Auburn, Ala.--Twelve games into the Terri Williams-Flournoy Era of Auburn women’s basketball the numbers are trending upward for the Tigers.
As a result the Tigers are carrying a 10-2 record during their holiday break. Coach Flo’s squad will return to action at 2 p.m. on Saturday with a home game vs. Samford in the final non-conference contest.
Auburn begins Southeastern Conference play on Jan. 3rd with a home game vs. Arkansas. Last season the Tigers entered league play with an 8-6 record on way to finishing with a 13-17 mark in Nell Fortner’s last season as head coach.
Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy is known to her players as Coach Flo.
Auburn is on an seven-game winning streak with much of the success a result of its defense, particularly aggressive full-court pressure and halfcourt trap schemes.
Senior Blanche Alverson, who is averaging 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per contest, says it is not a surprise to her that the Tigers are playing better basketball than they did last season.
“We’re a very experienced team,” she points out. “I think the new system just boosts our confidence even more in that we’re all really buying into the system and believing that our defense is going to win us games this year.”
Alverson notes that Auburn’s success on a four-game exhibition tour of Australia in the summer helped with the adjustment to the team’s new offensive and defensive systems as well as helping build relationships with the new coaching staff, which the senior says is a good one.
Auburn’s current starting lineup features Alverson at forward and fellow senior Jet Ouardad at point guard along with a pair of juniors, guard/forward Tyrese Tanner and center Peyton Davis. Rounding out the starting five is sophomore guard Hasina Muhammad, who leads the Tigers in scoring at 16.1 points per game.
“Hasina, even though she’s a sophomore, plays like a senior on the floor with all the experience she was able to gain last year,” Alverson says of the six-foot-one guard, who was named SEC Player of the Week last week following back-to-back victories vs. Hofstra and George Washington.
Muhammad, who can also play point guard and small forward, notes that she and her teammates like what the Tigers are doing this season.
“When Coach Flo first introduced her system to us, I believed that it was a system that was going to work,” the sophomore says. “It turns out that it's working for us so we’re going to keep winning and see how far it takes us.”
Hasina Muhammad prepares to shoot a free throw from early in her sophomore season.
Williams-Flournoy, who Auburn hired away from Georgetown University in April, says she is seeing progress from her team.
“I think they are halfway there,” the coach says. “I am a little high maintenance. I like perfection, I like doing it well. I think right now we are making some of same mistakes over again I would really like to get better at.”
The coach wants to see the Tigers’ take their defensive intensity to a higher level. She also wants more consistent rebounding. Consistency on offense has been an issue, too, something that at times has led to scoring droughts.
“I think they are buying in to what we are asking them to do,” Williams-Flournoy says. “I think they have learned how to play the way we want to play.
“I?think they learned that we aren’t changing so either you grab it and go with it or sit back and watch,” the coach adds. “That is pretty much what it comes down to, but what I tried to tell them in the beginning is that I think it is very fun the way we play and I think they are starting to realize it now.”
Alverson, who should top the 1,000 points scored mark in her career later this season, says she is seeing progress from her final Auburn team and agrees with the coach that the new style of play is fun.
Auburn’s two losses were in tournament games to N.C. State and San Diego State in November.
“I think we have definitely improved,” Alverson says. “We started out our season on the road at the N.C. State Tournament. We won our first game and played okay. N.C. State was our first big test and I think we have gotten so much since that game and the San Diego State game.
“We have come together as a team and just bought into Coach Flo’s system,” the forward points out. “We still have a lot of improving to do and we will get better throughout the year.
“I think everybody is starting to buy in and work really hard on the defensive end,” Alverson adds. “We are starting to see that pay off.”
Here is how the 2012-13 Tigers compare to last season’s team in key statistical categories:
Points Per Game: 71.7 vs. 58.5 Stock Up
Points Allowed Per Game: 55.7 vs. 58.0 Stock Up
Rebound Margin: plus 4.9 vs. plus 0.7 Stock Up
Turnovers Per Game: 16.0 vs. 18.7 Stock Up
Turnovers Forced Per Game: 22.6 vs. 18.7 Stock Up
Field Goal Percentage: 45.0 vs. 38.2 Stock Up
Field Goal Percentage Defense: 34.2 vs. 38.5 Stock Up
Three-Point Field Goals: 30.2 percent vs. 33.1 percent Stock Down
Three-Point Field Goals Defense: 30.0 percent vs. 29.5 percent Stock Down
Free Throw Shooting: 61.5 percent vs. 63.4 percent Stock Down
Steals Per Game: 12.6 vs. 9.8 Stock Up
Assists Per Game: 17.5 vs. 11.97 Stock Up
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