KENOSHA, Wis. — Like someone suffering from a cold, Mia Smith has friends offering home remedies to cure the coach’s struggling Illinois Wesleyan women’s basketball team.
“I think people in general want to see us succeed,” Smith said on the eve of her team’s 5 p.m. visit Saturday to face Carthage, another struggling squad.
“So I’m hearing some different ideas. A lot of people are correct, but the situation is no matter what we do, we have to be able to execute it and there are times when we are not executing.”
On Wednesday, No. 16 Wheaton got dominating second-half execution while dumping IWU, 72-46. That dropped the Titans to 8-11 overall and 2-6 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. Four straight losses have lowered Carthage to 11-8 and 4-4.
Although Smith’s philosophy produced a national title, she has made adjustments for a team that lost two starters — Emily Beoletto and Gabrielle Holness — for the season to injuries.
“I hope that I always do what is best for the players and the team that I have on the floor,” Smith said. “So if we aren’t effective in our run-and-jump (press), I hope I’m smart enough to take it off.
“My philosophy has always been: play better defense and points will come off of your defense. But lately we’ve been giving up big numbers in the second half and that’s what’s helped us lose.”
IWU has outscored foes in the first half, 643-610, but lost the second half, 694-625.
“We’re just not fully confident in holding leads,” Smith said. “We’re not fully confident in who should take the shot. We’re not fully confident in our defense just because we are so young.”
Smith hopes her defense can rattle Carthage point guard Erin Thomas, who had 10 turnovers in the Lady Reds’ 69-62 win at IWU on Jan. 10.
Carthage is led by Alexis Hahn (14.1 ppg) and Taylor Boardman (11.2). Wesleyan counters with Kasey Reaber (12.0) and Molly McGraw (11.5).