NORMAL — As problems continue to tower over solutions for the 0-15 Illinois State women's basketball team, Redbirds' coach Barb Smith sees a silver lining through the bank of clouds.
"We're fighting, we're clawing, we're scratching," Smith said. "A team going through a tough season like this, they keep giving and they keep showing up. It's going to pay off."
Smith hopes payday is Sunday when Indiana State visits Redbird Arena for a 2 p.m. Missouri Valley Conference game. Admission is free on Pack the Arena Day.
The Redbird coach, whose team is 0-4 in the Valley, believes her team needs to focus on effectively running its offense.
"We’ve got some liability. Offense is hard for us," said Smith, whose team is shooting 33.7 percent overall and 26.8 percent from 3-point range. "We're not a scoring powerhouse so every possession matters."
Guard Katy Winge, who led ISU with 20 points in a Friday loss to Evansville, is the team's lone senior. That inexperience shows itself at inopportune times.
"We have to learn to have that snowball effect. When things are going well for us, we need to keep that going," Winge said. "When things aren’t going well for us we need to control our frustrations.
"People sometimes let situations get the best of them. My job is to kind of bring them back down and focus on what's happening right now."
A possible boost to the ISU offense could come from junior Kelli Tolar. The junior college transfer was recruited as a perimeter shooting threat but is just 6 of 30 on 3-point tries.
"She's hitting in practice. She just hasn't found her rhythm in a game yet," said Smith. "That's going to happen this year. She's making the adjustment still. Junior college is different than Division I. It's definitely a confidence thing. She's a scorer, for sure."
Indiana State is 12-4 overall and 2-3 in MVC play under first-year head coach Joey Wells.
The Sycamores are led in scoring (11.9) and rebounding (7.0) by 6-foot-1 senior Rachael Mahan.