Women’s Basketball: A profit from Gainesville’s loss

Jonah L. Rosenblum

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Before sophomore guard Tailor Jones arrived at Northwestern, she played for head coach Amanda Butler at Florida, where she played less and felt out of her comfort zone.

“I wanted to be coached by a male because I had been coached by a male coach my entire life,” Jones said. “I didn’t enjoy my freshman year and wanted to get out and experience something new.”

Jones said the pace of the Gators’ offense was slower than what she was used to and appreciates being able to put her speed to work.

“She’s really athletic,” coach Joe McKeown said. “She can play any position on the basketball court. That’s what makes her such a valuable asset to have on the team.”

After sitting out a year due to NCAA rules regarding transfers, Jones is ramping up the Wildcats’ offense.

“She’s definitely sped up our offense a lot,” senior center Amy Jaeschke said. “We never really transitioned that much before and, having her on the floor, she’s able to get passes though that I don’t think I’ve seen any college player be able to do.”

Pushing the ball has its consequences. Jones leads the team in turnovers with 63. She also ranks second on the team in personal fouls, but that may simply be a product of inexperience. She appeared in only 12 games for Florida.

“I’m still a freshman in a way,” Jones said. “At Florida I didn’t get to play as much. I wasn’t used to the type of ball they play at the college level.”

But even as she learns, she contributes. After scoring just six points in an entire season at Florida, she’s already scored 55 for NU. She is also averaging more than four rebounds a game and leads the team with 74 assists. She has earned herself a starting role.

Jones might be able to help NU break a two-game slide against Michigan on Thursday night.

Last season the Cats squared off against the Wolverines four times, and although they won the first two matchups, they lost the ones that counted most. The Wolverines struck back in the post season, knocking the Cats out of the Big Ten Tournament and the WNIT.

“The fact that they knocked us out of the Big Ten Tournament and the WNIT is a little more personal,” Jaeschke said. “This game will be a lot more fun, kind of recreate the last game that ended our season.”

McKeown said his team isn’t looking back, however, and said it’s a new year.

“You’re really more concerned about where are you right now and where you’re going this year, rather than last year,” McKeown said. “You go forward because you don’t have time to look back.”

In order to move forward, NU (14-5, Big Ten 3-3) will need to put up a better performance on the glass, after getting out-rebounded 45-31 in West Lafayette, Ind., on Sunday. Of particular concern to McKeown is the 19 offensive rebounds his team gave up to Purdue.

“We let up too many offensive rebounds,” McKeown said. “We know we have to clean that up because you can’t give good teams two shots at the basket.”

To make things harder, the Cats may have to hit the glass without the help of their second-best rebounder. Junior forward Brittany Orban injured her knee against the Boilermakers, and though she has been practicing, she remains a game-time decision, according to the team’s spokeswoman.

Fortunately for NU, the opposition has struggled rebounding the ball all season. Michigan (10-7, 3-2)averages just 31.2 rebounds per game, worst in the Big Ten, giving up eight more rebounds per game than it gets.