On Sunday night, junior forward Becca Mills enjoyed the fruits of her labor.
A summer spent on developing a post game was shown in Sunday’s 91-47 win over Grand Valley State, where Mills posted 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks in just 24 minutes.
Instead of jumpers, Mills did the majority of her work in the paint, taking advantage of a smaller opposing lineup and hitting nine of her 11 shots. Head coach Suzy Merchant, who named Mills as the player she is most excited to watch this season during media day, praised her balanced attack after the game.
“I like to see her really being aggressive out there,” Merchant said. “She played within herself. She didn’t force too many things. For her, she worked really hard this offseason and decided about what she brings to the team.”
Mills got into foul trouble and sat for much of the first half, but once she re-entered the game she was more focused, scoring 14 of her 18 points in the final 20 minutes.
“I just sat on the bench during the first half because I got a little antsy and I think that might have made me a little more aggressive in the second half,” Mills said.
Mills took advantage of what the defense gave her. The Lakers often switched on screens, which allowed Mills to post up against smaller players.
“We already have a size advantage with me against a team like Grand Valley, where the girls aren’t as big,” Mills said. “But when they switch screens especially, they had a little girls on me and we knew that. We were trying to work on pushing the ball inside and scoring inside.”
With junior center Jasmine Hines and junior center Madison Williams recovering from injuries, Mill’s transition to the post couldn’t have come at a better time. She will be relied upon to help hold down the paint until Hines and Williams return to the rotation.
“The tough thing is we really don’t have a post with Jasmine Hines and Madison out,” Merchant said. “There’s a lot that falls in on her. I really like the way she just … let the game come to her. She’s wasn’t trying too hard or over trying, and obviously that allowed her to have 14 second half points.”
A year ago, it’s unlikely that Mills would be able to handle such a task, but with a larger repertoire Mills is prepared to take on a larger role this season.
“I have to be more physical and aggressive with scoring inside, which I would say a year ago, I would not have been as comfortable with it,” Mills said. “But now it’s fine. You just have to do what the team needs me to do.”
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