The ladies started practicing Tuesday. The team will have a mix of experienced starters, experienced players looking to get their starts this season, and a talented group of newcomers. The team went 16-14 last season, and looks to improve upon that, this season.
Practice was no “ease into” things. Coach Adams got started, and the girls were hard at work, immediately. Fundamentals were on the agenda. Defense. Defense the way that would make The Bear smile. Well, not smile, perhaps, but happy to see. There was also plenty of shooting and passing. And running. Lots of running. After watching Coach Adams coach, it was easy to see why she gets the most out of her players. She is continually teaching. She teaches the big picture concepts, and the small details needed to get there. She does it in an interesting way. She encourages. She challenges. She corrects. She smiles and throws in a little humor. She never once said anything that would make a player feel anything negative. She is demanding in an undemanding way.
Anete Steinberga, the 6 foot 2 inch junior forward with two years of play already under her belt looks like a serious task master on the floor. Gloria Brown, last year’s leading scorer on the team, looks like she is ready to pick up where she left off, and with last season’s experience, she will probably be even better. El Paso’s own, Kayla Thornton, the 6 footer out of Irvin High School is back, and will play a key role in the success of this year’s team. She is fun to watch, as she never, ever, loses the smile from her face. It is obvious that she is just having fun, doing what she does best.
Brianna Green and Kelli Willingham averaging 8.9 and 9.0 points per game respectively return at the guards positions, along with Kim Smith.
Perhaps the thing that is what has Coach Adams smiling the most is the depth this team has accumulated. Nine of the players saw significant playing time last year, and Coach Adams has added a couple of talented transfers to the mix, including Melisa Mendes from Everux, France by way of NW Florida State College. The first thing I noticed about Mendes was her speed, and quickness. You see that with the 5′ 7″ players, but Mendes is 5′ 9″ and so it sticks out a little more.
Then, there is the scoring machine Jenzel Nash. The freshman guard, left Worthing High School, leading the nation is scoring, last year. She averaged 37.7 points per game, and because she was involved in so many bowouts, she was often pulled long before the game was over. She could have easily averaged more. But, she is also a very unselfish player, and takes a lot of pride in making assists. Oh, and the onetime cheerleader isn’t hard to look at, either.
This team will be a fan’s dream to watch. You will get old school toughness on defense. The Bear loved Coach Adams because of this. On offense, the team has so much added depth at the guard position that the team will look to push the ball up court and play an up tempo style.
So, as practice begins for the 2011-12 season, this team’s future is so bright you might want to bring your sunglasses to their games.