After the Southern women lost at Grambling 65-52 a week ago, coach Sandy Pugh chose not to show the tape of the game to the players at practice the next day.
She and her staff practically ignored the offense during the workout, instead focusing on, as Pugh said, “Defense, defense, defense, defense.”
Pugh was disappointed in how the team had played against Grambling, but she and her staff looked inward as well as outward.
“It’s easy as a coach to blame the kids and go back and say the kids didn’t do this and the kids didn’t do that, but I looked at us,” Pugh said. “What are we doing as a staff? What are we teaching as a staff?
“We had gotten away from the foundations of what we do. So we went back to the basics of what we’re doing, and that’s where we are — keep them motivated, keep them energized and work on defense. That’s what’s wins championships, and that’s what we’re about right now.”
On Monday night, the Jaguars responded with a 66-57 victory at Jackson State, and they plan to maintain that renewed emphasis on defense when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 3 p.m. Saturday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Southern is 8-3 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and 11-10 overall. The Lady Golden Lions are 4-7 and 7-15. They are 0-12 in road games.
“We’re not anywhere near where we’re capable of playing defense,” Pugh said, “but I was happy to see them bounce back, play with energy.”
Southern jumped to an 11-point lead in the second quarter before seeing the Lady Tigers bounce back and grab a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter. The Jaguars outscored JSU 21-10 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Forward Briana Green said the focus in that practice laid the groundwork for the bounce-back performance.
“Whatever we do in practice is what we do in games,” said Green, who suffered a knee injury in the second quarter but returned in the third quarter to score 13 of her 15 points after the injury.
“That was the Briana I witnessed last year,” senior guard Ashley Williams said. “I’ve been waiting for her to have another game like that.”
Green, who’s probable for Saturday’s game, said the seniors, especially post Kenidi Robinson and Britney Washington, have been pushing her in practice and in games to make a game like the one Monday night her norm.
“I give a lot of credit to my seniors,” Green said. “They gave me confidence in practice. They told me from now on they’re going to be on me all the time. They’re not going to let up on me so I come ready to play every time. They’ve pushed me in practice and games.”
Southern beat UAPB 78-61 on Jan. 16.
Though Pugh felt a need to “recommit to our defensive effort,” the Jaguars rank second in the SWAC in scoring defense (55.7 points per game).