Auburn Athletics as a whole this season will be defined by the play of its freshmen — a freshman quarterback, freshmen pitchers for baseball and a freshman point guard for Auburn women’s basketball.
With all of these crucial positions being played by newcomers, that can provide extra stress to the already day-to-day stresses of life as an SEC coach.
Auburn baseball coach Butch Thompson and women’s basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy discussed the impact of freshmen this year on the various teams at a bowling tournament this past weekend, she said.
“As a head coach, you don’t sleep much when you’re thinking about it because it’s such a crucial position for your team,” Williams-Flournoy said.
Coach Flo may lose some more sleep over the next few weeks, as not only does she have to get a freshman point guard ready for the season; she also has to get them healthy to play.
Lauren Hansen and Sania Wells, both freshmen recruited to play point guard, are out with injuries along with guard Robyn Benton, who is sidelined as well, leaving Auburn to search its roster for a solution to the point guard problem.
Daisa Alexander, Auburn’s lone senior, has been announced as Auburn’s starting point guard for the first game against Wofford. Coach Flo is grateful for her lone senior stepping up to take on the challenge.
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“Our freshmen have been hurt and getting back in,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I think it’s great that our senior, our only senior has decided to step up and take on this opportunity — and much needed for this program to be the point guard.”
Alexander started every game last season but played at the 2-guard next to three-year starter Janiah McKay. While McKay primarily distributed the ball, Alexander was used as a scoring option. Her new role will be to distribute more.
The rest of the starting lineup for the first game against Wofford was announced as well. Alexander will run the point; sophomore Brooke Moore at the 2; freshman Annie Hughes at the 3; redshirt sophomore Kiyae’ White at the 4; and junior Unique Thompson at the 5.
The freshman Hughes was named the 2019 Alabama Miss Basketball and the 2019 Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year in her senior year of high school. The Pisgah, Alabama, product is one that Coach Flo is excited to get an opportunity as Hughes grew up an Auburn fan.
“It’s a huge deal, I thought she was going to jump out of her shoes when we told her, Williams-Flournoy said. “Annie loves Auburn, just absolutely loves Auburn. You start talking about Auburn, she’ll get all teary eyed and everything. She appreciates this opportunity, she’s so excited about this opportunity and she’s going to give us everything she’s got at the top of press.”
The lineup is unorthodox for now, but Coach Flo is hoping to have some normality in the coming weeks.
“I think probably in about another week or so,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It’ll get better and hopefully get everyone back to their natural positions.”
Behind Alexander as the backup point guard for now is freshman Morgan Robinson-Nwagwu. Robinson-Nwagwu is described as more of a 2-guard by Coach Flo and her position could change with players coming back.
Alexander is optimistic about Auburn’s young team this season and what her backup, Robinson-Nwagwu, can do.
“We’re young, but we have a lot to offer,” Alexander said. “We have a lot of different pieces and Morgan — the backup point guard is going to surprise a lot of people.”
Auburn opens its 2019-20 season tonight against Wofford at 6 p.m. CST in Auburn Arena.
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