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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Steve'S COLUMNS

PURDUE WOMENS BASKETBALL:
Women's Opponents' Profile #10: Western Michigan Broncos, 12/30/03


Coach Ron Stewart's squad averages 116.5 points per game at home.


Date: 12/28/2003
Author: Steve
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists

    Welcome to the tenth opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponentís womenís basketball team and a player or coach on the team. Links to web pages will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.

    The Team

    Western Michigan enters the game with a 5-4 record, winning its most recent game against Detroit Mercy, 65-62. The Broncos have played a very tough schedule this year, already playing ranked Connecticut and North Carolina, losing to both teams. In addition, the squad has lost to Michigan and Arizona State, while defeating UMKC, Illinois State, Montana State, and Utah State. Additionally, Western Michigan has played only two home games this year.

    While the Broncos are a squad that can score in bunches (117 points against UMKC and 116 against Utah State), they struggle against better teams. They barely scraped past 50 points against Michigan and UNC, while Connecticut held them to 46 points. Still, a team that has been chosen to win the MACís West Division and the conferenceís post-season tournament canít be overlooked by Purdue.

    Western Michigan is a team much like Purdue in that size and bulk arenít strengths. There are only two players taller than 6í2Ē, Kelly Koerber and Lori Crisman, but both start for Coach Ron Stewartís squad. The other three starters, Casey Rost, Maria Jilian, and Carrie Moore, are all 5í9Ē guards. Perhaps one result of the lack of size is that the Broncos are being out-rebounded to date at a 42.6-37.9 per game clip.

    The Broncos, however, are a dangerous squad in many others areas. They have forced opponents into almost 22 turnovers per game, average almost 12 steals per game, shoot 42.5% from the field, 36.1% from 3-point range, and just over 70% from the free throw line. Western Michigan also has had success in getting to the free throw line, attempting 239 free throws this year to their opponentsí 146.

    Defensively, Western Michigan is a Jekyll-and-Hyde squad. While the Broncos have limited their opponents to shooting 41.1% from the field and 30.6% from 3-point range over the entire season, Connecticut (63.5%) and North Carolina (47.2%) torched them. In the post, Michiganís Jennifer Smith (32 points, 13 rebounds), Connecticutís Jessica Moore (18 points in 24 minutes), and North Carolinaís Candace Sutton (5-5 from the field), took advantage of the shorter WMU players.

    Western Michigan also has trouble controlling the ball, averaging almost twenty turnovers per game. This, along with giving up 18 offensive rebounds per game and going to the free throw line so frequently, is probably the reason the Broncos attempt 7 fewer field goals per game than opponents.

    With all the statistical woes facing the Broncos against larger teams, realize that the squad has quality depth (the starters havenít missed any games due to injury and all average at least 8 points per game), experience (Rost, last seasonís MAC tournament MVP, Jilian, and Crisman started in last yearís game against Purdue), and the beginning of a tradition of excellence (Crisman is the only senior starter and the squad represented the MAC in the NCAAs last year).

    The teamís official webpage is at http://www.wmubroncos.com/sports/basketball/women/

    The Player

    Junior Casey Rost does so much for the Broncos that she may be Western Michiganís version of Katie Douglas, except that she packages all that skill into a 5í9Ē frame. The St. Johns, Michigan, native leads the Broncos in points per game (16.8), is second in minutes per game (33.7), field goal percentage (44.7%), 3-point percentage (38.9%), free throw percentage (84.1%), assists (22), and steals (24), and ranks third on the squad in rebounds per game (3.6), and blocks.

    Rost is a member of the preseason all-MAC first team, was the MACís freshman of the year two seasons ago, and was named MVP of last yearís MAC tournament. She set the WMU single-game scoring record by pouring in 40 points against UMKC, and has scored in double figures in each game this year since being held to only 8 points against Connecticut.

    Rostís effectiveness may be dampened a bit this season as post player Kristin Koetsier, last seasonís spotlight player in the WMU preview article, has foregone her final year of eligibility with the Broncos. Koetsier was the V Foundation Comeback of the Year Award winner in 2001-2002, earned first-team all-MAC conference accolades three times, and ranks fifth in the career scoring charts at Western Michigan with 1,452 points. With such an important offensive presence gone this year, opponents may focus on Rost more than ever.

    Unfortunately, the Western Michigan website doesnít have pages for individual players, so thereís no link to an official Casey Rost site.

    The Prediction

    The Broncos are a high scoring team, having led the MAC in points per game last season and seem to be favorites in doing so this season. Any squad that can score 117 and 116 points in a game, regardless of the level of competition, knows how to put the ball in the hoop. Rost and Jilian provide a stable backcourt and excelled last year against the Boilermakers. Freshman Carrie Moore provides additional firepower in the backcourt. Forward Kelly Koerber rarely misses from the floor and senior Lori Crisman provides a large amount of the Broncosí rebounding (8.1 per game). WMU has already played a difficult schedule and should be primed for the Boilermakers, after having faced Michigan, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Arizona State on the road. The teamís identity as a deep, high-scoring, skilled squad has been shaped over the past few seasons and continues to flourish this year.

    The Boilermakers, however, also have an identity: they donít play the other teamís game, they play intelligent basketball and rarely beat themselves, and they donít go through wild changes from game to game. The squad looks for balance in its scoring, although Shereka Wright will always be counted on as the go-to player; six players average between 6.6 and 10.4 points per game. Add that the team isnít turning the ball over much this season (15 per game), and itís clear that the Boilermaker squad is going to wear down opponents rather than speed past them with 116 point outings.

    The Boilermakers let down their guard in last yearís game against the Broncos, letting a 21-point lead evaporate to only two with minutes remaining in the second half. Crisman, Jilian, and Rost started in that game, which saw Mary Jo Noon score 22 points and grab 7 rebounds. If the Boilermakers experience such a letdown on Tuesday in Kalamazoo, the Broncos could pull off the upset victory. However, the Boilermakers wonít let the Broncos reach the 92.2 points they average in their wins. Purdue prevails, 75-59.


As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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