HOUGHTON - As the Michigan Tech women's basketball team proved against Wisconsin-Parkside (53 points), Malone (56 points) and Walsh (54 points), the Huskies are capable of playing stifling, dominant defense when all five defenders are on the same page.
And as a win over Concordia-St. Paul (80 points) and losses to Minnesota Duluth (82 points) and Findlay (73 points) demonstrated, the Huskies are also susceptible to hemorrhaging points at levels that make head coach Kim Cameron throw around words like "unacceptable" and "inexcusable" in post-game press conferences.
The victory Saturday over Hillsdale brought both teams - Tech's hardwood version of Jekyll and Hyde - to the court.
Michigan Tech’s Michelle Gaedke attacks the basket during Saturday’s game against Hillsdale at the SDC?Gym. The?Huskies are at Ohio Dominican tonight and Tiffin Saturday. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Cameron's search for the right buttons to push continues today at Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponent Ohio Dominican.
"That is a great question. Consistency in our entire game is what we are lacking right now," Cameron said. "It must be a priority for the full 40 minutes. We are capable of doing very good things and our emphasis has been the same each week of practice. Our principles have not changed. We have to find a way to keep them of the utmost importance for our team."
Cameron admitted one possible reason for the startling inconsistency could be youth.
Tech carries over just two starters from last season in seniors Sam Hoyt and Emma Veach, and juniors Taylor Stippel and Paige Albi combined in 2011-12 for just 14 minutes per game in GLIAC play.
Along with three freshmen earning rotational minutes and the inclusion of the previously little-used Kelcey Traynoff and Emily Harrison into significant game action, Tech's normally reliable defense is counting on many new faces.
"I look at it and wonder what is it? And I think that there is a lack of game time experience. It is not an excuse, but we have two seniors that have played a lot of minutes - and Emma is restricted (with a knee injury) - but you have two starters who didn't play a lot of minutes last year and third (Jillian Ritchie) is a sophomore," Cameron said. "It is something that builds as you get older and you take more ownership and pride in the minutes that you play."
Cameron believes that the younger or less experienced players need to develop a sense of urgency that keeps the swings in play from going to the extremes.
She pointed to Stippel, who shot 2-for-13 in Thursday's loss to Findlay but rebounded with a 6-for-6 performance against Hillsdale.
"Taylor is a good example," Cameron said. "Taylor for the first time felt ownership in that loss - not that it is solely her fault - but she went 2-for-13 and she needed to make an adjustment and she did on Saturday. She came in and said to us 'I have made a conscious decision to be better.' That is going to be the situation for those girls to fully realize it, but hopefully it won't take a loss each time."
Ohio Dominican should present an excellent opportunity for the defense to get back on track.
In a winless start to conference play, the Pioneers shoot just 35 percent while converting on 27.5 percent of threes. Along with 22 turnovers per game, Dominican has been a weak offensive team to start.
"We need to set the tone early," Cameron said. "Basically not what we did against Findlay."
Offensively, Cameron believes Tech will have an opportunity to score points inside with Stippel, Kylie Moxley and Harrison.
Of the top eight minute earners for the Panthers, only one player - freshman Melissa Scherpenberg - stands over 6-feet tall. Tiffin on Saturday has similar shortcomings.
"We will look for some actual post play this weekend," Cameron said. "We think we can be effective there. We have to be aggressive, but I think (Stippel, Moxley and Harrison) can be very effective inside for us."