Unkrich seeking first summer win

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JUNE 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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In the opening week of the Game Time League, coach Brendan Unkrich’s team mustered just 51 points in defeat.

Now, in Week 2, the squad faces the challenge of beating Randy Larson’s squad, which more than doubled Unkrich’s score in Week 1 in a 126-78 victory over Bethany Doolittle’s team.

For Larson, the chief concern is maintaining the momentum and chemistry his squad built in its first game. Basically, he’s looking for his team to keep its foot on the gas.

“We only have seven games; the reason you play in the league is to get some experience and develop,” Larson said. “Why would not play full-out every night? You’re just throwing away minutes, throwing out an opportunity to get better.

“It’s easy to play half-speed in a game when you’re up by 30, but it’s also an immature thing to do, and we’re not going to do it.”

Look for guards Moran Lonning and Whitney Jennings to push the ball down court as often as possible and to kick the ball out to the perimeter when defenses collapse on penetrating drives.

The up-tempo attack featured a near triple-double from Jennings in the first week; she finished with 34 points, 9 boards, and 9 assists.

“I think next week and for the rest of the summer, we just need to keep doing the same things,” Jennings said. “If we push the ball and share the ball, we’re going to be fine.”

In other league action, Joe Johnston’s defensive powerhouse takes on Brian Joens’ team in North Liberty as well.

Joens’ group features a pair of Hawkeyes in Alexa Kastanek and Nicole Smith. Last week, they struggled mightily from the 3 zone, shooting just 7-of-33 on such attempts.

Although they played better offensively around the rim, the likes of Chase Coley and Carly Mohns figure to make that more difficult in Week 2, meaning that Joens and Company needs to be more efficient from beyond the arc.

Johnston’s group put forth an underwhelming offensive performance last week, but the players expect stifling defense will lift it past Joens tonight.

“If we hold them on defense and we still win on offense, even though we didn’t put up a big number, that’s fine with me,” Mohns said after last week’s game. “A win’s a win, and I think if you just hold them on defense, your offense will come eventually.”

Fans will also get their second look at incoming five-star recruit Tania Davis as Kay DiLeo’s team squares off against Doolittle’s.

Davis dropped 26 points in her Game Time début last weekend, while the player-coach Doolittle and Company struggled to corral the offensive attack of Larson.

The team’s best option may be to get the ball down low to Doolittle and Iowa teammate Hailey Schneden. Last week, the two combined for 29 points, although an exhausted Doolittle shot just 6-of-16 from the field.

If Doolittle’s team plays as it did in week one, look for Davis to push the ball in transition often against a taller but slower team. Doolittle’s best bet defensively might be to try to limit DiLeo’s squad to a half-court offense — which of course is easier said than done.

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