Coaches Corner: Steve Curtis, Ladies Basketball
Sunday, February 17, 2008



Last week started out on an incredibly sad note.  Sunday morning as I was on my way to church I received an e-mail saying Matthew Campbell had passed away.   Only a couple of days before the entire Centenary community gathered at the Fitness Center to make a video for Matthew and his family; in it a camera circled the track as if it were Matthew as students, faculty, staff, and friends cheered for him to continue on.  It was an emotional scene to say the least; I saw more than a few tears as the camera went around to cheers of “Matthew! Matthew!”  Several people held up signs of encouragement.   At his funeral a few days later the chapel on campus was filled with people whose lives Matthew touched.  It was a beautiful celebration of his life, although there is nothing on this earth sadder than the funeral of a child.  My heart aches for Francine, Sid, and the rest of his family.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them.


During Wednesday’s practice Michelle grabbed a rebound and took off up the court.  Suddenly she grimaced and stopped in her tracks.  She had strained her arch and was in quite a bit of pain.  The worst part for her is she was having her best practice in awhile and was playing very well.  Unfortunately she is going to be out for a few weeks until she heals.  We will miss her energy and tenacity on the boards until she returns. 


When we played Oakland earlier this season it was not pretty; we had one of our worst games of the year and had not played well at all.  They are one of the top teams in our league, and they are very difficult to play against.  We have been practicing well lately so I was confident we could win if we executed and played to our potential.  I was almost correct; late in the game the margin was six points and you could see our confidence growing.  Then as Karolina was getting back on defense she tripped and put her arm down to break her fall.  Instead, she injured her wrist and had to be taken out of the game.  During the timeout as Karolina was being treated you could see our players looking around at each other as if to say “what can go wrong next?”  At first we feared it was broken, but as it turned out it was only sprained.  From that point on Oakland pulled away to win a game that was pretty competitive throughout. 


You may have noticed last weekend was “Think Pink” weekend in college basketball.  If you watched any games you saw teams around the country wearing pink uniforms, warm-ups, shoestrings, etc.   The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association did this in an effort to raise awareness of Breast Cancer.  It is a horrible disease that has affected thousands around the world, including Kay Yow, the coach at North Carolina State who is battling it as she coaches her team.  I have only coached against her once – while I was at Ole Miss we played her team in the NCAA Tournament round of sixteen.  We were fortunate to win and go on to the elite eight, but her teams have always been very well prepared for whatever they face.   It strikes close to home for me in another way as well.  Someone in my family is also fighting this disease and we are seeing its effects first hand.  Our players warmed up in pink shirts, and our coaches wore pink as well – Bojan had a pink shirt and KC suffered through wearing pink shoes that produced quite a few blisters.  Me?  I had a beautiful pink tie on Saturday and a pink shirt on Monday.   Hopefully the contributions from around the country will get us closer to finding a cure.


The injuries to Karolina and Michelle left us with seven healthy bodies for the game with IPFW Monday evening.  We got off to a slow start as they hit a few threes early to pull out to a nice lead.  We had problems on the offensive end in the first half and were down pretty good at halftime.  In the second half we finally got our offense going and shot 56% from the floor.  That is what we are fighting right now:  we play pretty well in stretches but then we have spells when we play poorly.    The thing we are constantly talking with our players about is to keep improving and stay after it.  Thus far they have and hopefully they will continue to do so.  Admittedly, it gets tougher as we go along.  It looks like we will get Karolina back this weekend as we go to Western Illinois and IUPUI, but Michelle looks to be doubtful.  Regardless of who we have we are going to give it our best.  It is just a matter of us putting together a complete game rather than having 30 or 35 good minutes.  Check back next week and I’ll let you know how we do.


Go Centenary!




Hello again from Centenary!


Thursday night after practice we loaded our bus and took off to Kansas City.   Our bus has enough beds for everyone to sleep comfortably so we decided to drive up overnight rather than spend the day in airports Friday.  We pulled into our hotel around 7:30 am, grabbed some breakfast, and headed over to Kemper Arena for practice at 11.  I was looking forward to playing there; it is a historic old stadium like many others around the country.  There have been numerous big tournaments in that building, including the Final Four won by Danny Manning and Kansas in 1988.  While I remember watching that championship game with Oklahoma pretty vividly, a majority of our players here at Centenary hadn’t been born when the game was played.  I guess I’m getting old.


The game itself was like too many others lately.  We got off to a decent start and were within a point a few minutes into it.  Then we had breakdowns which cost us and we went into halftime down by a good bit.  Coming out of the locker room we had a stretch of very good basketball and were in the game until the last couple of moments.  We ended up losing by 11 - our inconsistency cost us again.  Ashley played well offensively and Leslie had a very good game defensively, but all in all it adds up to another loss.


We left our hotel in Kansas City on Sunday at 4 a.m. heading for Southern Utah.  I was disappointed the fountains outside the Bellagio weren’t going as we drove over to the Forum Shops adjacent to Caesar’s Palace. We had a long flight into Las Vegas and I wanted to let the players walk around for about 45 minutes to shake off the effects of the plane ride.  From there it was over to Paris to hit the buffet.  The architects did a great job of making the inside look like the streets of Paris, and of course there were lots of pictures taken by the Eiffel Tower. 


After lunch we were back on the bus and off to Cedar City, Utah.  It was raining so the sky was a mixture of grays; in fact the mountains gave the impression of a giant marble Bundt cake.  Just above the desert floor was a layer of black, followed by the white of the fogs and clouds mixed in, with other layers of black, white, and deep gray.  The top of the mountains were above the clouds, which added to the illusion. 


About an hour north of Vegas you descend into the Virgin River Gorge, which the “river” carved over millions of years.  Actually it’s more like a creek – when I think of a river I think of something more like the Mississippi where I grew up.  As I thought of how long it took for the water to carve through the mountains and create the chasm my thoughts turned to our program.  There are no shortcuts to building it successfully.  We have to forge ahead, constantly keeping the pressure on to improve, and eventually we will shape Centenary Women’s Basketball into something grand.  We need some urgency because we don’t have a million years to get it done. 


