With the start of women’s basketball right around the corner, Lady Bucs coach Brittney Ezell is excited to see what her team will be able to accomplish this season.
The women’s team will play their first exhibition game on Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. at Freedom Hall.
“I want to see them make mistakes because of effort,” said coach Ezell. “I don’t expect them to be perfect, but I do expect them to have the right amount of effort and attitude of what we’re doing. I think the first game will be a good measuring stick for us to show us what we need to work on in our opener on Nov. 13.”
Playing style will be a big factor for the Lady Bucs because of the size of their team.
“We want to be able to play in the half court, but we’re athletic enough to play fast,” Ezell said. “I try not to limit them. I want us to play multiple styles depending on who we play and what works best for us.”
“We’re not big enough to come down and play half court basketball, so we’re going to try to press and play as fast as we can.”
Backcourt guards Shamauria Bridges and Tianna Tarter were both named members of the Preseason All Conference team.
“Tianna Tarter had a phenomenal freshman year,” Ezell said. “I honestly believe she should have been the freshman of the year last year. Just her impact alone helped [give us the] push that we need to have such a phenomenal year last year.”
Ezell said Bridges has also contributed to the team’s success.
“Shamauria Bridges is the premier shooter of the conference,” Ezell said. “I don’t think she will get a lot of touches this year without a lot of hands in her face or without seeing some traps.”
The chemistry and hard work demonstrated by Tarter and Bridges will be important during the upcoming season.
“They are roommates and [the] best of friends,” Ezell said. “When they are your two hardest workers and players, it says a lot about their character to me.”
In order for the two backcourt players to help the Lady Bucs reach their full potential, the team will need to improve its field goal and three-point percentages.
The Lady Bucs have a lot of youth on this season’s team. They are coming in with eight underclassmen, all looking to help make an impact.
“Exhibition and nonconference will help us get a look at different combinations and chemistry, because you don’t know how a kid is going to react until you put them out there,” said Ezell. “We have 12 able bodies, [but you] never know down the season. With injuries or illness, you might be down to eight or nine, so we’re just trying to figure out combinations that work.”
Though the team had a successful season last season, Ezell feels there are no expectations for this season.
“We don’t talk about winning,” Ezell said. “We talk about process and trusting each other. That’s really our mantra; that’s what the program is built on.”
“There’s a right way to do things; there’s a right way to work; there’s a standard of expectation in terms of behavior,” Ezell added. “If they do all of those things and prepare how they are supposed to, then winning kind of takes care of itself.”
Though Ezell said she sometimes pushes her players, she also celebrates success.
“I think I’m a players coach,” Ezell said. “Since I played the game at the D1 level, I think I’m very demanding at times, because I know how good kids are capable of being. Sometimes they need someone to point that out, but I’m also their biggest cheerleader in everything they did. I really think my leadership style is about serving our players, because they are the most important people in the program.”
Coming off a 20-win season, the Lady Bucs will need to improve their record in nonconference games after going 10-9 a season ago.
In addition to winning more of their non-conference games, the Bucs will have to show continued success in the conference after going 13-3 last season.
Even though the Lady Bucs have no specific expectations for this season, others have made predictions for the SoCon standings. The Bucs are predicted to finish third in the conference behind Chattanooga and Furman.