After a down year for the Tigers, head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy is counting on a revamped roster to make her trademark press defense a success. With only five returning players from last season, three of which saw the floor, she’s aware that coaching her defense into her team isn’t an easy process.
“If you know our defense, it honestly takes about a year to actually learn it the proper way,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Right now, I just need them to rotate and get to the right spot, so we don’t give up a wide-open layup.”
Redshirt sophomore Honesty Scott-Grayson, who redshirted last year after transferring from Baylor, agreed that learning the defense is challenging. Still, she wants to prove that the team’s determination will make it work.
“When they threw the defense in there, I kept messing up, and I still mess up to this day,” Scott-Grayson said. “[But] as long as we’ve got positive energy, and we’re up, and we’re clapping, getting up on people, it’s going to be a tough time.”
After losing eight players in the offseason, many thought that the team might become less selective in their recruiting. Still, coach Flo asserted that the new players were hand-selected because of their defensive skills and commitment.
And we were very particular on who we recruited. If they couldn’t play defense or didn’t understand the defense that we want to play, then we really just didn’t recruit them,” Williams-Flournoy said. “But the fact that they have the energy, the effort, the desire, and sometimes that’s really all it takes to be a very good defensive player.”
One of the newcomers that the Tigers are very excited about is Alycia Reese, a JUCO transfer out of Chattahoochee Valley, who gained praise from teammates and coaches for her tenacity in practice.
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“The coaches always have to tell her, ‘Oh, we’re doing drills just let them catch the ball,’” senior Unique Thompson said. “Like coach Flo said, she has to work on other things, of course, but she’ll tell you the one thing that she wants to do is guard the ball.”
Along with the challenges facing an almost entirely new roster, coach Flo has had to deal with various issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused several players to miss significant practice time.
“We know it’s been challenging, dealing with COVID, dealing with the acclimation period, and actually being able to have all 15 (players),” Williams-Flournoy said.
She also has made it clear to her players that the pandemic will continue to cause roster issues this season and that they must be able to adapt.
“I don’t want them to get caught up in who’s starting, who’s not starting at this point right now, because of the world that we’re living in,” Williams-Flournoy said. “They all have to be ready to play.”
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