Preview: UNM vs Texas State

Joe Auletta

UNM Texas State
2017-18 record 25-11 23-10
Result 3rd round, WNIT 1st round, WNIT
Scoring 80.4 ppg 70.4 ppg
Defense 70.7 ppg 58.2 ppg
Scoring Margin +9.7 +12.2
Rebounding Margin -1.1 -2.4
TO Margine +4.2 +2.4
Foul Margine +2.7 +.2
# of 3 pt shots per game 25 26
3 pt shooting % 34.2% 35.6%
Returning players 6 7
Returning starters 1 2
# players > 10 min/gm 9 7

Let’s see if this sounds familiar: the team wins 20+ games and makes it into the WNIT, led by a senior point guard who did everything: score, rebound, and lead the team in assists & steals. They are a bit undersized, starting one post player and four guards. They make up for a rebounding deficit by keeping their turnovers low, fouling less than their opponent, hitting their free throws (74% as a team), and playing fast (60+ shots per game) with 25+ three-point attempts per game. No, not the Lobos, but their first round preseason WNIT opponent, Texas State.
But the similarity does not end their—they have a similar large turnover in players to what UNM has, and they have made a concerted effort to get bigger. Gone are 50% of the points, 60% of the rebounds, and 70% of the assists. They add three players 6’ and above, two freshmen and a transfer; along with two little used bench players that gives the Bobcats five options at the post. Friday’s game will be their first one of the season so it is unknown whether they will potentially play two posts to try and counter the Lobos’ pair of Jaisa and Nike. And last season they both played Rice in the postseason WNIT, Texas St losing 71-60, and UNM winning 93-73.
Offensively the Bobcats averaged 70+ ppg–not as much as UNM—but they were also better on the defensive end, giving up less than 60 per game. Not seeing them play, I assume they applied some form of pressure defense as they averaged almost 9 steals a game. Offensively there seems to have been good ball movement as they recorded assists on over 60% of their field goals.
Individually, players to watch include #2, 5’4” senior guard Toshua Leavitt who led the team with 34 minutes per game and 17.6 ppg on 43.4% shooting, the vast majority from three-point range (five other players shot over 40%, but for the rest it was mostly 2-point field goal shots). She is also the leading playmaker among the returnees and second in returning rebounds. I would guess Aisia will get the primary defensive assignment on her, and how that goes will be vital to the game outcome.
The other returning starter is #24, junior Brooke Holle who averaged 33 min/game and collected 5.7 rebounds per game though she is 5’7”. She shot 5 three point attempts per game—the only other volume shooter from distance—but that was half of Leavitt’s number, and she was less efficient—but still decent–at 36%.
Brooke’s (twin?) sister Bailey is the most experienced returning bench player, and may well move into the starting lineup. The bench was not used much last season as four of the five starters averaged 30+ minutes per game. Other than the two starters, no returning player averaged as much as 3 points per game or three shots per game—scouting their team for offensive trends after Leavitt will be difficult.