After two relatively simple exhibition victories, the Golden Eagles are prepared to take their play a step further.
The women’s basketball team opens its season Saturday night against Butler at the Al McGuire Center. Marquette had no trouble trouncing Winona State and Wisconsin-Parkside this past weekend, handily defeating the two foes by a combined 55 points.
“Our season is starting,” junior center Katherine Plouffe said. “It’s a day we’re looking forward to, and this week we’re working on being consistent, our effort, toughness and matching our emotions in practice so we can be prepared for our game.”
The Golden Eagles will be face a Butler squad that struggled somewhat last season. The Bulldogs put together a 13-17 campaign in 2011-12, were 3-11 on the road and managed to shoot just 37 percent from the field in road games. Coach Terri Mitchell won’t be letting up on the accelerator, although on paper it appears that Marquette maintains an advantage.
“We’re trying to run a whole lot more,” Mitchell said. “We’re basically telling our players that you go until exhaustion, and then somebody else will get you. Don’t save it. There’s nothing to save on the court.”
Mitchell said she also hopes her team can improve its shot selection. The Golden Eagles dominated the paint between the two exhibition games, scoring 98 points down low while allowing just 28, but they could only shoot 5-for-25 from long range.
“I don’t, obviously, like our three-point percentage,” she said. “We have to be more selective. I prefer going to the hoop, and the three becomes secondary.”
Sophomore guard Arlesia Morse, who scored 14 points in the UW-Parkside win, saw plenty to praise about the offense this weekend but wanted to keep that momentum going once the season commences.
“(We need to) be more efficient with our plays, learn to be able to read when somebody plans on slipping for backdoor cuts,” Morse said. “Working on things as individual players and as a team, communicating more when we start pressing teams (and) where we should rotate. At the end of a game, when our opponent is tired, we already know the things we have to do to be efficient.”
Plouffe turned her attention in practice this week to the defensive end of the game. Marquette knows that not all teams will have the same struggles Winona State and Parkside had shooting the ball, so the players are all taking a closer look at what defensive steps need to be taken in preparation for teams closer to their skill level.
“Rebounding and transition is our identity as a team,” Plouffe said. “We just need to keep doing that in practice and getting consistent so that once our real season comes, it’ll be easy for us in the game.”
Butler is transitioning from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10, a conference that can help make the Bulldogs more competitive and bolster their tournament hopes by allowing them to play tougher teams. The Bulldogs lost two of their top three scorers from last year to graduation, but the team spread its scoring enough to make any player a potential threat.
An interesting scheduling note: this will be the only home game in November for the Golden Eagles. After the Butler tilt, the team will play at Georgia Tech, against Marshall and Texas A&M at the Texas A&M Classic, and at South Dakota State before returning to the Al on Dec. 1 against Fordham.