The Lady Lions’ magical run to the Sweet 16 last season did not come without flaws.
As a team, the Lions often found themselves at the top of statistical categories — eigth best points per game in the country, 75.7, and 27th best field goal percentage, 43.1 percent— but there was one statistical category the team finished near last in. That category was personal fouls.
The team committed 581 fouls in 34 games, an average of 17.6 personal fouls per game, which ranked 264th in the NCAA and third worst in the Big Ten.
One major source of those fouls was now-senior forward/center Nikki Greene. Her 116 last season made up roughly 20 percent of the team’s fouls.
In 2011-12, Greene improved on a lot of components to her game from the 2010-11 season.
She raised her field goal percentage from 43.2 to 47.2, which was second best on the team. She raised her free throw percentage by 15.8 percentage points and cut down on her turnovers by 16 total.
Yet, limiting her fouls has evaded her. Averaging 115 fouls per season during the last three years, it has hampered her game, keeping her to an average of only 20.6 minutes per game last season.
“When I went into foul trouble, a lot of stuff was just not keeping my composure,” said Greene. “My whole thing this year is keeping my composure and just play through everything that [happens] on the court.”
Greene showed that temperament during the team’s European Tour this summer.
She played extensive minutes, exhibiting a strong offensive presence, while limiting fouls, assistant Kia Damon said.
Complete box scores were not made available for the three European exhibition games, but Greene appeared dominant, averaging 17.3 pointsper.
“She did a good job in Europe of keeping away from those fouls,” said junior forward Talia East, who often replaced Greene when she got into foul trouble. “Just her understanding of that giving up an early basket, that’s [less] important than her coming off the court. So I think just being mindful of that and her basketball IQ has grown, hopefully she will remain on the court.”
A calmer Greene will be key for the Lions in 2012-13, as the starter remains an important part of the team’s game, on both sides of the ball, Damon said.
“What you'll see this year is a more mature Nikki with a better understanding of how to use her strengths and when to take risks and when not to take risks,” Damon said.