Maria Tritou and Gabriella Knutson use backhand shot to elevate game

first_img Published on April 21, 2016 at 12:33 am Contact Jake: [email protected] After Maria Tritou ripped a two-handed backhand down the sideline, Virginia Tech’s Kelly Williford stumbled while reaching for the ball. Her arms were fully extended as she couldn’t catch up with the rocket shot. Williford then approached the green tarp behind the court as the ball collided into it.All Williford could do is pick up the ball and walk back to the line for the next point. And even though Tritou eventually lost the match, her backhand is what helped make a comeback attempt. That same backhand is what’s helped elevate her game during Syracuse’s five wins in their last six conference games.Seventh-seeded SU (13-7, 7-7 Atlantic Coast) opens the ACC Tournament on Thursday at 10 a.m. in Cary, North Carolina against No. 10 seed North Carolina State (15-10, 6-8) and will look to Tritou and Gabriella Knutson to continue using their backhand shot to pay dividends in the postseason.Knutson says that going to the backhand gives her more velocity on her shots that she doesn’t have with other stances and moves. The move allows Knutson to adapt to in game situations and from player to player.“I definitely get more power (from the backhand),” Knutson said. “I feel much more confident in it. I have (the ability to use) two hands and the backhand gives me (more versatility).”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen Knutson goes to her backhand, the velocity drastically increases. The speed of the ball has consistently frozen opponents and the control that Knutson has with her backhand has allowed for pinpoint placement of balls throughout the court. This versatility and ability to alter the approach of every shot with such consistency has lead Knutson to the best record on the team at 14-5.Tritou too has also developed a highly successful backhand that has allowed her to become another go-to option on the team when Knutson, Valeria Salazar or Anna Shkudun are off their game. She’s won three of her last six games to close out the regular season.Tritou echoed Knutson and feels that her backhand has a more natural feel to it. As a baseline player who likes to have quick returns down the lines of the court, the backhand has become a weapon that surprises opponents before they can react.“It depends on how you feel,” Tritou said. “… I feel more comfortable with my backhand.”Head coach Younes Limam said Tritou and Knutson simply have better backhands than other players on the team. By sticking to their strengths they’re successful by allowing them to transfer their weight and get off an effective, accurate shot.“They lean through the ball more (than others),” Limam said. “They hit through the ball more using less spin.”And with the postseason coming up, assistant coach Shelley George expects Tritou and Knutson to stick with what’s worked.“It will always be their favorite shot,” George said. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more


USC tops UW to advance in Pac-12 tourney

first_imgKatie Chin | Daily TrojanMoving on · Freshman guard De’Anthony Melton comes around a block and drives toward the paint. The Trojans stayed neck-and-neck with Washington on Wednesday night, but pulled out the win to advance to play UCLA.It was not the ideal start they expected, but USC managed to use a second half rally to come away with a tightly contested 78-73 victory over Washington in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament Wednesday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.After trailing the Huskies by a basket at the half, USC opened the second half on a scoring run that gave it the only lead change of the game. A 3-point field goal from Washington sophomore guard Matisse Thybulle put the Huskies ahead of the Trojans 37-27 with 3:33 remaining in the first half. USC responded by finishing the first half on a 10-2 run that was capped off with a dunk from USC sophomore Chimezie Metu. The Trojans trailed Washington at the half, 39-37. USC’s 14-5 run to open the second half gave the Trojans a 52-44 lead over Washington with just under 15 minutes remaining in regulation. USC took its first lead of the game on a dunk from Metu that put it ahead of the Huskies, 43-42, with 17:25 left in the second half. This dunk from Metu gave USC a lead it would not relinquish for the remainder of the game. The Trojans used a 9-0 scoring run midway through the second half to solidify its lead over Washington. A 3-point field goal from junior guard Elijah Stewart gave the Trojans their largest lead of the game at 67-53 with 9:10 left in play. “We were just being smart and trying to take care of the basketball tonight,” junior guard Jordan McLaughlin said to the Pac-12 Network. “I was just trying to make the smart play and tried not to force things out there.”Washington was able to pull within 3 points of USC with just over 20 seconds remaining in play. However, USC redshirt junior Shaqquan Aaron was able to hit a pair of free throws after being intentionally fouled to put the Trojans ahead by the final score of 78-73. Metu was the offensive catalyst for the Trojans Wednesday, as he recorded game-highs in points scored (24) and rebounds (9) against the Huskies. Defensively, USC put together a stout performance against Washington in its first Pac-12 Tournament game. The Trojans, who finished the regular season as the top-stealing team in the Pac-12, were able to swipe away a total of 14 steals Wednesday. USC’s steals were able to contribute toward its transition attack, as the Trojans finished with 18 points off of Washington’s 17 turnovers in the game. Washington had a strong shooting start in the first half against USC. The Huskies finished the first half by hitting 16-of-28 (57.1 percent) shot attempts. Washington opened the contest by hitting five of its first nine shots (72.7 percent) from 3-point range.USC was able to advance to the second round of conference tournament play despite a difficult night shooting from long distance. The Trojans finished Wednesday night shooting only 4-for-16 (25 percent) from deep. With the victory, USC (the No. 6 seed in the tournament) will now take on No. 3 seed UCLA in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament Thursday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. This will be the third consecutive season in which the Trojans and Bruins do battle in the Pac-12 Tournament. USC and No. 3 UCLA split their regular season series in 2017, each team taking the matchup on its respective home floor. “We’ve just got to bring the energy and come ready to play,” McLaughlin said. “The last time we played them we came out with energy, but we kind of quit on ourselves in the second half. We’ve just got to bring out energy.”last_img read more