After ending a season-high five-game homestand, the JU women’s basketball team (3-5) will embark on a trip to the Lone Star State as the Dolphins compete in the South Padre Island Shootout beginning on Friday at 8 p.m. ET against SMU.
JU completes the weekend on Saturday against either Virginia Tech or IUPUI depending on its outcome against the Mustangs. The Consolation Game will be on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET with the Championship Game following at 8 p.m. ET. No matter the opponent, the Dolphins have not matched up against any of the participants in program history.
JU is 1-7 against Conference USA opponents all-time with a 61-50 win over UCF on Nov. 21, 2006 being the first.
Against UCF, junior guard Courtney Jackson tallied a career-high 22 points after connecting on 9-of-18 shots from the floor, including a 4-for-10 effort from beyond the arc... junior guard Virginia Gregoire tallied 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field...junior forward Desarae Johnson added seven points, six rebounds and three blocks...sophomore forward Teneskei Richardson chipped in with nine rebounds and senior guard Regina Omoite had six assists.
Miss Jackson is for real
After a slow start to her junior season, guard Courtney Jackson has emerged as the Dolphins’ top scoring threat in the past two games.
Lost in the shuffle of the senior trio, Jackson’s ability to shoot the outside shot and the pull up jumper in the lane also gives opponents headaches.
Jackson starting things off by scoring 12 points against Lipscomb to help JU to its first conference win of the year. She continued her torrid streak by planting a career-best 22 points on UCF by connecting on 9-of-18 shots (4-of-10 from beyond the arc).
With JU in search of a source of consistent scoring, Jackson may prove to be the complimentary balance.
Taking care of the ball
One of the staples of a Jill Dunn program is winning the turnover battles. Now in her fifth season with the program, those numbers are beginning to ring true as the Dolphins set a program low for turnovers per contest last season.
In her first year, JU averaged a program-record 17.1 turnovers per contest, compared to 19.0 by its opponents. In year two, the Dolphin’s finished with 18.8 turnovers per contest compared to 19.0 by their opponents.
In 2006-07, JU led the A-Sun in turnover margin (+4.80) with an average of 18.3 turnovers per contest. The Dolphins also forced a conference-high 22.2 turnovers per game.
Last year, the Dolphins finished the regular season leading the conference in turnover margin (+4.55) and were second in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.88). JU currently averages 16.7 turnovers per contest. JU opponents are averaging 21.3 turnovers per game.
This year has followed the same tune as JU averages 17.5 turnovers per contest. Dolphin opponents are tallying an average of 21.3 miscues per game. In the conference rankings, JU ranks second with a +3.88 turnover margin.
JU puts the clamps on
Despite its early struggles to score, the JU defense is among the best in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
JU is second in the conference in turnover margin (+3.88), scoring defense (58.1 ppg), third blocked shots (4.13 bpg) and rebounding margin (-2.0), fourth in in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.288), fifth in steals (9.75 spg) and sixth in field goal percentage defense (.399).
JU has held its opponent to less than 55 points in four of eight games and the opposition has shot less than .400 in five of eight games, including three consecutive games (Belmont, Lipscomb, UCF).
Early scoring blues
With the graduation of forward Ashley Williams, JU entered the year in search of a new identity as the program turned a new chapter. Thus far, the identity is still a work in progress and the Dolphins are suffering in the stats because of it.
The most glaring stats has been on the offensive end of the floor. Head coach Jill Dunn has retooled the program to be up-tempo and high scoring but her machine did not hit on all cylinders after seven games.
In four years, Dunn’s squads have increased its scoring average each season. Beginning with 59.1 points per game in 2004-05, the Dolphins improved to a program-record 67.7 ppg last season.
In shooting percentage, the Dolphins also improved each year under Dunn. Starting with .354 in 2004-05, JU improved to .414 last season.
This year was a completely different story as Dunn and her Dolphins found baskets hard to come by.
JU has scored under 50 points in three of its first seven games this year after scoring less than 50 points in only five games in the entire Jill Dun era (2004-present). In fact, the last time the Dolphins scored less than 50 points in more than one game was Dunn’s first season (2004-05, three).
Even with a season-high 71 points against UCF, JU ranks last in the conference standings in field-goal percentage (.343) and are ninth in 3-point field-goal percentage (.243) and scoring offense (54.6 ppg).