Women’s basketball season opener

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The BYU women’s basketball season opens against in-state rival Weber State Wildcats on Friday afternoon.

Weber State is a Division I school that brings the heat similar to what the Cougars experienced just last week.

“Weber will play very much like Dixie State,” BYU women’s basketball coach Jeff Judkins said. “They have a lot of quickness with their guards, and they have some bigs that are very physical in the posts. They’ve changed their defense just like Dixie State did to a zone and a man, so they’re very similar.”

The Cougar’s strategy is to get the ball inside to their posts, in hopes of obtaining better ball movement and scoring more points.

“I think we’re going to focus on pounding it in a lot,” senior guard Haley Steed said. “We’ll call a lot of offensive sets to get the ball inside. Then at that point I don’t know what Weber State’s game plan is, but I would expect some double teams at the post, which opens a lot of things up for the guards as well. But we will definitely be pounding the ball inside a lot.”

Getting the ball inside means more involvement in the post from Keilani Unga, Morgan Bailey, Micaelee Orton and Jennifer Hamson.

“Of course we’re excited,” senior forward Keilani Unga said. “Me, Bailey, Orton, Hamson, we’re all pretty excited because we all love getting the ball. Not just to score baskets, I think it’s better ball movement too. We learned that against Dixie State. We didn’t really get the ball in enough, you could just tell from watching that game that we didn’t have much ball movement. I like it when it goes inside because you can either score or kick it out.”

Another focus for this game, and for all games to be successful, is defense. Judkins has placed a large focus on defense and becoming a strong defensive team.

“We work on defense every day for a long time,” Steed said. “Press, man, zone, (Judkins) likes to mix it up a lot in practice so that we can get a good feel for everything. We also have a team of guys come to practice against us. We try to adopt whatever that team does and get used to the style of new games. Also, playing against guys is obviously good for us.”

One of the unique opportunities for the women this week is having the men play their season opener just a few hours after they do.

“Obviously the men have a lot bigger following than us,” Steed said. “So I’m excited that we get to kind of piggy-back off that and get more fans in the stadium to watch us play. We’re confident that a lot of those people will probably like what they see and learn to appreciate women’s basketball a little bit more.”

The women’s basketball team plays a solid game, and Judkins is confident when the crowd sees the team’s athleticism it will want to come back for more.

The Cougars and Wildcats tip off at 3 p.m. on Friday in the Marriott Center.

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