The game with Southern Utah was one of the worst of the season for us.  We started slowly and never recovered.  There is a sign outside of the visiting locker room there that says “Welcome to Centrum Arena – A mile high where the air is rare.” We talked with our players about how it was put there to influence weak minded teams.  In reality the altitude was not a factor in the game at all.  During the first few minutes of play we made several defensive miscues to give them easy shots.  A few weeks ago we were at the top of the conference in three point percentage defense, but in two of the last three games we have given up numerous wide open looks behind the arc.  Consistency is not our strong suit, to say the least.


The rest of this column should be titled ‘Another Glamorous Day in the Life of the College Athlete’.    We met in the lobby of our hotel at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning after the Southern Utah game.  Our flight was scheduled to leave Vegas at 7:15.  I was trying to sleep on the bus around 5 a.m. when my phone rang.  It was the airline letting me know our flight was delayed until 8:30.  Not a problem, we had a two hour layover in Dallas so we should make our connection.  As we checked in Bethany’s bag was overweight so she put some of her school books in Bojan’s suitcase.  We boarded our plane but as we sat on the runway the pilot came on and said “They are shutting down several runways in Dallas due to high winds, so we will have to sit here for a few minutes and see what happens.”  After awhile we taxied back to the gate, and eventually we got clearance to take off. 


DFW was down to two runways – one for flights coming in and the other for flights going out.  We felt pretty good about making our connecting flight since most flights in Dallas were delayed as well.  After a bumpy landing around 2:45 p.m. we rushed to see about our flight - it had just left.  There were five more flights scheduled for Shreveport later in the day but one of those had already been cancelled.  We got onto the standby list for the next flight out and began weighing our options.  There was a flight to Longview with a few seats on it; could we find anyone to pick up a few people there?  It was about to leave so we had to find someone soon. The airport workers said we would probably get a few people on flights to Shreveport but not everyone would make it, certainly not on the flight that was about to go out. 


We began calling rental car companies to see about possibilities there.  Most were sold out because of all the cancellations.  I gathered the team and gave them the plan.  We would send one coach with as many players as could get on the next flight to campus.  We would choose based on seniority; our only senior, Brittany, would go first followed by Karolina, our only junior.  Bethany, Leslie, and Monique, the three sophomores, were next in line.  With that they headed down the corridor to grab some food – it had been a long time since breakfast.  After a moment I looked up to see Britt walking toward me.  She came back to say she wanted to stay behind.  Her first class was late the next day and some of the freshmen had class before hers.  If there were a Hall of Fame for great people Brittany would be a unanimous first ballot selection.  She never ceases to amaze me.  I sent her back down to eat and suddenly a voice behind the counter shouted “OK we’re ready.  Give me the names of the ones who are going.”  I called Bojan and told him to quickly send the older players back before they gave their seats to the other travelers on standby.  KC boarded with all the players except the freshmen and Britt.  Then the gate attendant said “We have room for one more.  Do you have someone ready?”  I looked up to see Anne strolling back to the gate so she was the lucky one.  She grabbed her backpack and headed down the runway. 


My phone rang: it was KC calling to say there were several empty seats on the plane.  I rushed over to the counter to ask about it.  The attendant looked at me like ..... well I guess it was a long day for her as well.   She explained with all the cancelled fights there were extra bags on board and the plane was over the weight limit.  The remaining flights were overbooked so the chances of the rest of us flying home that night were remote.  We decided our best bet was to catch a shuttle to the rental car area.  There were no vans available so we rented two cars and hit the road - just in time for the five o’clock traffic in downtown Dallas.  KC called about 5:30 to say the first contingent had made it home safely along with a few of our suitcases.  She gathered all the bags that were there and left them in the locker room for the next wave of travelers.  I stopped by the Shreveport airport around 8:15 to see if any other bags had made it in.  All were there except two – Sarah’s and Bojan’s (the one with Bethany’s books).   


There was a nice moment as the ones left behind walked away from our gate area.  A lady who had been sitting nearby walked over to Brittany and Ashley.  She noticed us when we came in because she knows someone who works at Centenary.  She told them she was very impressed by how well the girls behaved as we scrambled around trying to find a way home.  She also said she was going to call her friend to let her know she should be proud to have them representing her school.  I just smiled because I know what a terrific group of young ladies we have in our program.  I am very proud of them.  As our program develops and we begin to stack up victories, I hope we never lose sight of the importance of behaving properly and representing our school, teammates, and families in a first class manner.


See you next week.


Go Centenary!




Hello again from Centenary!


The travel schedule in our conference is challenging to say the least.  One of the things I like about the Summit League, however, is the different places we get to visit.  The first paragraph on the Centenary home page is a statement with three words highlighted (explore, invent, connect).  Our student-athletes definitely get to explore.   I have always believed travel is an important part of a person’s education.  It is one thing to read about different places, but quite another to actually visit them.  Last week we were in Northern Indiana and Detroit, and our girls got to experience snow and temperatures in the teens.  That’s a little different from Louisiana.  This week we are headed to Kansas City and Las Vegas.  Down the road we will visit Chicago, Indianapolis, Tulsa, and the Dakotas.  Seeing America is one of the best things about being a college athlete at Centenary.


