When Tune Squad, led by Michael Jordan, took on the Monstars in the 1996 classic, “Space Jam,” it did not start off well for Tune Squad.
After falling behind 60-18, Michael Jordan finally found his groove with his fairly new team, to lead a fairytale comeback to defeat the hated Monstars.
In a similar role, junior forward Ariel Edwards is now searching for her own groove on the Lady Lions, hoping to overcome her own slow start.
Four games into the season, Edwards has averaged 8.4 points per game with 3.8 rebounds a game. That includes her 24-point performance against Detroit that can inflate her statistics.
Head coach Coquese Washington cites a new mindset for Edwards as she is now a permanent starter for the first time in her career.
Last year Edwards played a significant role on the team averaging 7 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game with 24.1 minutes per game.
Despite playing that role last year, starting still brings on a new role that takes time adjusting to, Washington said.
“You’ve got four players that have played together for a long time, and now Arie is finding her role in how she fits in,” Washington said. “It will take a little bit of time.”
Washington added that the new role also brings on new expectations that again require some adjusting.
Edwards may not be the Michael Jordan on the team, as the team’s leading scorer of 21.2 points per game, junior guard Maggie Lucas, fills that role.
She still plays a vital role, creating open looks for Lucas on off the ball plays and shooting 44.7 percent from the field, the third best on the team.
So in “Space Jam” terms, she can be identified as the Bugs Bunny of the group.
For a moment, it seemed as if Edwards broke out of her early season slump last week in the Radisson Hotel Chatsworth Thanksgiving Tournament against Detroit.
In a small sample size, Edwards came into the game against Detroit, averaging seven points and five rebounds while shooting 25 percent from the field in three games. However, all that changed in one night.
Along side Lucas, Edwards led the Lions to a 80-72 victory, scoring 24 points, going 11-for-16 from the field, in 25 minutes.
According to the Associated Press, Edwards said after the game that it was “exciting” to see her jump shot finally click as she has been coming to practice an hour early to work on her shot.
Unfortunately, Edwards did not carry her success through the next game against California State Northridge.
She went 1-for-6 scoring four points with two rebounds in 32 minutes.
The one difficult thing in evaluating Edwards’ game is that her statistics do not always matter, as Washington has indicated.
After the Lady Lions’ season debut against Howard, Washington said she liked what Edwards brought to the game even though she did not dominate the stat sheet by scoring only five points with five rebounds.
As senior guard Alex Bentley and Lucas lead the team in scoring, she will never be consistently be the girl who drops 20 points a game.
Nor will she have a rebounding game of corralling 20 rebounds as senior center Nikki Greene did against Cal. State.
If there is one statistic to hold Edwards under the spotlight, it is her shooting percentage, which is why she has been perfecting her shoot with more and more practice.
Take away her game against Detroit and Edwards has shot a mere 22 percent.
However, just like Tune Squad in Space Jam, Edwards might be off to a slow start, it does not mean a strong finish is out of her reach.
She will look to improve her game on Thursday night against a 4-1 Miami (Fla.), the Lions’ own Monstars.
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