The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Women’s team not meeting expectations

Casual observers of the SMU women’s basketball team would likely be pleased with what they see: a 14-5 record along with a 4-2 record in conference play.

They would be wrong.

If the season ended today, SMU would be in fifth place in Conference USA and have to participate in the play-in round of the conference tournament. That would make getting to the NCAA tournament an even taller task than it already is.

That would be a huge disappointment because this team is going to be the best one head coach Rhonda Rompola puts on the court in a while – maybe ever – and that’s not an overstatement.

SMU returned all five starters from last year’s team. It’s incredibly rare not to have significant turnover in the college game and a huge advantage for the Mustangs to have that type of experience come back.

Senior forward Janielle Dodds is the leading scorer in the conference with more than 1,600 points during her career. The second-leading scorer is more than 300 points behind Dodds.

The Mustangs have three players averaging 10 points per game or more: Dodds, forward Delisha Wills and guard Jillian Samuels.

The production is there. But the effort has not been enough when it really matters.

Sure, SMU has slaughtered many of its conference opponents so far. The team beat Marshall by 22 and UCF by 28 – huge margins of victory.

But the games that truly tested this team have produced results that suggest this is a team that cannot be considered among the elite.

SMU lost its conference opener at Tulsa in overtime. Until Saturday it was the only conference loss for the Mustangs. But then it happened again in much the same way. SMU had a lead late in the game and then gave it up in the final minute.

“This was like déjà vu up in Tulsa,” Rompola said afterward, lamenting the play of her team in close games.

The Mustangs must learn how to win in games that aren’t blowouts if they want to win the conference tournament. And SMU must learn how to get key stops if it wants to make the NCAA tournament.

Too many times Tulsa got second and third chances on offense and was able to turn those chances into points. Similar problems stymied the Mustangs in losses to Big XII teams Texas A&M and Texas Tech during non-conference play.

SMU can learn how to defend the boards better, but the desire to come out and play to win cannot be taught. It must come from within, and during Saturday’s loss to Tulsa it seemed like SMU didn’t want to win as much as the Golden Hurricane did.

Think I’m being harsh? Someone else agrees with me.

“You have to come out with better energy. I didn’t like the energy we came out with today,” Rompola said afterward.

The tests only continue for the Mustangs. UTEP, which is 6-0 in conference play and in first place, comes to Moody Coliseum this Thursday. SMU cannot afford another loss to a NCAA tournament-worthy team.

Let’s be clear – this season is a failure if the Mustangs don’t go dancing in March.

A loss to UTEP not only damages prospects with the NCAA selection committee, it would likely mess with the psyche of the team.

High stakes for a game played in January. But this is a team with high expectations.

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