Of course there are two sides to the story.  While it is good to visit these places, we also have to compete with the schools we are visiting.  The days are long and arduous; it’s not unusual to spend 10 hours on buses, on planes, and in airports.  One of the challenges is trying to work in practice around all the time on the road.  This year we are going to try something different; we are going to practice on Tuesdays after the Monday night games.  This will allow us to use Wednesday as our day off.  Usually coaches like to take the day after a game off then get back into action after that.  Our problem is that Tuesdays are travel days for us.  Last season many of our “off” days were spent traveling all day.  We would pull into the Gold Dome parking lot as late as 9 pm.  Then on Wednesday they would have to catch up on the class work they missed and get back on the practice floor.  So employing this season’s idea we headed back over to the gym at Oakland Tuesday morning at 8:30.  We had a decent practice before bussing back to the hotel to shower, pack, and ride to the airport.  We got home around 8:30 pm.  Monday was the first day of class for the spring semester, so they spent Wednesday going around meeting with their professors in addition to going to class. 


After two good days of work we had a game with IUPUI Saturday at 3 pm.  We went back and forth early, but soon we were done in by our turnovers.  This has been a constant problem in the last few games, and it is not getting any better.  It is not just one player struggling with them; it has run throughout the entire squad.  IUPUI played a defense we hadn’t seen before and we didn’t handle it very well.  The frustrating thing is there were openings we didn’t take advantage of.  Individually there were some bright spots, led by another good game from Anne.  The bottom line is we let an early lead get away, which resulted in another loss. 


Sunday we spent time watching film and practicing.  We have so much to learn, and this film session seemed to go pretty well.  The missed reads and assignments were there for all to see.  I know we are young but we as coaches have to teach better and the players have to learn better.  There are a lot of things we are missing that would make a big difference for us.  Monday night we hosted Western Illinois, who came into the game undefeated in league play and sporting a two-game lead in the standings.  They are another veteran team – almost all the players in their rotation are juniors and seniors.  They shoot the three-point shot very well, as we found out late in the first half.  We got off to a good start and grabbed an early lead.  About midway in the first half we were tied but then the floodgates opened.  They made three after three, ending the half making seven for ten.  That’s 21 points on ten possessions, which means if we had made ten consecutive lay-ups we would have been outscored by one.  They did a very good job of spreading us out, and they moved the ball extremely well, but hand in hand with that we didn’t do a good enough job of getting to their shooters.  They were up big at halftime and went on to a victory that was far too easy.  I can see us struggling with our confidence.  All the signs are there – the missed shots around the basket, the dribbles off our feet out of bounds, the errant passes and missed catches.  So here we are; a very young team at the crossroads.  My main concern is that we keep improving and grow into the team we can become.  It won’t be easy – and it shouldn’t be.  Competitive athletics is about what you do when things are going against you.  It’s fun when you win: everyone tells you how great you are, you have friends everywhere, life is one big smile.  But the true test in sports, as it is in life, is what you do when things get tough.  That’s where we are.  But I know our players are not happy with that, and they are going to do what is necessary to build this program into what we want it to be.


After the game with Western Illinois I was driving home with my dad, who was up for the weekend, and John, who recently celebrated his eighth birthday.   While in my usual post loss sulk I looked back at John and asked, “John, what did you think about Daddy’s game?”  Without missing a beat he responded, “It was pretty good Dad.  You just needed 30 more points.”  Aren’t kids the greatest thing in the world?  John, just like our team, still has a lot to learn.  See you next week.


Go Centenary!






I’m sure you are familiar with the saying “it’s a small world”.  We had living proof of that one day after practice last week.  Michael Bastian, former softball coach at Centenary, is now coaching the Chinese National Softball Team.  He was in Shreveport for a few days and stopped by the Gold Dome.  As most of you know Sarah was born in China and lived there until she moved to California a couple of years ago.  When Michael saw her walk by he said hello to her in Chinese.  She stopped in her tracks and her face lit up hearing her native language.  They began to talk about her home town, life over there, the Olympics coming up in Beijing, and even some people they both knew.  She signed a media guide for him to take back to his team.  They spent some time with Bojan in his office (when Bojan was in college his team took a tour of China).  As I walked by listening to three people talk about their experiences on the other side of the world, in stepped Karolina – from Poland!  Five people, four countries, and one passion – to compete in athletics at the highest level.  I guess it really is a small world.


Friday was one of the typical Summit League travel days.  We left the Gold Dome at 5:00 a.m. to catch a flight from DFW.  We boarded our flight for Indianapolis a little after ten and flew to Indianapolis.  After the usual wait for our luggage we got on a bus to Fort Wayne.  We stopped for lunch at Culver’s in Anderson, Indiana.  When we lived in Nebraska, Culver’s was one of Claire’s and my favorite stops for ice cream on the way home after games.  Of course, I had to call Claire to let her know the ice cream and pecans are just as good as ever (I know I shouldn’t, but she really likes them and I couldn’t resist the urge to rub it in a little) .  The restaurant is only a couple of miles from Regan Seybert’s house.  Regan was an All-SEC player for us at Ole Miss about 15 years ago.  Has it really been that long?  It seems like yesterday Coach Chancellor and I were in her living room trying to convince her to come south for college.  I guess I’m getting old.  After lunch it was on to our hotel.  We pulled in just before 5:00 p.m. – which gave us about an hour to get ready for practice. 


Saturday we had our first road game of the conference season.  IPFW jumped out to a quick lead and was up by as many as 17 in the first half.  I have to give our players credit though – they came out strong after halftime and played a stretch of very good basketball.  We took care of the ball, played excellent defense, and worked hard to get good shots.  With ten minutes to go in the game we were ahead by three.  Unfortunately Anne picked up her fourth foul on a block / charge call and we had to take her out.  The momentum swung back to them and they went on to hand us another loss.  I was very proud of how we fought back to give ourselves a chance to win.  There were some bright spots; Anne and Leslie had very good grades, and we outrebounded them by a pretty wide margin.  But we have to learn how to put 40 minutes together to be a good team. 


Anyone who knows me knows what a big football fan I am.  Practice was scheduled for 4:30 Sunday afternoon, which created quite a dilemma for me.  The bus was leaving at 4:15, and at 4:10 the Colts had just stopped the Chargers to get the ball back.  So here’s the situation: Peyton Manning has two minutes left, four points behind, with a chance to pull out a win in defense of their world championship.  Everything you want in a sporting event – star players, drama, excitement, pressure.  It was one of the great moments of the NFL season.  Or so I heard.


