Protect the Ball, Protect this House

Steve Strain takes a look at the Lady Raiders opening round matchup with USF.

The University of South Florida's athletic website undoubtedly took a ton of hits Monday night from Lubbock as soon as the pairing was announced.  

While the 21-10 Bulls have a nice team and are having a very good year, they play in one of the most heralded conferences for women's basketball in the country largely because of perennial powers Notre Dame and UCONN – the Big East.


So many in Lady Raider land, including myself, had to hit the world wide web to see what this team is all about.


And for someone who does what I do in looking at numbers, I think the Lady Raiders MUST do one thing in particular very well in order to win their first tourney game in 8 years, and that is protect the basketball.  


That should be good news as Tech normally does that well.  But just as well South Florida can cause a team to cough it up.


The Bulls force 10.7 steals per game (for the season that's 332 swipes). That's more than 100 more than their opponents.  


As a result, they've turned the ball over 115 fewer times than opponents.  Tech was the best in the Big 12 during the regular season at turnover margin themselves.  


But if you believe you're only as good as your last game, you can find 21 reasons against Oklahoma State why Tech needs to do a better job at eliminating turnovers.


Protect it well, and South Florida will get impatient at the other end. Why?  


They shoot a LOT!  269 more field goals attempted than opponents, including 57 more three-point attempts.  


Word from some who saw them recently was they do it from the outside too, a nice change for a Lady Raider opponent since so many try to take advantage of the Lady Raiders lack of size at the post.


So if the Lady Raiders can be smart with the ball and South Florida doesn't shoot lights out at the other end, the 8 year drought could be over, and we can then start surfing the web to learn more about Cal or Fresno State in time for Monday.


See you at the USA, and let's protect AND pack the house!!

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