CSUB_WBB-3

CSUB has tweaked its defense this season to get back to the success of 2017-18.

Despite Cal State Bakersfield women’s basketball’s recent rough stretch of results, head coach Greg McCall isn’t worried about any pressing “issues.” There are just “some small concerns” that have led to the Roadrunners losing eight of their last nine games (10 of their last 11 Division I games), he said.

And he thinks he has them figured out.

“We’re in there working on it right now,” McCall said. “You can see a huge difference. I think you guys will see a huge difference. The biggest thing was our defense.”

McCall’s and CSUB’s (5-10, 1-1 Western Athletic) chance to back up those words will be the team’s Western Athletic Conference home opener against Texas-Rio Grande Valley (7-7, 1-0) in the Icardo Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The Roadrunners will then host New Mexico State (9-5, 1-0) for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday.

CSUB allowed just 56.5 points per game last season and held opponents to 36.9 percent from the field — 23rd and 33rd in the nation, respectively, and best in the WAC. But this season, the Roadrunners have given up 64.7 points per game and let opponents shoot 38.3 percent — 187th and 191st in the country, respectively.

And in the last eight losses, CSUB allowed 71.4 points. The lone win from the last nine games was the Roadrunners’ WAC opener against a winless Seattle team. Seattle did beat CSUB in the WAC Tournament title game last season, though.

“Why are we losing certain games in close margins where we have opportunities to win?” McCall said the coaches asked themselves. “We kind of looked back at what we’re doing wrong to lose that game. Where are we making our mistakes?”

CSUB still has its two top defenders from last season in JJ Johnson and Dalis Jones. What McCall determined was that the Roadrunners had switched their philosophy to letting opponents run through their plays, waiting until the end to try to make a stop. At the end of games, teams would modify their plays.

Now the team will go back to trying to keep the ball on one side of the court and disrupt plays before they can even begin. McCall has an 80-20 rule. If CSUB can do the right thing 80 percent of the time, it’ll win a lot of games, he said. Last season, the Roadrunners were doing that on defense. This season, they’re not.

“Now we’re making the one tweak on defense,” McCall said. “Now you’ll see us coming out with those wins and those stops that we need that’s necessary. … We’re gonna be OK.”

Jon Mettus can be reached at 661-395-7389. Follow him on Twitter: @jmettus.

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