Igor Kokoskov, a friend of Bojan’s from Serbia, is an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons.  He is the first full-time, non-American coach in NBA history.  This fall the Pistons invited Bojan up to watch training camp for a few days.  While he was there he met the owners of a local restaurant.  They invited our team to have a traditional Serbian meal Sunday evening.  So after practice we had a very special treat.  There was chicken, pork, lamb, beef, fresh vegetables, great salads...I could go on and on.  All of it was good, as was the hospitality.  Earlier this year Bethany’s family had us over for a Cajun meal on the way down to Nicholls State.  It was excellent as well.  So in less than a month we’ve gone from South Louisiana gumbo to European style buffets.  Not bad, not bad at all. 


Monday night against Oakland we played without a doubt our worst game of the season.  They dominated us from the start and we never recovered enough to make it competitive.  They have a very good team, as evidenced by their close games with Auburn and Georgia and their win over Florida State.  But as I told our team in the locker room afterward this game was a lot more about us than them.  We have to learn to play harder, smarter, and sustain our good play longer.  After the game Igor was talking with us about their game against the Knicks the night before in New York.  Even though the Pistons are one of the best teams in the league, and the Knicks are one of the worst, they lost by about 30.  He told us Larry Brown always said you may not always win but you always have to try to get better.  That’s exactly where we are right now.  We only have a few days to get ready for IUPUI Saturday and Western Illinois Monday.  If you have a chance, come down to the Dome and see how we do.  Talk with you again soon.


Go Centenary!!




Hello again from Centenary


We rang in the New Year with a steady dose of basketball practice.  After our win against Sam Houston we took a day off and then settled back into the usual holiday routine.  We talk with our players often about what a good opportunity this is for us to progress, and as a group they have been working very hard to get better.  We are a little short handed – Cierra had her ACL surgery and is going into her rehab full speed ahead.  That means we are down to nine bodies in practice until Jasmine gets back at the start of the semester.  Those nine are putting the additional time to good use though.  Even with practices twice a day, some are coming by to get in a little extra work.  That’s a very good sign for our future.


When I walked into practice Monday morning Bethany asked “Where’s your LSU stuff, Coach?”  Her family has had season tickets to LSU football for years and she was ready for the big game.  I’m sure she was worried when they were down 10-0 but she said she knew they were going to win all along.  We are trying to schedule a game in the CenturyTel Center with LSU next season and it looks like it may happen.  Hopefully we can get all the details worked out.  Not everyone here was for LSU though – Bill Ballard, Centenary’s VP for Finance and Administration, is Ohio State through and through.  His colleagues have been giving him a hard time since the match up was announced, and I’m sure it hasn’t been any better for him since the game ended. 


Monday was also Mattie’s birthday.  When the alarm clock went off that morning there was a tap on my shoulder as I hit the snooze button.  My first thought was, “C’mon Claire, it’s your turn to take the dog out.”  (We got the kids a seven week old Shih Tzu for Christmas).  When I rolled over there was Mattie with a big smile on her face.  Before I could say anything she yelled “Daddy I’m six years old!”  What a way to start the day.  I always say this but it’s true - children are the best thing in the world.


One of the last things I do each night is log onto the Caring Bridge website ( to see how Matthew Campbell is doing.  When I first came to Centenary a lot of people were very helpful to my family and me.  Claire and I decided we wanted to build a home but we needed a place to live during the construction.  Centenary’s Director of Facilities, Francine Campbell, went out of her way to help us find a faculty house on campus and was there right away whenever something needed fixing.  That’s just Francine, she is the kind of person you can count on whenever you need something taken care of.  She was the recipient of the President’s Excellence Award at Centenary in 2007.   Her son Matthew, an eighth grader, has been very ill for quite some time.  He recently underwent a heart transplant and is recovering at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  He has a long, uphill, battle, and some days are better than others, but he seems to be slowly getting better.  You can read about Matthew on the Shreveport Times website (search Matthew Campbell), or for more updated information you can read their family’s journal at the Caring Bridge site.  Either way please say a prayer for Matthew and his family - I cannot imagine going through anything remotely like what they are dealing with.  Their strength is amazing.


And now for the basketball.  Oral Roberts was picked to win our league this year and we knew they would be a big challenge for us.  They play one of the most aggressive trapping defenses in the league but I thought we were ready for it.  Unfortunately before we could settle down they were out to a 16-2 lead.  We finally relaxed and played some good basketball, so much so that with five minutes to go we were within eight and had a chance to win.  We didn’t play well down the stretch and ended up losing 77-57.  Our defense let us down, in fact it was one of the worst defensive performances we’ve had in a game since I’ve been here.  Several Ladies played well - Bethany, Michelle, Ashley, Sarah, and Anne all had above average grades.  We have to play better when the opponent has the ball to be successful however.  We also have to become more consistent.  We actually outscored ORU for the middle thirty minutes but were outplayed badly in the first five and last five.


We are on the road this weekend for the first conference road trip of the season.  We fly to Fort Wayne, Indiana to play IPFW Saturday.  Then it’s on to Detroit to play Oakland University Monday night.  IPFW is a new addition to the league and they are playing well.  Oakland won the regular season title last year and is very good again.  Both games will be challenging, but it is time for us to go out and get a league win.  I’ll be back next week to let you know how we did.  Until then have a great start to 2008.


Go Centenary!!




Hello again from Centenary.


I often talk about the sacrifices college basketball players make to play the game they love, and another example of this is going on across America as I write.  While 99% of college students are spending time between semesters with their families those who play basketball are hard at work.  The Centenary Ladies reconvened on the afternoon of December 26th to begin preparing for the second half of our season.  The first order of business was to make sure Santa had visited everyone.  I felt like most of them were on the ‘nice’ side of the ledger but I was worried a couple may have been in the ‘naughty’ column.  I shouldn’t have been concerned, St. Nick made it to see everyone and they all enjoyed their Christmas.  Centenary is very fortunate to have such an outstanding group of young ladies represent our school.  As long as Santa doesn’t consider defense or rebounding for the naughty file, they should be fine.


