After 1 game, Tiana Mangakahia appears to be the point guard Syracuse needs

Home   /   After 1 game, Tiana Mangakahia appears to be the point guard Syracuse needs

first_imgAfter Syracuse handily beat Morgan State in its season opener on Nov. 10, head coach Quentin Hillsman lauded Tiana Mangakahia, his brand-new point guard.“Tell you what,” Hillsman said, “without her, we’re done. We don’t win without Tiana.”Against the Bears, Mangakahia dished 10 assists, scored six points and added a trio of steals and rebounds. It wasn’t a dominating performance for Syracuse’s (1-0) replacement of program-great Alexis Peterson, but Mangakahia took hold of the offense in her first real game in two years.“As long as she continues to play that way and control the game,” Hillsman said, “we’re good.”Three days before the Orange’s season opener, Mangakahia was named the starting point guard. When she finally took the court last Friday, she was one of four new faces alongside the only returning starter from last season, Gabrielle Cooper. But by the end of the game, Mangakahia had established herself as someone who could run the hectic, up-tempo style Syracuse has become known for.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen Syracuse grabbed a rebound it was Mangakahia consistently pushing the pace. As the offense formed around her, she picked a driving lane, drew the defense in and made a clean pass to a teammate for an easy basket. Those drive-and-kick plays, along with other key facets, are what Hillsman looks for from his point guards.“Running the team, making sure that the right person is getting the right shots, and things like that,” fellow point guard Isis Young said of what Hillsman expects from Mangakahia.The highlight of this tactic came midway through the first half, when Mangakahia drove and looked like she was going to take the shot — she finished the game 3-for-7 from the field. Instead, she calmly flipped a no-look pass to Jasmine Nwajei for a layup. As the ball dropped, Mangakahia was already setting up the press.“I thought she was really good,” Hillsman said, “Tiana did a really good job of getting our players open looks. That’s what her job is. Getting in the paint, collapse defense and play.”Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorWhen Syracuse wasn’t able to run out off a missed shot, Morgan State set up a press of its own. Still, the ball found Mangakahia’s hands and she was tasked with beating the Bears’ pressure.Sometimes MSU opted to cut off passes, in which case Mangakahia dribbled around a defender. In other instances, Mangakahia drew double teams before half court. She often found an open teammate and passed the ball, setting up a 4-on-3 in the front court for Syracuse.Eventually, after completing enough passes to beat the double teams, Mangakahia used a pass fake and split the two defenders that were anticipating a pass.While all this happened, Hillsman barked orders from the sideline. Even still, his point guard has free reign.“I want her to do what she wants to do with the ball,” Hillsman said. “As long as she’s comfortable, I’m good. She’ll probably play better if I stop yelling at her, so she probably won’t play any better because I won’t stop yelling.”Mangakahia finished with seven more assists than any other SU player, committing just two turnovers in the process. She consistently picked the correct passing lane and passed on target.Sometimes this meant driving and flipping the ball to bigs Digna Strautmane and Amaya Finklea-Guity for easy layups. Other times, Mangakahia would lob the ball to the 6-foot-4 Finklea-Guity in the post. Strautmane and Finklea Guity finished with 17 and 12 points, respectively. If finding her bigs failed, Mangakahia would look for the player down low, often left open by a collapsing defense around her.“It’s not just about me,” Mangakahia said, “it’s everyone else making those baskets.” Comments Published on November 13, 2017 at 8:36 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Graham Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

Recent Comments