Southern women attack defensively

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRESouthern's Kenidi Robinson puts up a shot over Alabama State's Tabitha Bradshaw.
Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRESouthern's Kenidi Robinson puts up a shot over Alabama State's Tabitha Bradshaw.

The Southern women’s basketball team is looking to be more aggressive defensively.

Coach Sandy Pugh has chosen to go smaller and more athletic the last two games by starting 5-foot-11 Kenidi Robinson instead of 6-3 Yasmine Nelson.

“From looking at the tape and everything that we were seeing, we felt that we could do a better job defensively,” Pugh said. “I wanted the versatility of being able to be more aggressive defensively in terms of the different schemes we were running.

“We also wanted (Robinson) to start the game and get into a rhythm. We felt that coming off the bench she was getting into foul trouble a lot, so we thought that maybe it would be better for us to bring (Nelson) off the bench as opposed to Kenidi.”

Conversely, the change yields a little less athleticism but more height coming off the bench.

The results have been mixed. Robinson got into almost immediate foul trouble in her first start at Grambling last Saturday and played just 10 minutes, finishing with no points and one rebound in a 74-72 victory.

But two nights later at Jackson State, she played 25 minutes before fouling out and contributed seven points and four rebounds in a 70-55 victory in which the Jaguars defense was much improved.

Pugh said she plans to stick with her new lineup when the Jaguars (13-6 and 10-1 in Southwestern Athletic Conference play) host Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 3 p.m. Saturday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

“We want to be able to do more things in the open court and put more pressure on full-court,” Pugh said. “You’re going to see a little more full-court pressure.

“Kenidi can cover more territory and she’s the toughest kid on our team. The kids have more confidence in themselves defensively when she’s in the game because they know they can get beat anywhere, and Kenidi will be there, and if a ball comes off the backboard, she’s going to fight for it.”

Fellow post player Jasmine Jefferson has played better in the two games since Robinson entered the starting lineup. After averaging just four points, four rebounds and 17.7 minutes because of foul trouble over a three-game stretch, Jefferson was on the court for 29 minutes against Grambling and had 10 points and nine rebounds before fouling out.

She had 13 points and 12 rebounds in 33 minutes against Jackson State.

“I’m improving on my foul trouble, and I’m staying aggressive,” Jefferson said, “so I think my offensive game is being helped out by me not being in foul trouble.

“We’re an aggressive team. We’ve just got to figure out how to stay out of foul trouble.”

Pugh said Jefferson is finally healthy after battling a sprained ankle for much of the season.

“She’s doing well,” Pugh said. “Jas doesn’t know her capability. She had a double-double against Jackson State, and she’s capable of giving us 15 points, 10 rebounds and three or four steals every night.”

The Jaguars defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 84-70 on the road Jan. 18.