That first night went the way most do; not everyone was ready to put the holiday behind them and get on with the business of basketball.  I always like to give the players five days off for Christmas – the season is long enough and this gives them a chance to get away, recharge the batteries, and spend time with people they care about a great deal but don’t get to see much during the school year.  The flip side of this is it takes a little longer to work off the turkey and get back to the task at hand.  We practiced Wednesday at four, Thursday and Friday twice (ten and four), then once Saturday and once Sunday to get ready for Sam Houston State.  It’s just our version of Holiday on the Hardwood.  None of us were happy with the last game before Christmas, and the players put in a good week of work to make sure we were going to make things better. 


Not everything during the holidays was good however.  The MRI on Cierra’s knee revealed a female basketball player’s worst fear – she had torn her ACL during the McNeese State game.  C’s year was off to a great start; she was in the top ten in the league in scoring, rebounding, and assists.  Had she continued to play at this level, she would have been a first team All-Conference player for sure. 


There are several things that are not fun for a coach but telling a player she’s torn her ACL is right at the top of the list.  She spent the fall waking up for conditioning at six in the morning.  She fought through two-a-day practices, weight sessions, sprints, and everything else to be able to succeed at this time of year.  With one sudden step her season is gone, and she will have to spend this winter and spring rehabbing her knee so she can go through it all again next year.  But she is a terrific young lady, and I have no doubt she is ready to do what she has to do to join her teammates as soon as possible.  More importantly, she will also continue to excel in the classroom and get a degree from Centenary that will make her life after basketball as good as it can be.  Everyone knows they have to do a little more to make up for the loss of Cierra, but I am confident we are capable enough to get the job done. 



On New Year’s Eve at 2 p.m. we took the court for only the second time in 21 days to play a game.  We had been through exams, holidays, and practices and were ready to see how we would do against someone else. I was optimistic since we had practiced pretty well at the end of the week.  We also decided to start Bethany for the first time this season.  She has been one of our most consistent and best players all fall but we liked the spark she could give us coming off the bench.  After going back and forth it just came down to the fact she has earned the right to start.  It turned out to be the right move, at least for now. 


We got off to a slow start but hit our stride and managed to break out to a good lead (36-22) at halftime.  The margin got as high as 27 and we ended up winning by the score of 74-62.   Our defense was excellent for the first 32 minutes but not as good for the last eight.  We have to learn to finish games off better, but figuring out how to protect a big lead is a good problem to have.  Let’s hope we have it more often.  Several players had better than average grades led by Bethany (she also tied a school record for three pointers in a game with six), Sarah, Ashley, and Anne.  As a team we had 19 assists on 21 baskets, which means we were sharing the basketball.  That statistic (assists) is a pretty good indicator of how we are playing – if we don’t have many we are trying to do too much one on one.


Now it’s on to the meat of the conference season.  Preseason favorite Oral Roberts comes to the Gold Dome Saturday at three so we better be ready to go.  They are big, they are strong, and they can shoot.  This is the first half of a doubleheader with our men, so if you are near King’s Highway come on in and see how the Ladies are faring.  If not, as always, I’ll keep you posted on how we do.




Hello again from Centenary


Last Thursday was one of those ‘typical’ days for college basketball players.  We got in from our gut-wrenching double overtime loss at McNeese Wednesday night about 2:30 a.m.  The players had to put that behind them and get up for early morning classes followed by practice at 11:00.  Five players had played more than 37 minutes the night before, led by Anne with 46 and Karolina with 40.  About halfway through practice I saw Karolina had something on her mind, and when I asked her about it she told me she had a big economics exam at 12:30.  As we were running our closing sprints I noticed several ladies straining, and quite a few visited with Dustin (our trainer) as soon as we finished.  We needed two days of preparation for our conference opener Saturday against North Dakota State, but looking back on it we probably would have been better off not practicing.


At the end of regulation against McNeese, Cierra made a nice defensive play to force a miss and send the game into overtime.  However, in doing so she landed awkwardly and injured her knee.  She sat out both overtimes, and has missed every game and practice since then.  She is doing a good job of supporting her teammates while they are working, and I can see in her eyes how much she wants to be out there.  We are still waiting on the result of an MRI to determine how long she will be out of the lineup.  We miss her on the court, but while she is out everyone else (coaches included) will have to do whatever we can to fill in the gap losing her creates.


Thursday night Claire and I attended the Independence Bowl Team Announcement Party at the I-Bowl.  We joined the Independence Bowl Foundation this summer as a way to get more involved with the community and meet people who live here and love sports.  It was a fun evening; Nick Saban told a story about losing to UAB during his first season at LSU, and Coach Hawkins of Colorado talked a little about coaching his son at quarterback.  While Alabama vs. CU should be a very good game, I’ll have to admit I was pulling for a few other teams to get here instead.  From the SEC I would have enjoyed seeing my buddies at Mississippi State, and I still have several friends from my two Big XII stops – Texas A&M and Nebraska.  Oh well, maybe next year.  I met several people with Centenary connections and enjoyed my conversations with them, but the highlight of the evening was the crab claws from a local restaurant.  Well, it was Claire’s highlight anyway.  She has already talked with the owner about catering some whenever we have people over. 


