Indiana Daily Student

Team shows early energy

The women's basketball team is taking its 7-1 record on the road this weekend to face 1-4 South Florida in the Dodge Shootout in Tampa, Fla. \nDespite a poor record and low numbers from the Bulls, the Hoosiers said they are taking this game as seriously as any other game.\n"You have to respect everybody," junior guard Heather Cassady said. "On any given night, you can beat anybody. I think that's been proven a lot, so we have to respect them."\nThis is the best start IU has had since the 1994-95 season, and the Hoosiers are already backing up their predictions. The team received 30 votes in The Associated Press Poll Monday after a 53-51 loss to then-No. 8 Louisiana Tech. Junior center Jill Chapman was named Big Ten Player of the Week after the Hoosiers' first four wins, and IU is among the top four in 10 of 19 categories for the Big Ten. \nCoach Kathi Bennett credits the success to the energy the team has shown lately. In the Hoosiers' final practice Thursday, the team was all smiles as it ended the practice with a free-throw drill. \nOne player was at the free throw line, while the rest of the team watched from the baseline. How many free throws the player missed determined how many sprints the team would run. Even that couldn't wipe the giddiness off their faces.\n"We're more of a team this year," Cassady said. "We communicate better than we did. Our practices help, because we work really hard."\nSouth Florida got off to a rough start this year. The Bulls' leading scorers are sophomore guard Aiya Shepard and junior center Denetrice Stinson, who average 21 and 14 points per game, respectively. Nine of the 12 players on the team are underclassman, and five are true freshmen. The team averaged 67 points and 32 rebounds in their first five games, and are shooting 40 percent from the field goal range.\n The Hoosiers spent their practices going over possible situations they might see from South Florida.\n "We walked through a couple of their sets," freshman forward Charliss Ridley said. "They like to penetrate a lot. We have to be quick and on our feet. That's what we've been working on defensively."\nIU has also spent time focusing on end-of-the-game situations. In four of its eight games, the final score has been decided in the final minutes. The team won with a three point shot from junior guard Tara Jones at the buzzer in the non-conference opener against Washington. Last second threes were also crucial last weekend in games against Louisiana Tech and Houston.\nBennett said the team has taken time to prepare for the possibility of those situations.\n"We have to stay with the game plan," Bennett said. "As a coach, I sure would like that not to happen, but I don't have much control over that. We practice at least twice a week on what we'd like to do." \nIt will be the second of four games the Hoosiers play on the road. Despite the long airplane rides and time changes, the team continues to remain energized, Bennett said.\n"I told them at the end of practice that they make life worth living, because they have really come together," Bennett said. "Energy and attitude is contagious, and the team is being contagious. But I'm not going to lie to you, winning helps"

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