The long and not short of it

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JUNE 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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Scoring on Iowa freshman Chase Coley is a tall order in the most literal sense.

The 6-3 Minneapolis native led Joe Johnston’s team to a 57-51 victory on June 17 in what can only be described as a defensive struggle.

“I’ve been coaching in this league for six years, and that was by far the best defensive performance I’ve seen,” Johnston said. “Chase is just amazing; she’s going to be terrific.”

The height of Johnston’s frontcourt, led by Coley and 6-1 Iowa teammate Carly Mohns, proved too much for Brendan Unkrich’s team.

“We got in their face; we didn’t sag off very much, and we played aggressive,” Mohns said. “I think that helped us in the long run.”

Unkrich’s squad looked stifled all night and shot just 17-of-51 from the field.

Coley and Mohns made scoring in the paint arduous for Unkrich’s team. Although blocks are not recorded as a statistic in the Game Time League, Coley’s size and athleticism makes her a blocking machine in both transition and post defense.

“She can block shots,  which allows us to play hard defense on the perimeter and take away the 3-point shots because we don’t worry about them driving around,” Johnston said. “If they drive around, all they’re going to do is run into Chase.”

In addition, the two Hawkeye forwards dominated the glass. Coley grabbed 16 boards in the game, and Mohns added another 12. Overall, they outrebounded Unkrich’s squad 46-35.

Freshman Christina Buttenham led Unkrich’s squad with 14 points. As a group, the team shot just 3-for-11 from beyond the arc.

And as well as Coley played defensively, she credited her guards for the team’s success.

“Our teammates worked really hard on the perimeter to force people one way or another,” she said. “They made it pretty easy for us inside.”

Coley and Mohns also combined for all but 12 of their team’s points, which may be concerning when they face more potent offensive opponents.

“Early on, they started doubling down on me, but if they’re doubling, that means one of my teammates is going to be open,” Coley said. “I think one thing we really need to work on is just keeping the floor spread.”

The team shot an abysmal 4-of-27 from the 3 zone and 20-of-67 from the field overall.

That’s not an efficient rate, but effectiveness on the opposite end created the wealth of chances on offense.

Johnston’s team finished with 16 more shot attempts than Unkrich’s, a testament to the philosophy that good offense starts with good defense.

Still, Johnston knows his team will have to make more shots in the future. The two teams combined for 108 points in their Week 1 matchup — a mark that Randy Larson’s team eclipsed that night by scoring 126 in a victory over Bethany Doolittle’s squad.

“We’ve got to do more than just throw it in to Chase every time,” Johnston said. “But we had a grand total of five minutes to prepare for this game. They’re smart girls. They’ve played a lot of basketball, and they know what they’re doing.”

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