The women's basketball team has never been one to rack up hefty offensive numbers. The team averaged just 62.2 points per game in 2006-07, a marked improvement from the previous season when it recorded 56.4.
But if Saturday's scrimmage against UMass Dartmouth was any indication, the 2007-08 team will not be lacking on the offensive side. The Jumbos scored 50 points in the first half alone, no doubt a product of its potent transition game.
"It showed us that we can score in the break," coach Carla Berube said. "It's hard to tell from a scrimmage who we really are, but I hope we have a lot of halves where we're scoring 50 points. We certainly didn't do that in the second half, but it's hard to keep up that kind of running for an entire game."
That kind of up-tempo game can be partially attributed to the play of freshman point guard Colleen Hart, who will fill the starting role when the team takes the court against Rhode Island College tonight.
"She's a confident point guard," Berube said. "She's always looking to make plays in our break. She's also a good outside shooter and gets to the rim well, and, to her credit, she's a good defender.
"We're looking to her to start off by running our team," Berube continued. "It's a lot to put on a freshman, especially at the point; it will be a learning process."
Hart's court vision and foot-speed will undoubtedly give her the upper hand when it comes to pushing the ball up the floor.
"Her view of the court is amazing," junior Kim Moynihan said. "She's able to see so much of the court and she will get you that pass right where it needs to be. She enjoys pushing the ball up the court - it was part of her game coming into the program."
Like in past years, Tufts' pesky man-to-man defense will create plenty of opportunities to use the outlet pass to translate turnovers into quick points. But the 2006-07 squad's playing style is finally dedicated to that kind of game. While the play of guards like Valerie Krah and Taryn Miller-Stevens (both LA '07) and Jess Powers (LA '06) gave the team both transition experience and kick-out opportunities, the Jumbos preferred instead to settle into their half-court offensive set.
"From what I heard, last year we were more of a set team where we dribbled the ball up the court and got set in our offense," junior transfer Katie Tausanovitch said. "We have a bigger capacity to be a running team this year.
"Obviously a huge part of it is how aggressive we're going to be on defense," she continued. "A lot of those points came off deflections and picks and steals. How effective we are in transition will stem from how aggressive we are defensively."
Although last year's defense induced 20.6 turnovers per game and nabbed 10.5 steals, its point totals were constantly in the 50s and 60s. But by pushing the ball up the court, the team will be looking for easy lay-ups and open kick-outs for quick jumpers.
For a team of Tufts' size - it has three players over 6 feet and another at 5-foot-11 - it seems almost contradictory to have an offense centered around speed, but from guard to center, everyone on the team runs well.
"As long as I'm here we're going to be running," Berube said. "We have wings that run the floor very well and post players that run well. We're always looking to score off of turnovers and rebounds."
With that kind of versatility, the Jumbos will certainly be an offensive force this season.
"It's exciting to have so many offensive threats," Moynihan said. "We're quick and fast and strong - we have so many options. If for some reason a team is faster than us and we're struggling to push the ball we can set up an offense and get it inside to the post."