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Your Curated Guide to Women's Sports

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, AP Women's Soccer
Twitter: @AnnieMPeterson

 
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, High Post Hoops
Twitter: @HowardMegdal

  
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, NWHL Broadcaster
Twitter: @ELindsay08
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The Gustafson Test—Vic Schaefer interview—must-click women's basketball links


Megan Gustafson, the Iowa big, has taken her skill set to its logical extreme.
After a junior season in which she seemed to max out on efficiency—67.1 percent from the field—she's reached some insane new level so far in 2018-19, with a 76.8 percent mark from the field, including a pair of contests, against Western Kentucky and Florida State, where she hasn't missed a shot at all.
To be sure, she was already on WNBA front office radars. But her path to the next level is a bit more precarious than it would have been, say, five years ago. Gustafson doesn't shoot threes, which separates her from some others at her size coming out of college—notably, she is the same height as Katie Lou Samuelson, and other bigs as well, like SMU's Alicia Froling, have the three in their skill sets. The way the WNBA plays, that is more important than ever.
But what I am most curious about is this: who does she guard at the WNBA level? And she has an opportunity to show those skills on Thursday night against a pair of different players when Iowa faces Notre Dame. The Irish have Jessica Shepard, yet another example of a big (6'4) with a face-up game that extends beyond the three-point arc, and Brianna Turner, your more traditional five (though versatile, thanks to Muffet McGraw's system) operating out of the post.
Do not miss this game. It's going to be fun in and of itself, but it will also go a long way toward determining what people in the W think about Gustafson's ability to perform after she finishing making virtually every shot for the Hawkeyes.

This Week in Women's Basketball


Good stuff from Katie Barnes on Northern Arizona signee Sanjana Ramesh, brought here through the India pipeline.

Michelle Smith has you covered on Pac-12 freshmen.

Speaking of the Pac-12, here's Ben Dull's weekly column.

Matt Ellentuck talked to Sue Bird about her new NBA front office job.

The great Danielle Lerner profiles Louisville's all-Kentucky freshman class.

Paul Nilsen previews Eurobasket 2019.

Jordan Zuniga details why Iowa is more than just Meg Gustafson.

Sloane Martin on Kenisha Bell.

Princeton coach Courtney Banghart has a podcast!

And Dawn Staley asks the hard questions about black coaches in The Players' Tribune.

Tweet of the week!


Five at The IX: Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State head coach

Introduction to subject of interview goes here.

I spoke to Vic, alongside Doug Feinberg of the AP, at national media day in Bristol late last month.

QUESTION: Notre Dame #1 today. How does somebody beat a team like that that?

VIC SCHAEFER: Yeah, I mean what do they have, 80 points a game coming back just in their starting five? It's a pretty impressive group, obviously, and well-coached. How do you beat them? I think you gotta impose your will and maybe try to take them out of some things that they are comfortable doing. You know, they're really, really good last year and they're going to be really good this year. I think probably by far the most deserving, no question.

QUESTION: Vic, you have a team this year that in a lot of ways is built around Teaira in a way that differs from the past and I just wondered, offensively, how do you got about making sure the flow is where you need it to be and what do you work on specifically with her to make that happen?

VIC SCHAEFER: Yeah, this is a different team than last year's team, but last year's team was quite different than any team I've ever coached. You know, offensively, all four could shoot it around T. I say this all the time, T averaged 18 and 14 during the season. 18 and 14 in the SEC and 20 and 18 in the NCAA tournament with kids that could shoot it. Well, we're still going to be shooting it, we're just probably not going to be making as many, so her numbers could and should possibly go up. Then, you add in Anriel Howard who's really good at cleaning up your mess.

I think we'll be different but we're going to be good. Certainly, us having four seniors; Jazz at point who's played so many big minutes for us throughout her career, and Jordan who played so many big minutes last year. Yeah, that's a good place to start... What it does is it really puts an emphasis on us as coaches, getting our young kids ready as soon as we can. We don't have time to sit around and wait. We gotta get them ready 'cause they're gonna play.

Jessika Carter and Xaria Wiggins, my two freshman, are gonna play. Myah Taylor, who red shirted last year, is gonna play. Chloe Bibby, who played a lot of big minutes for us last year, our Australian kid who is just a sophomore is gonna play. So, it really puts an emphasis on developing those kids and getting them ready as soon as possible.

QUESTION: So is it more about building those younger players to do some of what you did last than building an offense around Teaira as sort of a throwback? You know, where you dump the ball in the post to someone like Teaira that would be par for the course when you have someone like her?

VIC SCHAEFER: Yeah, I think Teaira is good because of the people around her last year. Look, the kid went from, as a sophomore, she was sixth player of the year and maybe on the All-Defensive team but she goes from that to being a first team All-American, that's pretty unheard of to make that big a jump. Now, does that need to be our first option? Absolutely. If she's open and she's got her spot on the block where she wants to be, we need to give her the ball. But, I think, these other kids, our emphasis has been on developing their skill set, developing them offensively to where they can get something done themselves. In our league, if you can't create your own shot, man, it's a struggle. You gotta be able to create your own shot and so, for us, that's kinda where we are offensively. Then, the defensive chemistry piece, we really got a long way to go there.

QUESTION: How big is depth? I hear you talking. You can rattle off four or five kids that can dominate a game and Geno's doing the same thing, but it's like he has a catastrophe on his hands because he doesn't have six, seven, and eight. Can you get back to the Final Four with who you have or does that depth have to develop?

VIC SCHAEFER: Last year, depth-wise we probably went seven. We didn't have a lot of depth last year. I mean, I had no depth for T and so this year I think I've got depth for T. I've got depth at some other positions and so, I absolutely believe we can get there. Now, we're nowhere near capable right this second, but we don't have to be today. But, I do think that potential is there for us and I think we have the players who can do it.

Depth is always good, but I also think this: you hear coaches all the time, they want to talk about, "Oh, we can go ten, eleven, twelve, or nine, ten and eleven deep". Well, that's good and bad. It's hard to have continuity through substitution a lot of times. The good teams that have that now, they've got something special. But, when you start substituting nine and ten—eight's probably a good number, or seven or eight ... but when you start going nine, ten, eleven, to me, you're probably going to suffer somewhere. There's going to be a little bit of a step back whether it's your chemistry on offense, your chemistry on defense. Something's gonna maybe not be as good as with the others. So it sounds good, but you gotta be careful.

QUESTION: How much of a luxury is it when you have that post player so many others don't?

VIC SCHAEFER: Well, it's like you said. She's the best in the country low block player. It's hard to move her. She gets in her comfort zone down there, she's right on. She's been a 60% shooter her whole career, hard to keep her off the boards. I think the thing last year that she did was she became smarter, she didn't get in foul trouble, only had foul trouble with her one game and that's the first game we lost; South Carolina in the [SEC] championship game and hindsight's always 20/20. I probably should have played through those two fouls instead of sitting her, but, what's done is done. But in any case, I think, she's really good down there and so, again, our job is to not be satisfied with that. We've got to continue to work.
 
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