It has been 22 years since the Indiana Tech women’s basketball program has been on the national stage, so you can forgive the Warrior players and coaches if they are enjoying the spectacle of participating in the NAIA Division II National Tournament over the next week.
Fourth-seed Indiana Tech (25-7) will face No. 5-seed Tabor (Kan.) (26-6) Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. (EST) in Sioux City, Iowa.
“They are great,” fifth-year Indiana Tech coach Jessie Biggs said of her players. “They are taking it all in, but they understand that we are out here for a reason. We’re out here to try and win some basketball games.”
The Warriors have certainly done that over the past two seasons, as they have gone 46-18. But this is the first time that the players and coaches have competed in the national tournament and there is a lot of hoopla that surrounds it, from the travel to the scheduled events, to the recognition that each team receives during the ceremonies put on by the NAIA.
“It is an experience that Indiana Tech women’s basketball, myself, and these girls haven’t experienced,” Biggs said, “so we’re really trying to embrace it.”
Indiana Tech will need to “embrace” its defensive play, according to Biggs.
Tabor ranks among the best shooting teams in the nation (it is 11th in overall field goal percentage and seventh from 3-point range), which is just one of many areas in which it is “solid” according to Biggs.
“They are really disciplined,” Biggs said of the Blue Jays. “They don’t really have a weakness. They are pretty good at everything.”
The matchup should be entertaining, because as good as Tabor is at shooting, Indiana Tech is better.
The Warriors rank fourth nationally in 3-pointers made and fifth in accuracy. However, Indiana Tech brings it at both ends, as well.
Biggs’ kids have limited the opposition to less than 30 percent from 3-point range this season and a meager 37 percent overall.
“I never think our defense is good enough,” Biggs laughed (I think). “It’s been good. It’s been OK.”
What Biggs wants to see mostly from her players Wednesday is being able to finish a play defensively, meaning, after Tabor’s initial offensive action, can the Warrior defenders stay disciplined and contain the Blue Jays for the entire possession.
“If we can defend and get a box out and a rebound,” Biggs said, “then that puts us in pretty good shape.”
Offensively, Indiana Tech will have the services of junior shooter Haley Cook, who suffered an arm sprain late in the season.
The Noblesville High grad has been practicing and Biggs said she will be ready to go Wednesday.
“She is doing good,” Biggs said of Cook. “You know Haley; (an injury) is not going to stop her from shooting it.”
The Warriors have been out in Sioux City for the past two days and are going to take part in a volunteer project today with a group of Special Olympians, followed by one last practice, so neither business nor pleasure will be sacrificed.
“You can enjoy life and get the job done,” Biggs said.