Winter break came with little rest for women’s basketball team

The women's basketball team's Winter break was not much of a break.

By Steven Rowell/Staff Writer

Over the Winter break, while some students were resting and others going on vacation and leaving town, the FIU women’s basketball team did the opposite.

Over the duration of the break, up until Jan. 2, the Panthers went 3-2 and went 1-1 in the two tournaments that they participated in. FIU participated in the Gator Holiday Classic in Gainesville, Fla. on Dec. 20-21 and hosted the FIU Fun and Sun Classic on Dec. 28-29.The lone game that FIU played over the break that was not a part of a tournament was the 70-65 win on the road against Tennessee Tech on Dec. 16.

In addition to the games, the team has taken advantage of extra practice time, and players such as senior guard Jerica Coley and sophomore guard Taylor Shade have used the extra time to work on certain aspects of their game.

While Shade is on break from being an FIU student, she has been using the extra time to focus on the student side of the game of basketball through film.

“I’m just trying to break down what I can improve and what the defense may do and then coming to practice and kind of just feeding off Jerica [Coley] as well and just listening to the coaches and doing what I need to do to help the team win,” Shade said.

Coley had herself a couple shining moments including scoring a career high 47 points against Wake Forest on Dec. 29 and also being named Conference USA Player of the Week on Dec. 30. Despite that, the senior still took the extra time off from school to work on some aspects of her game.

“Just always do extra shooting and watch some extra film which I don’t do that often but I need to do and so I will probably do that a little more,” Coley said.

Russo Nearing 700th Career Win

As of Jan. 2, Head Coach Cindy Russo stands at 694 career wins in her 35th season roaming the sidelines for FIU women’s basketball. Russo stands six wins shy of joining the 700 club which is a plateau that only 16 other coaches in NCAA Women’s basketball history have reached.

When Russo was asked about it, she seemed more concerned about this season and just getting victories and more focused on this season than the accomplishment itself. The 700th win can happen as early as Jan. 22 when the Panthers host the University of North Texas.

“I didn’t even know anything about it, but you know right now winning games mean more than the honor to me,” Russo said.

Frontcourt by committee in absence of Davydova

With the absence of senior center Marita Davydova, that left big shoes to fill for the Panthers in the frontcourt.

So far it has been a production by committee stepping up in Davydova’s absence instead of one single player stepping up every single game. Some games have seen sophomore forward Wright be step up as the junior has three games of scoring double figures while consistently close to grabbing double figure rebounds a game. Wright is averaging 7.8 rebounds a game. She has posted one double-double so far this season.

When it is not Wright providing production from the front court, it is junior forward Tynia McKinzie being a threat down low. McKinzie has three double-doubles and was close two other times and has reached double figures in scoring six times this season.

“It’s exciting for us because we always knew that they [McKinzie and Wright] had that potential and when Marita [Davydova] went out they just had to step up and they have and they’ve done a good and are getting better every game,” Coley said.

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