A film study session last week enabled Pacific Union College women’s basketball coach George Glover to take a close look at the team’s offense and give a lot of feedback to the players, three of whom are freshmen.
Glover has the Pioneers running a motion offense. They are averaging 53.6 points per game.
“We were able to show everybody on film the offense that we’re running, where they can improve on what they are doing,” said Glover. “Here is what the defense is taking from you. Here is what is available to us. Afterwards, it was like, ‘OK, now I see it. OK, we did it now.’
“Now we can start building on that and preparing for league next.”
It’s an important time in the season for Pacific Union (1-5 overall), a small NAIA school in Angwin, which doesn’t play again until Dec. 18 when it opens the California Pacific Conference season at Simpson University of Redding.
In their first game since the Thanksgiving break, the Pioneers had three players score in double figures in a 79-53 nonconference loss to William Jessup University (Rocklin) in Angwin last week.
The Pioneers were led by Imari Clinton (12 points, eight rebounds, four steals, three assists, two blocks), Molly Hargon (12 points, four rebounds, two steals), Dominique Gordon (10 points, six rebounds), Kylie Beal (nine points, two rebounds, two steals), Karla McCommas (four points, three steals, three rebounds), Faith Williams (four points, three rebounds), Bailey Hunter (six rebounds, three assists), Makana Kaaikala-Caban (three rebounds), and Gabriela Lua (two rebounds).
“The girls have made tremendous progress over the six games we’ve played to this point,” said Glover. “With them being so young, we can just break down everything film by film, and help them to understand the game more.
“This is a real valuable time right now, because we can really help them progress in their basketball ability.”
Pacific Union got its first win of the season during a three-game road trip to Oregon last month. The Pioneers beat Multnomah University, 62-59, in Portland.
“A lot of turnovers hurt us during that time, but we were very competitive,” said Glover. “I really saw the progress of them really coming together as a unit, not only the starters playing but the reserves coming in off the bench. They were able to come in and perform.
“They’re really hard workers. It’s a relatively young team. These girls really have a passion for basketball. Defensively, we have improved a lot.”
Pacific Union, which returns Clinton off a team that was 2-20 overall and 2-12 in the CalPac last year, was picked to finish eighth in the eight-team conference in a preseason poll taken from a vote of the coaches in October.
UC Merced, which has played in the NAIA National Tournament the past four seasons, was picked to win the title. The Bobcats are followed by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, (Prescott, Arizona), Simpson, Benedictine University-Mesa (Mesa, Arizona), University of Antelope Valley (Lancaster, California), La Sierra University (Riverside, California), Cal Maritime Academy (Vallejo), and PUC.
“It’s going to be really competitive in the conference this year,” said Glover. “We have some elite teams in our league.”
Clinton, a sophomore point guard, was named second-team All-Cal Pac after averaging 11.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game last year. Clinton has taken on a leadership role this year.
“I’m really excited to have her back,” said Glover. “She understands what we’re trying to do, really helping the players come along in their growth process. She’s an excellent player. She has a passion for the game. She’s taking on a lot of responsibility with the team.”
Clinton went to Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Washington.
There are eight other players on the team, including Makana Kaaikala-Caban, a forward and the only senior, who is from Lahaina, Hawaii.
“She has a great knowledge of the game,” said Glover. “She is a great teammate. She just brings a world of knowledge to the girls.”
The team’s freshmen are Bailey Hunter, a guard out of Analy-Sebastopol; Molly Hargon, a guard out of El Dorado-Shingle Springs; and Kylie Beal, a guard out of Pacifica-Garden Grove, California.
“As we’re growing, the freshmen grow in their knowledge and understanding of the game,” said Glover. “They all have a unique talent. For them, it’s just gaining experience for playing at this level. We’re going to be relying on those three freshmen. It’s what we’re building on for the future – they’re a part of that.”
Karla McCommas, a junior forward from Lincoln, is a transfer from Sierra College-Rocklin.
Dominique Gordon, a junior forward from Antioch, is a transfer from American River College-Sacramento.
“Both of those young ladies have great talent,” said Glover. “They’re a big part of what we’re trying to do and where we are as a team. We’re looking for them to step up even more.”
Gabriela Lua is a sophomore guard from Sacramento who is from Rio Lindo Adventist-Healdsburg and Faith Williams is a sophomore forward who is out of Santa Clara High-Oxnard.
Developing consistency for each quarter of a game is key for the Pioneers, said Glover.
“We have two good quarters, two bad quarters,” said Glover. “We have to put it together, the whole game. It’s a 40-minute game. We’re close. We’re getting there, and that’s what I’m excited about.
“Over this next couple of weeks we’re going to try to put it all together.”
Pacific Union’s goal is to get into the CalPac playoffs, being among the top four conference teams. The Pioneers have never done that before.
“I’m confident in our team,” said Glover. “For me and the coaching staff, we’re excited about the team and the competitive nature of the team. The girls are really confident that they have the ability to compete with anybody in league. We’ve shown that with a lot of the teams we’ve played thus far.
“We’ve had our moments. There are some things that we’ve got to fix.
“For us, we’re going to come out and we’re going to compete every night. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of teams this year. Teams are going to understand that we’re here and we’re going to be playing some really good basketball.
“By the time league gets here, we’ll be very competitive.”