McDaniel Shoots 1,000

Josh Horton, Reporter

When chasing the 1,000-point milestone in basketball, the first 999 points are the easy ones.

Senior shooting guard Tyann McDaniel finally knocked the milestone off  her “to do” list Jan. 12 in a 66-59 to Freedom Conference foe, FDU-Florham.

For McDaniel, 1,000 points was something she put on her list of goals upon arrival at MU.

“It’s definitely a relief that I can finally get it out of the way,” McDaniel said. “It’s something I wasn’t able to accomplish in high school, so it was one of my goals coming into college. It was fun to finally have my hard work pay off.”

The road to 1,000 was far from the norm. Former head coach Tom Griffith led McDaniel during her first two-and-a-half seasons, and when he resigned, Athletic Director Dave Martin took over for the final half of the 2011-2012 season. Then MU brought in current head coach Allison Kern.

With three different coaches comes three different systems.

“It’s kind of funny, because in high school I had three different coaches,” McDaniel said. “It might just be something I have gotten used to. It was hard to get used to in the beginning, not just me but with the rest of the team.”

McDaniel’s current role in the offense is much different from that during past seasons. Kern moved McDaniel to shooting guard, as opposed to the point guard position she has played throughout her entire basketball career.

The switch to shooting guard was something she had to get used to but also something that seems to be paying off for her and the team.

“I have been a point guard my whole life. Coach Kern said she was going to play me more off the ball this year and it really complimented my game since I am a three-point shooter,” McDaniel said. “It also has complimented Lauren [Smicherko’s] game with her being more of a driver.”

Coach Kern feels the switch maximizes the team’s offensive potential. With McDaniel now on the wing, the Cougars have a whole new list of possibilities for offensive schemes.

“It really helps with the match-ups we are trying to create, because she does have a good two-dribble pull up jumper,” Kern said. “It opens up so much for our team and allows other people to get open and drive when they’re out defending the perimeter. When she feels good she is getting, five, six, seven assists a game and that really helps our team.”

For as much as the move has helped offensively, Kern feels it does just as much for the team defensively. The Cougars’ success comes during fast-paced games, and one way of creating them is with a suffocating defense and forced turnovers. The more turnovers the Cougars muster, the easier it is to get out and run on offense.

“Our team builds off of momentum and we work so hard on defense. That’s one of coach Kern’s big things is working hard on defense and really getting in peoples faces to make sure they’re working hard,” McDaniel said. “It definitely converts over to successful offensive possessions. We are run and gun on offense, so we may as well be like that on defense.”

Coach Kern feels McDaniel’s transition to shooting guard is getting better with each game. With her new role in the offense, McDaniel doesn’t necessarily have to take the most shots  anymore; she just has to take the good ones.

“I think she is finally getting to a place where she isn’t pressing. We don’t need her to take 20 shots a game like we used to. She is finally getting to a point in where she can kind of let the game come to her and when she does that she really facilitates the success our team has,” Kern said. “When she tries to shoot too much too soon, she struggles. When she lets the game come to her she catches fire.”

There have been countless times this season when the fire is ignited by a Smicherko pass. McDaniel feels the new system brings out the best in both her and Smicherko. One of the reasons  is Smicherko likes to drive to the basket while McDaniel likes to take the long-range jumper.

“It opens everything up,” McDaniel said with enthusiasm. “I don’t think it would work as well if we were both outside shooters, but we compliment each other as in she can drive to the basket and kick out to me for the open three.”

McDaniel says the whole team has bought into coach Kern’s system and players feel they are going to be a tough team to beat in the Freedom Conference.

“We have a lot to offer on the court and once we catch fire we are going to be dangerous,” McDaniel said. “Hopefully we can go on and win another MAC Championship.

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