After the Georgia women’s basketball team fell to No. 2 Texas on Dec. 3, head coach Joni Taylor was frustrated but optimistic about her team's potential going forward in the season.
She was frustrated about the inability at times to run their offense. Taylor believes that the Bulldogs get a lot of their baskets off transition, so some players are still getting adjusted to running offensive plays.
"When you can practice and you don’t have to worry about preparing for an opponent it gives you a chance to just rep certain things that you don’t get a chance to rep on a regular game week,” Taylor said. “We tell our kids all the time the difference between good and great is not much, but it feels like a lot.”
Coming off an 11-day break, the coaches have had time to drill in the fundamentals into their players. They worked on transition defense, defensive slides and shooting.
Senior Mackenzie Engram, who is averaging a team-high 12.8 points per game, said the loss to Texas has helped change the mindset of the team.
“We always say we want to be a final four team, and actually being able to play one and witness it first hand really showed us that we have a long way to go,” Engram said. “We have to start fixing the little habits that have been repeating day in and day out in order to get to a Texas level.”
One statistic that worries Taylor is the free-throw percentage. Currently, the Bulldogs are shooting a woeful 61.7 percent at the line which ranks them near the bottom of all Division-I schools.
Taylor says the poor free throw percentage is both a mental and shooting problem. She is combating this problem by making the players shoot a certain amount of free throws before they can get a water break, and they have to make a certain amount before they leave.
Freshmen Gabby Connally and Maya Caldwell, both pointed out the importance of hitting those shots. Engram said the team has been working on this problem all season, and she says that sometimes fatigue or lack of focus plays a part in the misses.
Taylor knows if her team wants to win close games this season that the free throw problem must be addressed.
“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room,” Taylor said. “Let’s talk about our free throw percentage because we our going to play a lot of close games, and this is going to come back and haunt us if we don’t get it fixed.”