As if one nationally-recognized player was not enough, the Lady Frogs will face both of last season’s Mountain West Conference Player of the Year award recipients when they play Utah (13-4, 4-2) on Saturday at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.The Lady Frogs (10-7, 4-2) will have to find a way to handle both senior forward Kim Smith and senior guard Shona Thorburn, who led the Utes to the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament.
Head coach Jeff Mittie said the 6-foot-1-inch Smith, who leads the team in both points and rebounds averages, is akin to BYU’s senior forward Ambrosia Anderson, who scored 24 points against TCU on Wednesday night.
“Smith would be very similar to Anderson,” Mittie said. “She can play inside and play outside; she can do a lot of different things.”
The Lady Frogs should hope that’s not the case, after Anderson shot 6 of 10 from three-point range Wednesday against a Frogs defense that looked sluggish getting out to shooters. However, Smith, while leading the Utes in three-point attempts, is only shooting 31 percent from the arc.
Junior guard Natasha Lacy said although both Anderson and Smith are both prolific scorers, the teams surrounding them have a contrasting mentality.
“They’re very different,” Lacy said. “Whereas Anderson can get her own shot, (Smith and Thorburn’s) teammates get them open looks.”
Though Smith is the focal point of the Utes’ offense, everything still runs through Thorburn. Mittie said the point guard is both consistently efficient and reliable.
“Thorburn is a real heady point guard,” Mittie said. “She’s very smart and rarely makes mistakes.”
She is also an excellent ball distributor. Her 108 assists is more than twice the number of anyone else’s on the team and is good enough for a 6.35 for each game average. Thorburn also rebounds well for a guard and is second on the team with just over 6 a game.
Mittie said Utah will employ a zone defense much like the BYU one the Lady Frogs struggled against earlier in the week. Though the team strategy will be the same, Mittie said, the intensity will have to be raised.
“We’re not going to do anything special,” Mittie said. “We’re just going to do things better. Earlier the game got very half-court. We need to attack it more up-tempo.