BLOOMINGTON – Most basketball coaches will stress making sure their player has a good look toward the basket before even thinking about taking a shot. IWU women’s basketball coach Mia Smith. That philosophy has been altered slightly by Smith as her team’s season starts. “The first open look, if it’s a good look for that player, is what we want to take,” said Smith, who is entering her 22nd season as head coach of the Fightin’ Titans.

“If we can pass it down on the parameter, find a wing open, find it to our shooter’s hands, we’re going to fire that ball right up there,” Smith said. On defense, Smith said, “This team will have to live by their defensive game,” Smith said, adding she believes this team defends better when there is only a half court at stake rather than a full court against opponents. “Our players are probably going to log harder and longer minutes against opponents than we’ve done in the past,” Smith said. “In order to do that, we’ve got to be in great game shape, getting up and down the floor and play inline to inline. You’ll see our run and jump for sure this year.”

Smith said she believes Sydney Shanks “has been pressing in some form or style her entire athletic career,” in mentioning how the 5 foot-9 Bloomington Central Catholic product has handled how she has played the game. “The more aggressive she becomes, the more confident and aggressive the rest of our team becomes.”

Of Kendall Sosa, the 5-9 guard who graduated from Normal Community High School, Smith said, “I love that kid. I don’t just love the basketball player, I love the person. She’s an incredible young woman. I think our players are going to follow, and our team will kind of go as Kendall does.”

“We’ve got great shooters, great parameter shooters, and we’re going to shoot more threes,” Smith admitted. She added if her team doesn’t find itself in the top ten in three-point field goal percentage and three point percentage made, she would be really disappointed. “We know that’s where we need to go,” she said.

Sosa said, for her, it took a little while to understand and learn the role Smith wants to her to take on, and is quick to add, “It’s nice to have that kind of confidence from your coach.

Of Shanks and Sosa, their coach said, “They’re just quality. I don’t know what else you can say. They’re just such great kids. Sydney is so respected over in the Nursing Department, where she is majoring.” Of Sosa, her coach added, “Kendall is just an outstanding citizen. She’s kind, she’s empathic. She’s just an outstanding young woman.”

Circle Your Calendars: IWU started the season Nov. 1 dropping an 86-82 road game at Eastern Illinois. Another non-conference road game is on tap Nov. 12 for IWU at University of Chicago. They then travel to the St. Norbert Tip-Off Tournament in Depere, Wis. Nov. 9 where they will also be joined by University of Wisconsin-Stout, Calvin College, and the host school. They then travel to St. Louis for the Midwest Challenge Tournament before CCIW action begins in earnest. IWU’s first road Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin league game will be at North Central College Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7p.m. The first CCIW foe to visit Shirk Center will be Carthage College Saturday, Dec. 7 at 5p.m.

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