Local Sports, Sports, Trinity Christian

Despite Trinity opening season 4-0, Mike Baldy wants improvement in team discipline

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –- A glance at the Trinity girls’ basketball team’s four-game win streak to open the season may seem like a solid run, outscoring opponents 229-96. Yet, to head coach Mike Baldy, there’s a lot to fix before the next stretch of games.

“Not playing good teams quite yet, we’re not playing well ourselves,” Baldy said. “I think we’ve physically overmatched the teams we’ve played so far. We need to run our half-court sets. They’re not really even sets, they’re free-flowing offenses. Every time a team has played man-to-man against us we’ve been bad at getting into our man-to-man stuff. In the past, we’ve been teams that like to walk the ball up the court, call a play, and run a play. That was the style I liked to keep control of the game, and that style does well, like the pack-line defense we run. 

“But this year the team is so talented so I wanted to loosen up the offense a little and have some basic cuts, more positions that players have to fill to allow for good spacing, and let them play freely inside the offense. Unfortunately, we’re not getting in the spacing areas right now and it’s really frustrating. Right now you don’t have to play a good half-court offense, but when you play Parkersburg Catholic, Frankfort, Morgantown, Wheeling Central, you have to be running a good half-court offense to be able to get buckets.” 

When asked if he believes his team getting caught up in overpowering opponents is leading to the miscues and sloppy play, Baldy agreed. He further noted that when a girl outmatches an opposing player in speed and size, his team will reach and throw out the disciplined defense he’s installed.  

“I tell the girls, ‘Good luck reaching when these guards from Wheeling Central show up next Wednesday,’” he said. 

Other small missteps include bad passes and not rolling off screens correctly, despite them working the last few games. 

Still, it’s not entirely detrimental to the team’s composure just yet. With a Saturday match against Charleston Catholic, the Warriors (4-0) should be able to break some of their bad habits heading into a much-more competitive stretch. 

“Although I’m venting and frustrated with how we’re playing, the Madonna game … Madonna’s a nice team, and although we beat them by six we were in a position to open that up to a 26-point game. A couple of things happened where we didn’t, but I feel like in that game, we were good at spots. That’s something I hope will translate when we start to play really good teams.” 

Further, thus far three girls have shined for Trinity: Jaclyn Smith, Paige Smith, and Ruby Smith McCrobie. Jaclyn, the lone senior, is the team’s leading scorer and team leader who has helped the younger players not just learn the offenses, but to teach them what it means to be a Warrior and how to adhere to Baldy’s rules. 

“We talk about attention to detail all the time,” Baldy said. “One example, we don’t talk to the officials or about the officials at all. If the girls don’t like a call and put their hands up to show they didn’t foul, they come right out of the game. When we check into the games, we jog onto the court; we give every girl a high-five when they come off the court; when we warm up we bounce around and aren’t standing flat-footed. It’s intangible things like that, that have been put in place, and Jaclyn has been really important in installing that in all the girls. 

“As far as basketball, she’s really pressing right now and struggling to get in her groove, but she’s still the team’s leading scorer. I know she’s not happy with the way she’s playing, so we’re just trying to implore her to relax and let the game come to her. I think she’ll get back to her normal scoring average and get back to playing a much cleaner game.” 

Smith McCrobie, an important part of the rotation and standout freshman center, hasn’t gotten the time she may have wanted the last few games, but according to Baldy, she’ll be seeing plenty of time shortly. The Madonna game is a good example of her importance to the team, getting a clutch offensive board and put-back to seal the game over the Blue Dons. 

“We’re happy with Ruby,” Baldy said. “She has the sense to go after offensive rebounds. She doesn’t stand still, she wants to get the offensive boards and put-backs, which is hard to teach a center. The one thing we’re trying to work on with her is being more active without the basketball as far as sealing off; is she part of the play or just standing there? But this is four games into her freshman year, so it’s natural we have things we want to work on with her.” 

Of all the newcomers, however, freshman Paige Smith has been Baldy’s most-important player. She’s averaging four points a game, but it’s her other production that makes her a threat for opponents. Paige leads the team in offensive rebounds per game (3), total rebounds per game (5.8), steals per game (3), and is second in assists per game (2.5), field goal percentage (50%) and free throw percentage (75%).

“Paige is killing it right now, she’s the best player on the team,” he said. “She’s made it apparent to us since Day 1 of practice, even during the three-week period, that we have to have her on the floor. She just can’t come out of the game because she’s so dominant in all facets of the game. The thing is, with the four points and you can see it with the field goal percentages, she’s not taking bad shots. We can afford to have lower scoring averages if players are taking all good shots.” 

What makes her dangerous is, outside of film, a lot of information fielded for game planning can be found in state newspapers. If not entirely, most papers only record points per game, which gives players like Paige an upper hand in some games. 

“Paige can really show up and change a game and coaches will be like, ‘Where did this girl come from?’ But Paige likes it. She always says she doesn’t make passes, she makes assists. I think it’s really cool she takes pride in making assists, I love that.”

The Warriors have two games left in their six-game road tour: Charleston Catholic (Saturday) and Elkins (Monday.) They then return to Sabraton for a three-game homestand, hosting Wheeling Central, Madonna and Frankfort to close out the first half of the season. 

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