Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rob Knox's D2 Feature: Traub Helping USciences to a Landmark Season

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

Taking the lead from one of the best women’s basketball players in Division II, it’s easy to see why the University of the Sciences is enjoying a memorable season and a 12-game winning streak.

Even though she’s closing in on the all-time USciences’ women’s basketball school scoring record, all 5 foot, 8 inch senior forward Brianne Traub preferred to discuss during Wednesday afternoon’s fun phone interview was her improved defense, teammates and upcoming hospital rotation as part of her six-year Doctor of Pharmacy program.

“My freshman year, my defense was non-existent,” Traub said. “I knew it was something I had to work on. I continued to work on my defense every year because I know that’s what wins games for us. I can actually see the improvement and the work I put into my defense, which has made me happy.”

When playing lockdown defense, sharing the ball, having fun and bonding with her teammates are the critical components of your game, then it’s easy to understand Traub’s affable personality in which the selfless scoring queen puts others ahead of her.

The white-hot Devils (14-4 overall) have an opportunity to accomplish many more special milestones this season beginning with Saturday’s home conference game against Felician at 1:00 p.m. USciences (formerly nicknamed USP) is one of the best kept secrets in the Philadelphia area and worth your time.

If the Devils continue on their roll, they will tie the program record for the longest winning streak at 15 games on Feb. 7 against Concordia at home.

We haven’t even mentioned that Traub is also one of the most efficient, ruthless and relentless offensive forces in the country.

Even though she has two years remaining before having the doctor title in front of her name, she is already carving up the competition with surgical precision.

Currently, Traub leads the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) in scoring (21.5 ppg.) and ranks in the top 10 in the conference in nine different offensive categories.

She has scored in double figures every game this season with a low of 15 points. She has scored 20 or more points 13 times this season and has shot at least 50 percent from the field 11 times.

Traub has been the CACC Player of the Week or Defensive Player of the week in each of the last five conference reports (three player and two defensive).

During the 2014-15 season, Traub has earned Player of the Week recognition four times, tied for most in the conference.

“I have a great team too,” Traub said. “They are a big help and it’s not like we’re dependent upon one person to do all the scoring.

"We continue to take one game at a time and that’s all that really matters for us." Traub added.

"As a team, we focus on our defense because we know that’s what matters for us. This has been a great year for us on and off the court. We get along really well and been playing together for years.”

USciences moved up three places to seventh, recording their highest ranking of the season in this week's D2SIDA East Region Women's Basketball Poll.

Of course, like every good story, the Devils faced some early adversity after stumbling to a 2-4 record at the start of the season following a 79-61 loss to Goldey Beacom on Dec. 9.

Things didn’t look great for the Devils as their next contest was a game against fifth-ranked University of Tampa. However, the players remained together, practiced harder and continued encouraging each other.

The Devils surprised Tampa, 66-65, following Jessica Sylvester's four-point play with 2.6 remaining in regulation, which capped off a 13-3 run over the final 2:41 of the game. Following that game, USciences believed that it could conquer any team on its schedule.

“I would be lying if I expected us to be 14-4 after being 2-4,” second year USciences coach Jackie Hartzell said. “When you’re 2-4 it’s a little humbling. I give credit to our players to our players who came to practice, worked hard and tried to get better.

"The win over Tampa got us going and gave us confidence. We’ve been playing as a team on both ends of the floor. We have also stepped up our defense.”

We’ll return to Traub in a few as she is the offensive centerpiece of a solid and versatile Devil squad.

Sylvester is the only other player averaging double figures for the Sciences. She chips in 11.9 points per game. Sarah Abbonizio (8.8 ppg.), Laura Trisch (6.9), Colleen Walsh (6.8) and Bella Ross (4.7) have all made meaningful contributions during the Devils winning streak.

Kaitlyn Schmid is the engine that powers the Devils machine. She moved into tenth place on the Devils all-time assist list with 279 for her career. Schmid leads the CACC and is ranked second nationally in assist/turnover margin (4.10).

In the most recent NCAA statistics rankings report through games of Monday, the Devils are ranked second in the nation in three-point field goals made per game (10.0), seventh in assist/turnover ratio (1.29), 18th in assists/game (16.9) and 11th in fewest turnovers committed (13.2). USciences leads the CACC in all these categories.

The Devils are 12-0 when holding opponents to 65 points or less. On the season, teams are having a devil of a time scoring, as USP is allowing 60.9 points per game.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Ross said of the winning streak. “We are always trying to get better as individuals and as a team. We all found roles that we can learn from and that are comfortable for us. I think that I can be serious and provide energy. I also bring comic relief and lot of entertainment. That helps a lot. I always give as much as I can for the team.”

For the record, Ross said that she can give comedian Kevin Hart a run for his money in stand-up.

While that may be debated, there’s no denying Ross’ impact to the Devils. A warrior on the court who battles for every rebound, Ross had an eight game stretch during the current win streak with eight or more rebounds, including four straight with 10 or more.

Ross produced a double-double in the Devils’ 34-point win over Philadelphia University earlier this month (11 points, 14 rebounds).

The Devils also swept the regular season meetings against Holy Family for the first time in program history. Traub averaged 19.5 points in the two wins over the Tigers. However, while she was happy with both wins, Traub was probably excited that USP held Holy Family to 34 points in the second meeting on Jan. 13.

Traub’s game is so quiet that it doesn’t seem like she stuffs the stat sheet the way she does.

“She just flat out scores,” Hartzell said. “Sometimes her points are quiet. She scores so much, you take it for granted and then at the end of the game, you look at the boxscore and she’s at 25 points.

"This year she took her game to another level. She’s a more complete player. She really rebounds the ball well and her defense has improved a lot. She makes her teammates better and is a lot of fun to coach. She wants to win; she really wants to win and that trickles down to our team. She’s a big reason why we are playing well right now.”

Last week in three victories, Traub moved into second place on the Devils all-time list for field goals made (686) and free throws made (421). She remains third on the Devils all-time scoring list with 1,900 points.

Traub needs 25 points to pass Leah Shumoski for second place and 40 to pass Shelby Rance and become the program’s all-time leader. Traub also is seventh all-time in rebounding (774) and 10th in steals (168).

“Becoming the all-time leading scorer would be a great accomplishment,” Traub said. “Overall, that’s not my goal for the season. We have a lot more that we want to do and that’s the most important thing right now. We have worked hard to get into this position. Now we just have to keep building off of that.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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