Whether it was the nervousness of the first conference game or the trepidation of playing without our leading scorer, we got off to a shaky start Saturday against North Dakota State.  At about the twelve minute mark Bethany was driving to the basket and stepped on someone’s foot, spraining her ankle.  Just what we needed, right?  We hung in there and with four minutes to go in the half we were down by six.  Over the next three and a half minutes we gave up fourteen straight points and found ourselves down by 20.  Again we fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win before losing by five.  We outscored them for 36 minutes only to lose the game during that four minute span.  I told our team in the locker room, “You know I love Cierra and Bethany, but do not think that had anything to do with us not winning this game.  We don’t make excuses, and the players who were in there were good enough to get a victory.  We just have to eliminate our mistakes.”  Several players had outstanding grades led by Monique, Ashley, and Karolina.


After a light workout and film session Sunday we were back out there to take on South Dakota State Monday night.  Even though we missed several close shots early in the game we were up four late in the half.  At halftime we were down by one, and we started the second half again missing some shots from around the basket.  Our young players are adjusting to the physicality of the game at this level, and we are talking a lot about how we have to be strong enough to score against contact.  This is college basketball, and just because you get bumped doesn’t mean it’s going to be a foul.  This time the opponent’s run came late, and what was a tight game with six minutes to play became a 16-point loss.  The final score was not indicative of the closeness of the game.  Our better than average grades came from Leslie, Karolina, and Sarah.  Like I told our guys afterward, SDSU has wins over some outstanding programs in the last few years.  That list includes Kentucky, Alabama, Southern California, and Oregon.  They won 25 games last season and advanced deep into the WNIT.  If we can play with them we can play with anyone.  And when we reduce our mistakes we will beat them.


We are approaching a critical portion of our season.  We don’t play again until the 20th at Nicholls State, and then we have several days before we play Sam Houston State on the 31st.  That gives us three weeks with only one game, so we need to focus on getting better at the fundamentals and more consistent with our play.  Of course we have final exams as well, so the players will have more than enough to occupy their time.  Check back next week and I’ll let you know what is happening with your Ladies. 


Go Centenary




Hello again everyone,


The past week was one that reminds me of a line of poetry I learned in my younger days:  For all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, “it might have been”.  That sums our week up perfectly.  We had two games with in-state opponents, and each of them got away from us. 


We had been looking forward to Saturday’s game in the CenturyTel Center for quite some time.  There were a variety of reasons for this.  This building is one of the finest arenas in the country.  I have coached in SEC and Big XII tournaments around the country, and CenturyTel is as good as or better than any of the facilities we used for those.  It would be a great place to host a conference tournament or even an NCAA regional.  It was good for our players to get the feel of what one of those is like, because the goal here is for us to develop our program into one that will participate in the NCAA Tournament soon.  I have been fortunate to coach in a few of those, and hopefully our players will learn what a great experience it is to play in that environment.  It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to make that happen though.


In the first game we scored first but then Lafayette went on a run to take a thirteen point lead.  Our team has a tendency to get impatient and take too many quick shots during these runs.  It’s almost like we are trying too hard and want to make good things happen.  When we take our time and move the ball (and ourselves) we are pretty good offensively.  We got back within two but had a breakdown and went to halftime down 10.  With five minutes to play we were within two, but we had a miscommunication and left a shooter wide open and just like that we’re down five.  We ended up losing by seven to a team that returns six seniors from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, but it was a chance to make a statement about where our program is headed that we let get away.


ULL is coached by one of my best friends, Errol Rogers.  We coached together at Mississippi State and shared a lot of good times.  We spoke briefly before the game, but afterward we spent about 30 minutes in the green room talking about each other’s team’s strengths and weaknesses.  We were also watching the USC-UCLA football game because Errol is one of America’s biggest USC fans.  In fact his son, Errol Jr., really believes he is Reggie Bush.  I remember him running around the court at MSU with his Reggie Bush jersey on at the age of three with a big smile on his face.  He and his wife Damita have six children with the youngest three being the same age as mine.  I don’t know how they do it, it’s all Claire and I can do to keep our three halfway in line.  Damita has had some health issues lately so she and the kids didn’t make it to the game but John, Mattie, and Katie were looking for them.  


The second half of the doubleheader was our men’s victory over Texas Tech.  Our guys did a great job of hanging in there and pulled out a great win over one of the best programs in the nation.  It just shows what can happen at Centenary – I talk to alumni often and am always impressed by their love for our school.  They talk of NCAA tournaments, the Gold Dome full of fans cheering and screaming, and the excitement the college and city had for our athletic programs.  We are working to bring those times back.


Tuesday night we went to Lake Charles to take on McNeese State.  We got out to an early lead, but as always there were lapses that cost us dearly.  In the second half, we were down by as many as nine but Bethany hit a shot to give us a five point lead with just under four minutes to play.  Then we made the exact same mistake that we had made when we were within two against ULL to give up an open three to bring them within two.  


They ended up forcing overtime, and we had a couple of chances to win again at the end of the first extra period, but two close shots in the final five seconds rolled just off the rim.  McNeese jumped to a seven point lead early in the second overtime, but I have to give our players credit – they are battling.  We fought back and took a one point lead with just under a minute to play.  We stopped them on the next possession, but we didn’t secure the rebound and they took advantage of their second opportunity to hit the game winning basket.  We got a good look to pull it out it as the buzzer went off but in the words of Tim Brando, the iron was unkind.  So what could have been a great ride home was another one of what might have been. 


This week the Dakotas are coming to town.  We host North Dakota State in a doubleheader with the men Saturday at 3:00 pm followed by South Dakota State Monday night at 7:00.  These are two great additions to our league.  They are two outstanding athletic departments – in addition to a terrific women’s basketball program NDSU has a football victory over Minnesota this year, and SDSU has road wins in women’s basketball in recent years over Kentucky, Southern California, Alabama, Oregon, and several other top programs.  Each will be challenging for us, so come on out and see how we do.  If you can’t make it, I’ll let you know how we do.  See you next week.


Go Centenary!




Hello again from Centenary!


