Lady Raiders showcasing athletic defense

The Texas Tech Lady Raiders offense has always gained attention, but this season the defense is among the best in the nation. The old adage is that defense wins championships. Could the Lady Raiders defense prove to be the key to a long awaited second championship?

In the first six games of the season Lady Raiders' Head Coach Marsha Sharp has gone with a small lineup that has wreaked havoc with opponents. The typical unit features 3 guards and a fourth player who is essentially a small forward, along with a post player. Some have speculated that this type of lineup was being used to create more speed in transition, but in reality defense is the primary goal. Coach Sharp is hoping to use this type of defensive lineup to combat Big 12 teams such as Iowa State, who like to run a four guard offense. Early in the season this defense has faired well against every type of team it has faced. UCSB was probably the tallest team that the Lady Raiders will face all year, while Rutgers is one of the most physical teams Texas Tech has faced. So far the Lady Raiders are giving up just 46.5 points per game against a schedule that has featured two top 20 opponents.

This defense has been effective largely because of the quickness it places on the floor. None of the Lady Raiders' opponents have had much success trying to penetrate, so they've been forced to pass the ball around the perimeter in hopes of finding a player slashing to the basket. This might be easy if it weren't for players like Jia Perkins playing almost as aggressively as a player can without forcing foul trouble. The pressure on the perimeter players forces the opponent into mistakes, which ignites the Texas Tech fast break.

The biggest potential weakness of this type of defensive philosophy is an inability to rebound, but the Lady Raiders' have avoided that problem as well. Texas Tech is only giving up 12.3 offensive rebounds per game despite the size disadvantage they usually face. Casey Jackson has been a big part of this success. Jackson has shown an ability to use her quickness to achieve position on rebounds. Another key is the rebounding of the guards; the Texas Tech guards have recovered 18.8 rebounds per game. Once again athleticism has won the battle, but can this work against a top 5 team? Coach Sharp has figured out a defense that can overcome a serious height disadvantage to dominate opposing offenses, but only time will tell how this tactic will play out against the top teams in the Big Twelve.

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