Monday, November 15, 2004
The good, bad ... and even better (Texas)
By Mechelle Voepel
Special to ESPN.com
Baylor fans are in a little bit of limbo now. They're thrilled that their team continues to show that it can play with the very best in the country. But frustrated that at the end of some close big games, Baylor doesn't seem to execute well enough to win.
That's part of the growing pains of any program that's seeking to compete at the level Baylor is. Sunday's 71-70 loss to LSU was indicative of the best and worst of Baylor: a slow start, a spirited comeback and a final sequence that didn't work out.
Still, this is the season opener, and it was against a great team in LSU, which showed some of its best and worst, too. LSU was playing in its third game, having opened with two victories at home.
Seimone Augustus looked in great shape offensively, and Baylor came out pretty flat. LSU led by 20 with a little more than 16 minutes left, and it might have seemed completely over to many viewers.
Those who've followed Baylor, though, probably figured there was a comeback on the way ... but would it be enough? It almost was.
Baylor's Steffanie Blackmon put on an especially good performance, especially considering how limited her practice in the preseason has been.
Texas' balanced offense comes through again
Texas has had a great deal of success the last two seasons with diversity in scoring. As you saw Sunday in the Longhorns' 84-69 victory over Penn State, that's once again the case.
Texas can beat teams in so many ways -- even when the Horns aren't shooting 63 percent from the field, as they did Sunday. As Texas gets even more comfortable running its offense as the season goes on, it becomes an even tougher team to guard -- which is frightening to the opposition.
And the Longhorns are playing such a tough schedule early that their learning curve is all the more accelerated -- well before they get to Big 12 play.
Penn State actually had a very respectable performance. As expected, Tanisha Wright and Jess Strom carried the team, and it's going to be that way as other players settle into their new roles.
Penn State has time to develop, and it's certainly not the only Big Ten team that is looking at new mixes of players and different chemistry this season. This was a good learning game, even though Penn State was left very frustrated with its defense. Fact is, Texas is going to make a lot of teams feel that way this season.
Mechelle Voepel is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.