Much attention has been focused on the Hatters offensive performance this season, and deservedly so. The team surpasses 80 points on a seemingly nightly basis, five players are averaging double figures in scoring, and the offense ranks 20th in the NCAA in scoring (79.9) and 15th in field goal percentage (.463).
However, the team's defensive effort has also been superb, and one of the main reasons has been the performance of the 2-3 zone, dubbed "Vegas" by the coaching staff.
“We have played it all year, and we work on it every day,” Bria said about the Vegas defense. “The main thing is that it is a defense our players like to play. It is something we are comfortable in. We play it against everybody, it doesn’t matter if they are a good three-point shooting team or not.”
With two guards playing up top and two wings and a center down low, the formation tends to suit Stetson’s personnel quite well.
“I really like the defense because it keeps Amber (Porter) at the basket,” Bria said, referencing the Hatters’ 6-3 freshman center. “She is very hard to score over. That is the main reason I went with the defense because we finally have a ‘big’, and we want to keep her at the basket. It allows our other four people to fan out a little bit and guard the perimeter.”
The result: oppponents are shooting just 35.5 percent from the field against the Hatters, the lowest total in the Atlantic Sun and the 19th-lowest total in the NCAA. Stetson also owns the league's lowest three-point field goal percentage defense as teams shoot just 27.1 percent against the Hatters from behind the arc.
“We really emphasize field goal percentage defense,” Bria said. “I think we guard the arc very well. I don’t feel like teams get wide open threes against us in that defense, because Amber allows us to widen it out a little more.”
Stetson (22-5, 14-1 A-Sun) will look to continue its strong defensive play Thursday night against Northern Kentucky (15-10, 11-3) in the first game of a three-game homestand to conclude the regular season. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. in a game broadcast live on HatterVision.
Stetson has won 14 straight games overall, tying for the fifth-longest active streak in the NCAA, and 13 straight games at home (11-0 this season), marking the 11th-longest active streak in the country. If the Hatters sweep their final three regular season games at home, they will have home court advantage throughout the Atlantic Sun tournament.
"We love playing at home, it is a lot better than playing on the road," Bria said. "But you still have to execute, you still have play the game, and we very much know that."
Tickets start at just $5 and can be purchased at the Edmunds Center ticket office or online at GoHatters.com/tix. Students, faculty and staff are admitted free with a valid ID.
In addition to live video on HatterVision, in-game updates will also be available via live stats, twitter (@StetsonWBB), and the Hat-Alerts text messaging system.