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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student


Team aims to break out of offensive slump

Confidence breeds good shooting.\nThat's what women's basketball coach Kathi Bennett has stressed this season, as her "fragile" Hoosiers have averaged a Big Ten-worst 58 points per game.\nBut after her players attacked Tuesday's practice with positive attitudes, Bennett said she feels the Hoosiers (8-8, 2-3 Big Ten) can flaunt intensity and poise Thursday night against No. 11 Purdue (13-3, 4-2 Big Ten) at Assembly Hall.\n"(The guards are) getting to the rim better," Bennett said. "We just have to finish and hit some shots to build confidence. I really believe in this team. We're going to give it everything we've got."\nThe only Big Ten player to average a double-double, center Jill Chapman, has remained IU's most reliable weapon with 16.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. But the guards must improve their shooting against the 2001 NCAA runner-up Boilermakers, who have held opponents to 62.8 points a game this season, Bennett said. \nThe Hoosiers, on the other hand, rank last in the conference in five offensive categories -- scoring offense (58 points per game), field goal percentage (35 percent), three-point percentage (18 percent), assists (9.6) and three-pointers made (2.2).\nTwo things need to happen on offense against 2001 Big Ten champion Purdue -- penetration to the basket and free throw shooting, Bennett said. The Hoosiers rank in the Big Ten's upper tier in free throw percentage (73 percent for fifth place).\nWith their scoring troubles in mind, the Hoosiers have focused on defense this week in practice. They lead the Big Ten in scoring defense at 61.6 points, right ahead of Purdue.\n"We're still stressing defense," forward Erin McGinnis said. "Coach Bennett is and will always be a defense-minded coach. Defense makes your offense. You can't force your offense."\nThe offensive slump has taken its toll on point guard Heather Cassady. In non-conference games, the senior averaged 14.5 points. But in conference games, she averages 10.2 points, which ranks below the Big Ten's top 29 scorers. \nFatigue and injury could have helped cause the downfall. Cassady has averaged 38.6 minutes in Big Ten games while nursing a contusion, after forward Jamie Gathing's shin hit her back during practice two weeks ago. But Cassady's role as IU's lone point guard shouldn't require huge offensive output, Bennett said.\n"We can't run her off screens," Bennett said. "We can't set her up as much because she's got to bring the ball up, she has to play 40 minutes a game, she's got to defend the point guard."\nWith Cassady preoccupied, Bennett said she expects other guards, namely starters Tara Jones (5.6 points in Big Ten games) and Jenny DeMuth (7.4) and reserve Jill Hartman (1.6) to perk up.\nCassady said she still plans to act aggressively on offense.\n"I think my role on this team is to handle the ball, and when I'm open, shoot the ball," Cassady said, who contributed 12 points in the loss to Iowa. "I think I tried to look for my shot a little, for penetration in the first half against Iowa, and I think I'm going to continue to do that."\nYet, IU has shot poorly even in close games, Bennett said. The team's shooting percentage has hovered around 34.5 percent in losses to Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa. The Hoosiers shot 36.9 percent in wins against Ohio State and Michigan State. \n"We have been in every game against Big Ten opponents," Bennett said. "(Against) the top teams, we have been shooting 32 to 35 percent, and we have been close down the stretch. Now that's encouraging to me because now we can break out of our shooting slump"

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