown and St. John’s in this area while being edged out by one in their win against Providence. Against Creighton, Seton Hall came up with eight fewer in this category, while Creighton also came up with 14 offensive rebounds.

Limiting opponents to one shot attempt per possession by dominating the boards, or not allowing a shot by coming up with a steal, has been the best way for the Pirates to control the flow of the game while they work to improve offensively.

While Seton Hall has managed to put itself in a good position over the past couple of weeks, now comes a defining part of the season where fans will see where the team stands heading into the Big East Tournament. In order to have the results that Bozzella and his squad are hoping for, the Pirates will have to start digging in on the defensive end.

Keith Egan can be reached at keith.egan@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @Keith_Egan10.