January 17, 2024
The Weekly Fast Break: Scouting reports on point
How Auburn took down LSU and much more
Someone once asked us here at The Weekly Fast Break, “What really is in a scouting report?” It is an intriguing question because there is not one simple answer. Every head coach has their own system of scouting opponents, and they rely heavily on a multitude of things, ranging from film breakdown to opposing player evaluations to their own personal knowledge of the coaches and players they will face next. Head coaches also look to assistants and staff members to do a good deal of the scouting work and in most cases, the scouts are divided amongst the staff with each taking a certain number of opponents during the season.
How detailed a scouting report is going to differ from program to program, from coach to coach. We have been subject to scouting reports that are multiple pages in length, copied front-to-back, with photos of opposing players and their individual stats. We’ve been handed others that are one-to-two pages long with play diagrams included. Then there has been the report that is written meticulously on the white board in the locker room that gives you opposing player details and shows every cut of their ten different out-of-bounds plays.
Regardless of what kind of scout your coach presents you with, it is your job to be prepare. The worst thing a player can say is ‘we play them every year and their offense never changes – I know what their post players are going to do.’ That mindset gets you beat on a new back cut wrinkle off the high-ball screen or exposed when the freshman point guard pulls up from three in transition because you missed that detail written on the white board. No matter who is next on the schedule, your preparation can be the difference between a win and a loss and major minutes for you on the floor. Your coach wants you to believe that the loose ball you are chasing has your name on it – it is time to make the plays to keep your season headed in the right direction.
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Gamecocks on Point: There is just one undefeated team left in the country and they are leaving little doubt right now that they are the best in the nation. #1 South Carolina is 16-0 overall, 4-0 in SEC play after destroying Kentucky, 98-36, on Jan. 15. A balanced scoring attack saw six players on Dawn Staley’s squad hit double figures, including two of the ten scored by sophomore Ashlyn Watkins coming from her breakaway dunk after a steal. The wins by South Carolina so far against SEC foes have been decisive with the Gamecocks averaging 88.2 points/game while holding opponents to 56.3 points/game. 6’7 senior Kamilla Cardoso has established herself as one of the most consistent posts in the nation, averaging a double-double on the season (13.1 points and 10.6 rebounds/game.) Led by the depth in the backcourt, including freshman talent MiLaysia Fulwiley, the Gamecocks have been dialed in for every game. Next up are two important road tests – at Texas A&M on Jan. 21 and then at #10 LSU on Jan. 25.
Streaking Through the Quad: We love to talk about all kinds of streaks in sports, especially those in the win/loss column. These streaks come in all shapes and sizes, and we like to measure them in numbers – good and bad. For instance, if you are a Detroit Lions fan, you most definitely know that with the win over the Los Angeles Rams on Jan. 14 it was the Lions’ first NFL playoff win in 32 years.
Women’s college basketball is currently seeing a handful of streaks grow game by game, starting with #1 South Carolina who has won 16 in a row. #2 Iowa has run their streak to 15, with (R/V) Fairfield from the MAAC on a 12-game winning streak. Murray State out of the Missouri Valley Conference and #7 K-State from the Big 12 have each won 11 games in a row. There are four teams in the nation that have run off 10 straight wins, including #9 UConn. Streaks are made to be broken (just ask any die-hard Lions fan) but these are fun ones to keep your eyes on as the season continues. *A special thanks to the MVC Communications Department weekly WBB notebook for the statistical assist
Poll Watch: We entered last week’s AP Top 25 poll with three undefeated teams and two of them receiving first place votes. Fast forward and we now have just one undefeated team, who is back to being the unanimous #1 – South Carolina at 16-0. #2 Iowa, #3 Colorado and #4 NC State all move up in this week’s poll with just one loss on the season. After a 73-65 defeat to cross-town rival USC, UCLA drops their first game of the year and moves down three spots to #5. The Trojans bounce up to #6, right ahead of Kansas State, in at #7 and the top-ranked Big 12 team this week. #9 UConn moves up four spots, while #12 Baylor falls eight spots after back-to-back losses last week. #15 Florida State, fueled by their 89-81 win over #14 Virginia Tech, moves up six spots. The Big 12 swapped teams in and out of this week’s poll with West Virginia dropping out but Iowa State jumping in at #24. The Cyclones are 5-0 in Big 12 play and 12-4 overall.
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North Dakota’s Kacie Borowicz was named the Summit League Women’s Basketball Peak Performer of the Week after she became just the third player in program history to register a triple double. The senior guard, who was the Preseason Player of the Year in the Summit League, posted 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in her team’s 100-75 win over Omaha on Jan. 11. Borowicz then followed that up with a 10-point, seven rebound performance in UND’s win over Kansas City on Jan. 13. This is the second player of the week honor of the season for the Roseau, Minnesota native and sixth of her career.
