Trojans boast vastly-improved defensive numbers in best start of Rigby era

Published 3:36 am Thursday, January 8, 2015

It’s not how Chandra Rigby would have envisioned it, but in the end, a win is a win.

Actually, seven wins.

At 7-5 overall and 2-1 in the Sun Belt Conference, Troy women’s basketball is off to its best start under Rigby since she arrived in 2011.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Seven victories by early January is a welcomed sight to Rigby and the Trojans, but it’s how they arrived at those wins that comes as a surprise to the team.

Under Rigby, the Trojans are known for their up-tempo, high-scoring offense. Last season, they averaged 80.4 points per game, the best in the Sun Belt and 15th in the NCAA. Troy became just the second Sun Belt team since 2000 to average over 80 points per game.

But last year, much of that production was in vain, as Troy finished 12-18 overall and 8-10 in the Sun Belt.

Though the Trojans could score with just about anyone, it was their defense that came back to bite them throughout the season.

The Trojans gave up a boatload of points, including allowing opponents to score at least 100 points twice.

In November, that anemic defense was Rigby’s biggest worry going into 2014-2015.

“In changing the culture, my thing was just push, push, push for offense,” Rigby said “Now, we understand…for example the Alabama game, we really can score 105 points and still let somebody score 106 and still lose the game. We have definitely focused on defense this year.”

So far, the fruits of the team’s labor have been evident.

The Trojans are allowing 70 points per game up to this point in the season, far below their average from last year.

And in games where the Troy offense has been cold, they have leaned on their defense, certainly a new feather in the Trojans’ hat.

In their game Monday against UT-Arlington, Troy flexed its defensive muscles, allowing the Lady Mavericks just 32 percent shooting from the field, and held off several second-half runs en route to a 70-63 victory.

In that game, Kristen Emerson had her very own defensive coming out party, swatting six UT-Arlington shots, the most since Troy joined the Sun Belt. And along with role player Caitlyn Ramirez, the two Trojans held the Lady Maverick’s leading scorer, Rebekah Van Dijk to just seven points on 2-of-6 shooting.

At this point in the season, the Trojans are racking up wins on their defensive merits and not just resting on their offensive laurels.

The Trojans’ defensive improvement is evident.

And after the game Monday, Emerson may have said it best. Troy doesn’t need to talk up their defense. The results speak for themselves.

“I just didn’t want the other team to score,” she said bluntly.