FIU looking to Improve Team Defense and Chemistry on Offense

Jerica Coley scored in double-digits to lead her team past Tennessee Tech.

After a loss to Florida Gulf Coast University on Nov. 8, and also before hitting the road for three straight games, senior guard Jerica Coley and sophomore guard Taylor Shade cited things that the Panthers must improve on.

The Panthers already with obstacles such as the absence of senior center Marita Davydova, and also with many players playing with limited experience on their belt, FIU is still looking for improvement on the defensive end.

“We just need to work on our defense a lot, we play man and we switch, so it’s not like a huge scheme we just got to play better defense,” Coley said.

“We need team defense; individually we have our strengths and weaknesses but if we can get it down together as a team I think that will be the turning point for us going on the road,” Shade said.

So far to start the season the Panthers have allowed both Florida Gulf Coast and the University of Central Florida to do damage in the paint. In their loss to FGCU, FIU allowed the Eagles to score 46 points in the paint and in their Nov. 15 loss to UCF, the Knights put up 42 points in the paint.

FIU hasn’t been hurt by three-pointers as they have allowed a combined 6 makes on 24 attempts in their first two games. In their first two games, however they have allowed their opponents to penetrate and also reach the free throw line.

While defense is something FIU is seeking improvement in, the Panthers also look to reverse the turnover trend and get in more sync on offense.

“We are still figuring out our offense a little bit, like coach said we are still figuring out each other because there are a lot of new people so we have to get used to each other and how people are going to play us,” Coley said.

They were able to cut-down the turnovers from 20 against FGCU to 13 against UCF and the points off turnovers from 30 against FGCU to 15 against UCF.

Another trend that hasn’t gone FIU’s way is the edge in fast break points. For a team that likes to run and play up-tempo, the Panthers have only two fast break points in two games. Against FGCU, they were outscored 16-0 on the fast break, and UCF outscored FIU 16-2.

As FIU seeks to get the offense in sync, they will have to do it without Davydova whose return is still uncertain, who was the Panther’s second leading scorer last season and their top rebounder. Davydova’s only action this season was in an exhibition game on Oct. 27 against Nova Southeastern.

“She is a huge contributor on offense, defense, and rebounds so we definitely have to adjust now,” Coley said.

Panthers fall to 0-2, look to bounce back at Harvard

Against UCF, unlike the game against FGCU, neither team led by double digits as UCF pulled away down the stretch over FIU 71-66. Coley led FIU by scoring 25 points on 11-25 shooting.  Sophomore Brianna Wright added 12 points her first double figure scoring game of her career. For UCF, senior forward Sara Djassi led the way with 23 points.

Next up, the Panthers travel to Cambridge, Mass. to take on Ivy League opponent Harvard College on Nov. 19. Harvard is 3-1 and currently on a three game winning streak. The Crimson are coming off a 84-56 win over North Dakota State University. Harvard is led by senior guard Christine Clark who is averaging 18.2 points per game and is coming off a 21 point outing against NDSU. Harvard so far is forcing 17.5 turnovers a game including an average of 7.5 steals per game.


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