This season continues to be one for the record books for the reigning National Player of the Year, Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark. The senior guard was named Big Ten Player of the Week after she registered her fourth triple double of the season (second in a row) in the #2 Hawkeyes win over Purdue on Jan. 10. Clark dropped 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Boilermakers and then followed it up with a 30-point, 11-assist performance in Iowa’s dismantling of #16 Indiana 84-57 on Jan. 13. This was the 25th career Big Ten Player of the Week award for the senior from West Des Moines, Iowa, making her the all-time leader in conference history.
Holy Cross guard Simone Foreman was named Patriot League Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after helping her team to two conference wins and pushing the Crusaders winning streak to six. Foreman, a 5’9 sophomore, averaged a double-double with a team-leading 16.5 points and 11 rebounds in wins over Navy and Lehigh. She has started every game for Holy Cross this season, averaging 28 minutes/game and leads them in rebounding with 9.1 boards/game on the year.
Vanderbilt’s Khamil Pierre was named SEC Freshman of the Week, making it the second weekly conference award of her young collegiate career. The 6’2 forward averaged 16 points and nine rebounds in a pair of conference games where she shot 60.9% from the field and had double-digit points in back-to-back games. She scored a career-high 16 points in the Commodores 95-73 win over Kentucky on Jan. 11 and followed it up with her first career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds in a two-point loss to Missouri on Jan. 14.
Sanaa’ St. Andre of Tennessee State was named both Ohio Valley Conference Player and Newcomer of the Week after powering the Tigers to an 83-80 win over conference foe Lindenwood on Jan. 13. The 5’8 senior guard scored a career-high 29 points, including 10-for-12 from the free throw line, while playing a season high 36 minutes. This was St. Andre’s third OVC award of the season, her first as Player of the Week.
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There are a handful of non-conference games during the season that create electric atmospheres, but it is the conference battles that truly energize home crowds and teams to bring their best. On Sunday, Jan. 14 Auburn hosted then #7 LSU in a SEC matchup that on paper most definitely favored the reigning national champions. LSU entered the game averaging over 93 points/game and were on a 16-game winning streak. Auburn used the energy of their record-setting crowd of 7,720 fans to fuel their defensive effort and hold LSU to just 41.8% from the field and 0-for-2 from three-point range.
Auburn clung to a 64-62 lead in the final seconds of the game when LSU put the ball in the hands of their All-American forward Angel Reese. Tip your cap to the scouting report put together by the Auburn staff and their players for retaining the information and executing to stop the set called for Reese to go one-on-one to the rim off the dribble. 6’1 senior Taylen Collins defended Reese, kept the penetration in front, anticipated the behind-the-back dribble to change directions and funneled Reese into a double-team with guard JaMya Mingo-Young. The 5’8 graduate student ripped away the ball, was then fouled, and calmly sank two free throws at the other end to give Auburn a 67-62 victory.
Scouting reports matter and if there was ever an example of how important it is for players to stay focused for the entire 40 minutes of a game, this possession by Auburn is just that. When they needed a stop in the final moments against LSU, head coach Johnnie Harris’ team responded by not only playing great team defense without fouling but understanding the tendencies of a talented opposing player. Execution was on point resulting in a huge win for the Tigers that wear blue and orange.
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FULL COURT PRESS
Blizzards, cold fronts, and frozen roads have swept across the country this week which means we are all moving inside to catch up with our favorite teams. But we caution you – take nothing for granted with your conference matchups because the scouting reports are thorough, and everyone watches your team’s tendencies on the floor. Coaches are on high alert because they know the staff on the other bench has pulled out a new out-of-bounds play just for this game, so everyone needs to be on their toes with their head on a swivel – the action is come for you (check your local listings and broadcast schedule for times):
#25 UNLV at San Diego State
#22 Marquette at Villanova
Minnesota at #16 Indiana
#9 UConn at Seton Hall
Wyoming at New Mexico
#15 Florida State at Syracuse
Tennessee at Mississippi State
Green Bay at Detroit-Mercy
Auburn at R/V Vanderbilt
North Dakota at Oral Roberts
#17 Gonzaga at Loyola-Marymount
Murray State at UNI
#5 UCLA at #3 Colorado
#6 USC at #20 Utah
R/V Oregon State at Cal
Charleston at Stony Brook
Army at Navy
LaSalle at VCU
Kansas at #7 Kansas State
TCU at #24 Iowa State
DePaul at #9 UConn
Penn at Harvard
R/V Michigan State at Minnesota
R/V Fairfield at Marist
South Dakota at South Dakota State
#2 Iowa at #18 Ohio State
Charlotte at Temple
Missouri at Kentucky
Arizona at Washington State
Belmont at UNI
R/V Vanderbilt at Tennessee
#1 South Carolina at Texas A&M
Toledo at Ball State
#5 UCLA at #20 Utah
Mississippi State at Florida
#7 Kansas State at #12 Baylor
#9 UConn at #22 Marquette
UCF at TCU
Written by Missy Heidrick
I am a former shooting guard at Kansas State and spent almost 20 years working in Higher Education and Division 1 athletics. I am currently a basketball analyst for television and radio, contributing correspondent at The Next, WBB Naismith Award board of selectors member and run my own consulting business. I am a proud mother of two and wife to a patient husband who is almost as big of a sports junkie as I am!