A reality of college basketball is players miss a lot of the holidays most people get to enjoy with their families.  This Thanksgiving was no different; while 90% of Americans were getting ready for their feast we gathered in the Gold Dome at 9:30 am to begin preparations for Southeastern Louisiana.  For an hour and a half there were no visions of turkey and cranberry sauce.  They were replaced by thoughts of screening angles, post moves, and defensive rotations.  Luckily for us Claire and our moms were hard at work in our kitchen preparing the usual Thanksgiving fare.  When I walked in after practice her mother was making home made rolls from scratch while mine was finishing off her dressing.  The team arrived at 1 p.m. to find the following: turkey, ham, a turducken, two types of dressing, cranberry sauce, butterbeans, macaroni and cheese, peas, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole....well you get the idea.  When the first car arrived and our front door opened I heard Anne say “oh, it smells like Thanksgiving”. We had a great meal, lots of smiles, and while the players missed the holiday with their real families at least they had their basketball family to spend the day with.  The food was great and the fellowship was even better.  Thanks Granny, Grandma, and Claire.  You did great.


There were signs of progress in the Southeastern game Saturday.  We played well in the first half and went into the locker room with a lead.  It was the kind of game I love to coach in.  It was a battle all the way – the lead went back and forth with neither team able to lead by more than six.  Our offense was the best it’s been, and our defense was pretty good, but our rebounding was terrible.  They stayed in the game with second shots.  With just under 30 seconds to go Bethany hit a three to give us the lead again.  But we lost their best shooter in transition and she hit a big shot to give them the win.  Being a coach and athlete is crazy.  Think about it - the ball is in the air with five seconds to play and all our emotions are in the air with it.  If it goes in we are in agony, and if it bounces off we’re ecstatic.  This time it went in, and there were tears in the locker room as a result.  I can see our team growing up, but it needs to come sooner rather than later.  


On the way to Hammond my mind drifted to an autumn morning a few years ago.  It was during the September recruiting period while I was coaching at The University of Nebraska.  I had gotten home on a late flight the night before and had a visit set up at a junior college later that afternoon.  As was my custom then, I woke up and walked downstairs to listen to the radio while I ate breakfast.  The announcer said a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.  I thought it was an accident, maybe a local pilot losing control of his aircraft or something like that.  I went upstairs to shower and get dressed.  When I came back down the announcer reported a plane had just crashed into the other tower.  Obviously this was no accident.  I got in my car and began the two hour drive through the corn fields to Cloud County Community College.  I was on the way to meet with Miklannet Tennal, a terrific guard who played at Cloud, and watch her practice later that afternoon.  Instead we sat together with Bret Erkenbrack, her coach, and watched the towers fall.  At that moment basketball seemed like the least important thing in the world.  Mick decided to go to Texas Tech instead of Nebraska, but in my mind we’ll always be linked.  She is now an assistant coach at Southeastern Louisiana, and every time I see her I think of that day.


Tuesday Northwestern State came to town.  We weren’t nearly as good offensively in this game but we did enough to go into the locker room at halftime with a 13 point lead.  The first four minutes of the second half has been problematic for us and this game was no exception.  They cut the lead to six but we regrouped and with just under four minutes to play we were up 12.  At that point the wheels came off.  We had a stretch of nothing but turnovers and fouls, a recipe for disaster if ever there was one.  They scored 13 points in a row to take the lead, but our players would not be denied.  Monique hit a jump shot with about 15 seconds to play and they called timeout.  They went to their best player, but Cierra got terrific position and blocked her shot.  Anne grabbed the rebound and the buzzer sounded, giving us the victory. 


The triumph over Northwestern State was big for us.  We want to establish ourselves as a program the people in this area can be proud of and get behind.  As I often say this is a great place to live, and Centenary is a marvelous school, so we are working hard to give the Ark-La-Tex a basketball program they can support.  Games with local rivals give us a chance to show we are making progress.   


And so it’s on to the next week.  We play Louisiana-Lafayette in the Centurytel Center Saturday at 3 p.m.  They made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team last season, which means they were chosen by the committee as one of the best teams in the country.  Lafayette is coached by Errol Rogers, who was an assistant at Mississippi State while I was there.  It will be good to see him again; he is one of my best friends in the coaching fraternity.  His six children spent lots of time with John, Mattie, and Katie, so hopefully they will see each other before and after the game.  After we play, our men’s team takes on Texas Tech, and I’ve heard Tech has a pretty good coach.  It should be a great afternoon of basketball, so come on out and watch the Ladies and Gents in action.  Hope to see you there.


Go Centenary!





Hello again everyone


The NCAA requires us to take one day off each week and last week ours was Wednesday.  About 2:30 that afternoon I walked into our locker room and turned on the light.  From across the way I heard a voice say “Hey Coach”.  It was Ashley Jackson – she had been napping on the couch.  She explained she had been up late finishing a paper after we got in from Monroe Tuesday night, and there was a lot of commotion in the dorm (imagine that) so she decided to come to the locker room to catch up on her sleep.  I don’t think people appreciate how much goes into being a college athlete.  It takes a lot of dedication, perseverance, and desire to put your mind and body through everything it takes to succeed at this level.  There’s no doubt it’s worth it however. 


Thursday was a busy day for me.  We had practice at 6:00 am, and after my usual post practice discussion with Bojan and KC (who’s playing well, who’s struggling, what we should work on more, etc.) I left for Stockwell Elementary.  Mattie’s kindergarten class had a Thanksgiving Feast at 9:00 a.m. with songs, sketches, and last but not least food.  From there it was back to the Gold Dome to go through some film of the previous two games with our players at 11:00 a.m.  After 45 minutes of study it was off to Cypress Run pre-school for Katie’s Thanksgiving Feast.  Claire spent most of the night before making Pilgrim hats from cookies, marshmallows, and chocolate.  They were a hit at both places.   I say this all the time, but the smiles on Mattie and Katie’s faces when I showed up are what life is all about.  I can’t believe how fast they are growing up.


