The Senior Women's National Team came away with an impressive first win yesterday against the host country Great Britain to get their first Olympic W in a very, very long time. After that heartbreaking loss to Russia Saturday, the SWNT came back to beat the hometown team in front of the hometown crowd. But how did this happen? Can Ball Ray takes a look at the defining factor that determined the win yesterday, and could define future wins, right here ...
The Senior Women's National Team have played two games thus far in London and in both contests they have looked good. But there are are marked differences in their outcomes - a tight loss to Russia to open the Games and a tight win over Great Britain.
What was the difference in each game?
Canada's SWNT is a good team and individually they watch up well with just about all of their Olympic counterparts. They may not have the Lauren Jacksons, Becky Hammons or Candace Parkers that other teams do but the players they do have could do just the same damage as any of these three players on a given night. Not only that but as a team they are collective experienced and with very good basketball IQs.
So then I ask again what was the difference in each game?
The answer to this question my friends is the fourth quarter closeout.
If you were watching either game that Canada has played, you will have noticed that they play very tough, hard nosed team defense and run a motion type offense. These they run very, very well and having been together as a unit for at least two to three summers it's almost automatic for them. On top of that, they are a scrappy bunch and they get into the mix clawing for rebounds, getting floor burns from loose ball diving and bruises from taking sharp elbows. This works well to the talent that Canada has and like you saw with both contests, it kept the SWNT in both games. The real difference is the fourth quarter finish.
Looking at the game against Russia, Canada had lead by as much as 12 at one point in the game and would then go to lose by 5 points. In this game, the SWNT played an incredible three quarters but then were outscored 21-10 in the final frame. They played great D but giving up 21 in the fourth was what ultimately was their death knell and against a team like Russia that simply will not get you the win.
If you take a look at the game the SWNT played against Great Britain yesterday, it was also a very scrappy affair. Lots of physical play, lots of floor burns and a lot of emotion since the home crowd was there to cheer on GB. The difference in this game was the way the team closed out the fourth quarter.
Both teams played it pretty even through three quarters but the SWNT were able to hold off the British and close the last period strong outscoring their opponents 18-12. The fact that Canada shot better from the floor overall than GB is a minor significance I would say since the fourth quarter is where you dig your heels in the sand and finish the game. After the disappointing outcome against Russia, a game that was well within Canada's grasp, the team made their adjustments and won a game that they should have won.
If the SWNT can keep their confidence into the fourth quarter, then they should be in all their games if they are close from here on in. Mind you, the French team that they play tomorrow will be a tough team to beat especially since they will be coming off the high of beating Australia 74-70 in overtime on Monday. This will be a huge test here for the ladies. They match up pretty well statistically and they will need to keep it close. If they can keep it close, Canada will need to close out that fourth.
And that fourth quarter could be the difference between 2-1 and a confidence high or 1-2 and confidence low heading into the game against Brazil.