Coaches Corner: Steve Curtis, Ladies Basketball
Thursday, November 15, 2007

After a good practice Thursday we were back at it hard Friday afternoon.  About twenty minutes into the workout Jasmine Bothwell did a great job of splitting the gap in our zone defense and jump stopped to shoot.  She came down on someone’s foot and rolled her ankle pretty good.  She has practiced sparingly this fall as she recovers from off season shoulder surgery, but she has been very good when she is out there.  A few plays later after deflecting a pass Brittany Barbee grimaced and moved over toward coach KC Cowgill at midcourt; KC suddenly had a look of disgust on her face as Brit walked back toward her teammates.  Immediately they all screamed and turned away.  I thought her face was bleeding (her back was to me) but I soon realized it was her thumb.  Her knuckle was bent back and turned the wrong direction.  I didn’t get a good look at it before she made it over to Dustin, our trainer, but the descriptions I got from our players were pretty repulsive.  I was relieved when Dustin called from the hospital to tell me her thumb was ‘only’ dislocated, not broken.  She will be out for a little while but not as long as I feared.  In many ways she is our leader, her spirit and her work ethic inspire us all.  We need her and Jasmine back, and soon. 


Saturday began with the much anticipated Bossier City seven and eight year old championship game at 9:00 am.  The Stallions scored on their first two drives and held on for a 12-6 victory.  There was such elation in the air afterward as they jumped up and down high-fiving each other.  Each team took pictures holding their trophies with smiles all around.  I have to admit I enjoyed it as well, just the purity of children playing a game for the joy of it.  I want our team to experience that joy this season as well.


After the game we headed to the bus for the trip to Mississippi State.  Our bus is fantastic; it is divided into two rooms with an entertainment center complete with HDTV and DirecTV in each.  There are leather sofas, refrigerators, stations for video games, and room to sleep 26.  It’s always fun to watch everyone claim their spots for the year.  KC was quick to grab the prime location up front, a bunk with a great view of the television.  I may have to repossess that one at some point.  The good thing about this trip is Bojan and my families could go with us.  So as I am writing this Bethany has control of the remote in the back, I have control of the remote up front (much to the dismay of some), and John, Mattie, Katie, and Anja are coloring and watching a movie.  Those up front with me are getting dizzy from me changing back and forth between The Huskers game with K-State and Mississippi State’s game with Alabama.  I hope State wins this one, but tomorrow I will definitely be trying everything I can to give them a loss.


Our game against Mississippi State was a mixture of highs and lows for us.  We started out very slowly as we struggled with turnovers – MSU does a great job with their pressure, and it took us awhile to adjust to it.  We settled down and had a stretch of pretty good basketball to get within four points right before halftime.  We went to the locker room down eight but I felt we were in pretty good shape if we could continue to execute.  With about eight minutes to go they were still within reach but we had some costly breakdowns that let them get away from us.  There was quite a bit to be pleased about, but the bottom line is we have to become more consistent. 


As you probably know I came to Centenary from Mississippi State so this trip meant I would see a lot of old friends.  Early in the second half of  our game Sharon, their head coach, gave the signal for their zone trap, and I immediately yelled “watch the trap!” to our team.  All of the Lady Bulldogs on the court just looked at me and smiled – we had been through a few battles together but now I’ve come over to the other side.  So they ran their trap, we attacked it, and both teams went on about the business of trying to beat each other.  It was a nice moment nonetheless.  After the game more than one of them got on me about calling out their plays to my new team.  There were hugs, smiles, and laughs about old times.  I only wish we had been able to pull out a victory.  While we didn’t get that done hopefully our Ladies learned that we can be competitive with one of the best programs in the nation, and if we eliminate the mistakes we will become a very good team.


Which brings me to Tuesday night’s game at UL-Monroe.  We got off to a decent start and broke out to an early lead even though we were turning the ball over too much.  Monroe is a team that lives and dies with a full court press, so we were expecting them to be aggressive and they were.  The frustrating thing is the full court press was not a factor in our turnovers.  We would break the press and then just throw the ball away, or dribble it into trouble, or make a silly mistake with the ball.   It was a five point game at the half despite our 23 turnovers.  We went on to lose 59-46 in a game in which we gave up 25 offensive rebounds and had 34 turnovers.  Those are fixable problems but we need to fix them now.  It’s like I told our players after the game:  I am confident we are going to be a good team but I am tired of talking about what should have been.  I guess I’m finding out what Jim Mora felt like when he took over the Saints a few years back – woulda, coulda, shoulda.  It’s time to stop saying that and start winning some games. 


We have a full week ahead of us.  Wednesday is the first day of the fall signing period and we are expecting some activity there (NCAA rules won’t allow me to go into detail at the present time).  We play Birmingham-Southern on Saturday in the Gold Dome, then head out Monday for a game with Texas-Pan American on Tuesday.   We know what our problems are, so I’ll let you know next Wednesday if we are starting to get them fixed.  See you then.


Go Ladies