Ben Malakoff, Contributing Writer
Strong defense has carried Women’s Basketball to many wins, but it’s not the same as the Men’s HAVOC. The women are creating “chaos” on the court for this season’s opponents.
The Men’s defensive style is now known by its nickname, HAVOC, and an equivalent hasn’t been widely-bestowed to the women. But the defensive style of Women’s Basketball is arguably one of the best in the nation — coach Beth O’Boyle said the team wants to generate “chaos on the floor.”
“We want to get deflections. We want to use our defense to establish the tempo and to help our offense generate some points,” O’Boyle said. “We talked a little bit about being chaotic out there and just being really aggressive.”
Women’s Basketball ranks second in the nation in scoring defense, field goal defense and 3-point field goal defense, according to NCAA rankings.
“A lot of credit [to our defense],” said sophomore guard Taya Robinson. “We have been working on that a lot … and we talk about it as a team. When we get our defensive intensity up, we come back into games and our offense goes harder.”
Chaos is one way to describe what Women’s Basketball does on the court. In a game against Fordham Jan. 16, the Rams came back from 17 points down, including holding their opponent’s offense to just four points in the last quarter.
Robinson said assistant coach Kirk Crawford helped her improve her defensive skills.
“He helped me work [on defense] in the summertime and during the season,” Robinson said. “I knew it was something that I needed to work on. I knew I needed to work on a lot of things, but defense was one of them.”
But the “chaos” O’Boyle describes has not always characterized the Women’s defense. Last season, the Rams finished 7-22, winning only four Atlantic 10 games. The season ended in the first round at the hands of Saint Joseph’s in A-10 tournament at the Richmond Coliseum.
With no seniors on the roster last year, sophomore guard Tera Reed led the team in scoring, averaging 13.8 points. Bria Gibson, who led the team in rebounds, transferred to High Point.
There were some bright spots in the 2017-18 season for a team that only won seven games, such as Reed’s strong first season and an intense A-10 win against the regular season champs Saint Louis. But it was unknown to fans which direction coach Beth O’Boyle would take the team after a disappointing season.
“Our offseason development was a lot about trying to get our players better,” O’Boyle said. “We actually did more offense in the summer and in the spring than we did defense. It’s just a lot of individual skills being broken down. We spent a lot of time this summer working on that.”
Women’s Basketball has grown this season, reigning victorious against top programs like Wake Forest and Georgetown.
Robinson is a key force behind that success — last year, she averaged 9.1 points and finished with 91 rebounds in 21 games. Currently recovering from a knee injury, Robinson now averages 9.8 points but has already tallied 80 rebounds in 18 games. She has also tied her personal season-high of 17 steals so far.
“We were talking about that during the summer workouts. [O’Boyle] said she wanted to cause chaos,” Robinson said. “And we have.”