Perez, who has a roster of eight of nine players remaining from the 2016-2017 AIHEC Division-I championship team, has experienced a schedule that included all of the NAIA teams from the Frontier League and that adequately prepared them to defend their AIHEC title.
“This was probably the toughest schedule in my 11 years as a coach that we’ve ever had,” Perez said. “I certainly think it made my women increase their level of competitiveness and recognize that they need to play harder. We need to be stronger and quicker, which raised their level of competitiveness.”
With mixing the Frontier League schedule and the Tribal schedule, the Lady Bison have gotten a chance to get exposed to a multitude of basketball offensive, defensive schemes and philosophical approaches.
“Offensively, we get to see the teams who execute their offense and teams who really push the ball up the court,” Silas Perez said. “That has caused us to work on our transition defense and be more patient on offense. The way those NAIA teams play defense is mostly tough man to man. That is all we’ve seen is man to man against Frontier League competition. When we played in our tribal tournament, we played some schools that weren’t NAIA schools and had a chance to work on offense the last couple of weeks. We were able to spend time preparing for the zone defenses and adjusting to both schemes shouldn’t be difficult (to adjust to).”
As the Lady Bison prepare for the AIHEC Tournament, they hope to increase their percentage from beyond the arc. Currently, SKC is shooting about 30 percent from 3-point land.
“I would like to hit more three-point shots headed into Divisionals because there is a lot of three-point shooting and I would like to see more than 30 percent,” Silas Perez said. “I would like us to shoot closer to 40 percent during the tournament with our three-point shooting and get a little bit better.”
Against the AIHEC competition, Silas Perez said he anticipates his team will see more zone defenses.
“We have to be more patient and we have to stay more active in the zone,” Silas Perez said. “When they are playing zone defense, we have to be active, have a lot of ball movement and get cutters in spacing. When we find a gap in the zone, we have to attack it and get the zone to shift.”
Silas Perez also wants his Lady Bison to be able to dictate the tempo in AIHEC.
“We plan on being a pressing team and we want to create the tempo and turnovers,” Silas Perez said “By doing that, we should be able to get a lot of transition points. The last few games the women have really stepped it up defensively and got a lot of points in transition.”
With only four players deep, the Lady Bison have to be conscious of being able to not foul. In the season-finale against Yellowstone Christian, the Lady Bison committed 22 fouls to YC’s seven fouls in their one-point loss.
“I had multiple players playing with four fouls and it caused them to play hard and smart in order to not foul out,” Silas Perez said. “Those situations helped us toughen up. Our last two games of the year were cancelled so it’s been a while that our team has had a game.”
One player Silas Perez said he anticipates will be a significant contributor is Shanelle Skunkcap. Skunkcap was a key component to last season’s AIHEC championship run, and her three-point shooting prowess was a catalyst that helped sparked the Lady Bisons to another AIHEC Title.
“Skunkcap went on a tournament run during AIHEC and had four three-pointers during a game,” Silas Perez said. “It wasn’t that she was shooting a lot. It was that they were playing a zone defense and we overloaded the zone defense with a lot of ball movement. When you make those shots, it opens up the zone. We had a couple of chances to be able to make a shot.”
Wearing an SKC jersey comes with it a lot of expectation and the Lady Bison and their Bison counterparts also expect to get their team’s best every time they play each other.
“To be honest, our expectation is to win every year,” Silas Perez said. “I haven’t thought about winning the championship. In practice, we are just focused on doing what we need to do to get better. Our women have done a really good job of working hard and improving from the beginning of the season. They have come to understand some of our ideas and are excited to participate in this year’s AIHEC. I haven’t thought much about winning AIHEC I’ve just been focused on winning games. “Winning AIHEC would certainly be nice. For some of my players, it will be their last AIHEC and it would be nice to go out on top.”