Mizzou women hope to exploit good mix of veteran and freshman players

Yesterday I previewed the forwards and coaching staff for the 2013-2014 Missouri women’s basketball team, one that appears to be on the verge of a breakthrough year. Today we look at the guards, where there is a lot of returning talent.

Lianna Doty (1) dribbles down the court as Michelle Hudyn (12) follows in the February 2013 game against LSU. Both players are back for Missouri this year.

Lianna Doty (1) dribbles down the court as Michelle Hudyn (12) follows in the February 2013 game against LSU. Both players are back for Missouri this year.

1 Lianna Doty, sophomore, 5’7” – Part of the Southeastern Conference’s All Freshman team last season, Doty’s looked like a potential superstar almost from the moment she stepped on campus. After taking the job from another very talented young point (Kyley Simmons, now at Illinois) Doty showed herself capable of running the offense well and making some beautiful passes. Unfortunately, for a while some of the passes were as likely to surprise teammates as defenders, and Doty had some pretty ugly turnover numbers at times last year. But that’s improved considerably and Doty’s becoming a more complete player, stepping up her defense and showing a willingness and ability to both shoot from outside and drive to the basket to score or dish. She’s very tough to guard. You can’t be a great team without a great point, and Missouri should have one for the next three years with Doty.

2 Morgan Stock, sophomore, 6’1” – Part of the mix for the Tigers’ third guard slot, Stock made her case Sunday with a solid 15 point performance in 20 minutes against SIU-Edwardsville. It’d be easy to just add “gives Tigers depth at the position,” but it’s obvious she’s fighting to be more than just “depth” or “bench strength” and is capable of being a real part of what’s happening this year. Grabbed rebounds at a rate quicker than anyone else on the team during SEC play, seven boards in just 29 minutes.

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Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

3 Bree Fowler, junior, 5’9” – Here’s a perfect example of what can happen when a player with high hopes starts to fade a little from attention during the sophomore year. After playing in 29 games and earning six starts as a freshman, last year Fowler wasn’t as involved. She never started and her season’s high point was just seven points against Texas A&M. We’ve seen a lot of players who came in highly touted and faded a bit in their sophomore years just disappear, transfer, give up on the game, or just play out the string at the end of the bench wondering whatever happened to their brilliant “potential.” Fowler decided not to let that happen. Teammates rave about her offseason work, and she’s fought her way back into the starting lineup in both games so far this season. She played 20 minutes and scored seven against SLU before fading back a bit against SIUE, but with her strong play on defense and sharp passing along with a textbook perfect shooting release, we may see Fowler being a big part of what Missouri does this year.

10 Maddie Stock, sophomore, 6’0” – Like much of the Tiger team, Maddie Stock has started the season a little rusty from the field, shooting just 2-10. Don’t let that fool you, she’s an outstanding shooter and showed last year she can score in a hurry when she gets hot, scoring a high of 22 points in just 16 minutes against Southern Illinois last season. Can contribute in a lot of ways, as a fine defender and rebounder in addition to a scoring threat. Like her twin sister Morgan, Maddie Stock is a serious competitor and while they’ve not done it often, a lineup with both Stock sisters on the floor at the same time has been fun to watch, they obviously have been teammates for a long time.

11 Lindsey Cunningham, redshirt freshman, 6’0”  – After taking the redshirt last year I wasn’t real sure what to expect from Cunningham, but in her time on the court this year I’ve been very impressed. A major hustle player and fearless defender, she was a part of championship teams at Columbia’s Rock Bridge so she’s been well coached and knows what it takes to win.

22 Jordan Frericks, freshman, 6’1” – An Illinois All-Stater, bringing in Frericks was a sure sign of how things have changed at Missouri, this is the type of recruit the Tigers used to only dream of getting. And Frericks showed immediately why she was so highly touted coming out of Quincy, earning a starting nod in both games and contributing in every possible way. She leads the team in rebounding and is second in assists, has averaged 7.5 points a game, and plays with maturity beyond her years. She’s a big reason long-time watchers of MU women’s hoops are at a loss to remember a more talented recruiting class.

24 Sierra Michaelis, freshman, 5’10” – While Frericks and McDowell have become major parts of the Tigers game immediately, Michaelis may take a little longer. But it’ll be worth the wait. She comes in as the second-leading career scorer in girls’ basketball history in Missouri, but while she was a four-time All-State player, the jump from North Mercer High to the SEC is a major one, and she’ll need some time to adjust. She’s a dynamite shooter and will probably contribute first in that way. But like Michelle Hudyn, she’s a player who’ll be greatly improved with some time in the strength and conditioning program. She may not get the playing time of the other rookies on this team at first, but by the time this class is juniors and seniors she may be the best of the bunch.

30 Morgan Eye, junior, 5’9” – The comparisons with Michaelis are obvious. Eye came into Missouri three years ago out of tiny Montrose, Mo., (since I’m fond of stats, I’ll tell you that Mercer has 318 souls, population of Montrose is 384, so in this pairing Eye is the city slicker) and has grown by leaps and bounds in her game. Oh, sure, we’ve been hearing about her since her freshman year, and no wonder. As one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters, her name is already all over the Tiger record books and at some point this year she will probably pass Alyssa Hollins as Missouri’s all-time 3 point champion. If she scores as much as last year she’ll make the 1,000-point club before her junior season is finished. But that’s nowhere near enough for Eye. Rather than just be a great 3-point shooter, she’s worked like nobody else on this team to develop her entire game, and perhaps the box score from Sunday’s game vs. SIUE best demonstrates the results. Yes, she had an off day shooting—in fact, she didn’t score a single point. Often, especially with a great shooter, an off day like this affects a player’s whole game. Instead, Eye put all the more effort into the rest of her game, leading the team with nine rebounds. There’s a word I thought of for that, and when I asked coach Robin Pingeton after the game, she used the same word—character. Eye isn’t just a great 3-point shooter any longer. She’s a great player, a great teammate, and one more reason why this team has a real chance to be back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since ’05-’06. She’s improved in rebounding, passing and defense, but don’t let that (or the rare shutout vs. the Cougars on Sunday) worry you—she’s still deadly from distance.

Missouri’s next game is scheduled for Thursday against the Evansville Aces at 7 p.m. SEC play begins Jan. 2, 2014 at Ole Miss.

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