With the conclusion of USA Basketball’s four-game fall exhibition tour, let’s empty the notebook on their 93-63 win over Texas A&M, headlined by Chennedy Carter’s game-high 34 points.
Carter got her 34 points on 21 field goal attempts, boosted by 5-of-10 shooting from distance. The junior guard knocked down an impressive mix of jumpers off the dribble, including four 3-pointers and a tricky one-footed midrange leaner.
She had some fun in the second quarter darting around a baseline screen for her lone catch and shoot 3-pointer. Sue Bird chased over the top of the screen, and Carter shot the All-Star guard a quick look before burying the corner triple.
Carter shot out of a canon for a righty finish in the opening minutes. With Sylvia Fowles up near the level of the screen, Carter managed to beat the veteran shot-blocker to the rim and finish off glass.
In addition to the shots she made off the bounce, A&M’s floor general was a handful for Team USA splitting two defenders in pick and roll and scooting right around Bird and Fowles once apiece to draw two fouls early in the third quarter.
One of Carter’s three assists in her 32 minutes of action was set up by a mean right-to-left crossover. She shoveled it to Ciera Johnson quickly, right as Fowles had committed to sliding over a tad to wall off the drive.
Additionally, the 5’7” guard made plenty of passes that didn’t show up in the box score. Late in the first quarter in a pick and pop situation, Team USA attempted to push Carter toward the sideline. She made a quick read to set up her corner shooter, Aaliyah Wilson, as Layshia Clarendon camped out near the nail sitting on the pass to Cheah Rael-Whitsitt at the top of the key.
Carter caught Clarendon off guard as A&M appeared to be setting up some ‘Horns’ action. Carter just took off and drew help in the lane by crossing over on Napheesa Collier.
(Carter mixed things up with a simple point at Skylar Diggins-Smith’s unsuccessful attempt at drawing a charge after the glance at Bird flying by earlier in the game.)
This next read out of a pick and pop situation was even more impressive than the first. Carter fired a cross-court laser to Shambria Washington as Bird was the one shaded over near the foul line this time.
Looking at a sequence like this from the defense’s perspective, you may hope for a little more ball pressure to make that kind of pass much riskier. But remember those drives and splits shown earlier. In practice, this alone is a win more times than not with Collier close enough to take away the immediate pull-up jumper without selling out so much as to cede an easy runway into the lane.
In the final seconds of the third quarter, watch Carter run the clock down then get the ball out the second Diggins-Smith commits one extra step toward a full-on double team:
The team’s spacing wasn’t ideal, but boiling a sequence like that down to what Carter did—recognizing the double and getting the ball out quickly to an open player—still matters. Getting the ball to the open player as that second defender’s momentum is still taking her toward Carter has a lot of value.
As seen in the examples above, Carter made plenty of high-quality reads to set up some open looks on top of her own scoring and the three assists she was credited for in the box score. She already possesses one of the most coveted skills in basketball: Drawing a crowd. Against a team full of pros, she demonstrated the ability to leverage that by knowing when and how to find the teammate in an advantage situation.
Carter also made some impressive effort plays on the other end of the floor. She opened the game with a jumper and got back to block Fowles’ attempt at a reverse layup.
It’s still unclear if Carter actually forced Fowles to physically eat that basketball.
Also seen in the first half: blowing up a potential handoff for Diggins-Smith with an aggressive ball denial and giving multiple efforts fronting Collier in the post.
Carter added to her block tally crashing down on Ogwumike in time as her teammates swarmed Fowles on the left block.
Without question, the Aggies are destination viewing this college basketball season. Carter’s 30- and 35-point performances weren’t quite enough as A&M came up just short in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments as they ran into the Notre Dame buzzsaw. The WNBA world will be waiting on an important decision by Carter, a potential early entrant, after the season.
For now, though, let’s be sure not to forget how close her team already got to taking down the Fighting Irish. Those showings bode well for what they can accomplish in March. Starting the 2019-20 season ranked in the top 10, they’re already in a position to flip the script, becoming the giant the next up-and-comer will hope to topple.
Coming later this month: Breakdowns of the U.S. national team’s exhibitions against Oregon State and Stanford.
In case you missed it: Thoughts on Oregon’s win over the U.S. National Team
Graphic by Akshay Ram