Amid the cacophony of the Radford High gym after the Rams’ 51-31 girls basketball win over Waianae on Thursday, coach Charles Chong said something his girls would be wise to listen to:
“We could be a great team.”
The emphasis, in this case, is on “could.”
After seeing the team for the first time this season, this reporter can attest to the fact that Radford does just about everything well. One area they need work on is ball control.
Now, that’s not to say that the Rams are horrible at it because they’re not. But, suffice to say, just like with many high school teams, or basketball teams at any level for that matter, turnovers have teeth and they bite.
Many times, especially in the second half, Radford was victimized by carelessness with the ball. It didn’t hurt them much, however, because the victory was never in doubt.
But those turnovers will sting against better competition, and the playoffs are here for the Rams, who finished the OIA West at 8-2.
Chong is focused on the problem that, from these eyes, appears to be the only thing keeping Radford from truly soaring.
“We need to take better care of the basketball and that’s something we’re working on in practice,” he said. “Turnovers are going to happen, but the kind I don’t like are the mystery turnovers and the two-second turnovers.”
Chong went on to describe the “mystery” turnovers as times when it “doesn’t need to happen” — such as traveling or a poor pass because of an off-balance delivery. He said the “two-second turnovers” are when “you get a rebound and two seconds later, somehow the other team has the ball.”
It should be noted that Radford is without two key players — Deja Tavale, who tore her ACL and who Chong says is the team’s best shooter, and Jazmyn Peralta, another key guard, who broke her hand.
Maybe with those two, Radford could be “great,” as Chong intimated.
But there is potential for that much-needed ball control. Freshman Tanisha Elbourne is a quick, accurate-shooting, assist-making guard. The only thing she lacks is seasoning.
And then there’s Salara Dill, who was playing her third varsity game after being brought up from the JV. In the second half, she dribbled downcourt, and stopped casually at the top of the key to launch a successful 3-pointer.
Jasmine Moody, the 6-foot-1 post, who scored 14 points against the Seariders, knows exactly what the Rams need to make a run in the playoffs.
“I thought we played a great game,” Moody said after Thursday’s win. “We played good defensively and were talking to each other. We had a little bit of a slow start, but after that, everyone was scoring and I thought that was a great thing.
“Our guards are young and not experienced,” she said. “They need experience. They sometimes are panicking a bit. But we are working very hard at practice on this, and there’s only so much you can do there.”
Yes, Radford is 8-2, but the two losses — to Nanakuli and Mililani — are by a total of seven points.
As mentioned earlier, the Rams’ ball control is not bad. It’s just not the best part of their game. It needs work.
But watch out, OIA and state basketball fans. If Radford gets that part of its game going the way the other parts are performing so efficiently, the Rams could go far.
There’s that word again — “could.”