After a couple of good practice days we hit the court Saturday afternoon against Birmingham-Southern.  We broke out to an early 26-12 lead but followed that up with a period of sloppy play to let them get close at halftime.  We opened the second half by extending the lead to 11, but once again our mistakes cost us.  There is so much we need to learn.  We get out of position on defense, and we don’t make the appropriate read on offense all the time, but there are moments of pretty good basketball.  We were up eight with about five minutes to go but we made it fairly exciting at the end.  However, Anne set a nice backscreen for Bethany and Cierra found her for a lay-up to help us get our first ‘real’ victory of the season.  The players did a good job of keeping their poise at the end which is a good sign of things to come.  Cierra had an excellent grade, which will happen every time she moves well without the basketball.


Monday morning we headed down to McAllen, Texas, to play Texas-Pan American.  They have a veteran team with lots of experience that handled us fairly easily last season.  Once again we had some stretches of pretty good basketball mixed in with a few stretches of less than stellar play.  I believe basketball is a game of mistakes, with the team making the fewest usually coming out the winner.  This has been the case for us this season.  The unforced turnovers, the missed blockouts, and the lapses on defense are keeping us from having any success right now.  We were down five with six minutes to play, but some silly fouls, bad decisions, and sloppy ballhandling added up to a ten point loss.  They played a couple of defenses we hadn’t seen in a game yet, and it took us a little time to get our bearings against them.  Once we did we played fairly well from there.  I know I am writing the same thing every week but we just have some growing up to do.


This week brings Thanksgiving.  Take a moment to remember things you are thankful for.  I have so many things – a wonderful wife, three beautiful kids, the privilege of coaching this group of young ladies, the two people I am coaching with.... I could go on and on.  In addition we have games Saturday at SE Louisiana and Tuesday in the Gold Dome with Northwestern State.  Tuesday is a doubleheader with our men, so if you get the chance come on down to Kings Highway and watch a couple of rivals go at it starting at 5:00 pm.  Hope to see you then.


Go Centenary!




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




Welcome back everyone!


Wednesday night I left trick or treating early and headed to our annual Halloween Hoopla in the Gold Dome.  There were several activities going on outside before everyone came in to check out the ’07 – ’08 version of the Ladies and Gents.  The guys had a “scrimmage” that was right out of the And 1 basketball tour (if you don’t know what that is consider yourself lucky - it’s basketball’s version of professional wrestling).  The barrage of dunks got the crowd going and we followed it with some shooting contests involving our players and a few Centenary students.  Then came the dunk contest, won by Nick Stallings.  The winning dunk featured Ladies basketball player Monique Jefferson sitting on a chair in the lane.  She tossed a pass into the air as Nick ran toward her.  He soared over her head, caught the ball and slammed it in.  I was a little nervous but it was a nice assist.


Thursday at noon we had a C-Club luncheon with the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams.  Most of the local media was there in addition to members of the C-Club, Centenary faculty, and administration.  Our players introduced themselves and did a great job, as always.  Watching them reminded me again how fortunate we are to have such a terrific group of young ladies representing our school.  Then Coach Flaska and I said a few words about the upcoming season.  Each of us will be very young but both programs are moving in the right direction. 


Thursday night was the first time we had an opportunity to play against outside competition.  We scrimmaged three halves against East Texas Baptist and for the most part things went pretty well.  I like to script playing time in these situations to make sure we see all the combinations we need to see and everyone plays enough to be evaluated.    One of the best things about Thursday’s scrimmage was seeing one of my former players for the first time in a couple of years.  Ebonie Ferguson played a key role on some NCAA and WNIT teams at Mississippi State and is now an assistant coach at ETBU.  She has always wanted to coach and is doing a good job for Coach Bowen over there.  We had a few laughs about old times, especially how much she ‘enjoyed’ one of my favorite drills as a player. 


While there were quite a few big football games this weekend there was one that stood out above the others.  LSU – Alabama?  Nope.  Colts – Patriots? No big deal. Saints on a roll against the Jaguars?  I’m one of the biggest Saints fans in the world but the biggest game for me was the Stallions thrilling playoff semifinal in the Bossier City seven and eight year old league.  It was close, but thanks to a late defensive stand the Stallions are on their way to the title game.  So Saturday, before we get on a bus to go to Starkville and open our season, I’ll be on the sidelines watching my son John and his teammates going for the championship.  Life is pretty good.


Tuesday we had an exhibition against LSU-Shreveport.  There were the usual first game jitters early on but we worked our way through them.  It was an opportunity to see different combinations in action and to see where we stand as we get ready for the season.  All 11 players saw action, and each of them contributed in their own way to our win.  The game showed us some areas that need a little more attention; you always find out more by playing someone else than you do scrimmaging with each other.  As I suspected our defense and rebounding need to get much better, and we have to cut back on the turnovers.  Individually, several players did well with five (Leslie, Cierra, Ashley, Bethany, and Sarah) having terrific grades for the night.  As a team we had one of the best grades we’ve had since I’ve been here, so all in all it was a decent effort for the first time out.  Needless to say we still have a long way to go to be where we want to be.


So just like that the season is here.  There are questions everywhere.  Can our players ever learn the correct angles on our screens?  Will we support each other when the adversity arrives?  Will we put what’s good for the team ahead of our individual wishes?  Can we guard anybody?  This will be a challenging week with games Sunday at Mississippi State and Tuesday at Louisiana-Monroe.  The State game will be especially interesting for me since I helped recruit and know almost their entire team.  I’m not sure we are ready, but at this point but that’s irrelevant; it’s time to play.  Come back next Wednesday and I’ll let you know how we did.  See you then.


Go Centenary!




Hello everyone.


I’m Steve Curtis, Head Coach of the Centenary Ladies basketball team.  This is the first in a series of columns that I’ll be posting regularly throughout the season.  It will cover  a combination of things – our student athletes, our coaches, our families.  There will be some joyful stories of victory and some sad stories of defeat.  Primarily, I would like to give you a little insight into what life is like as a collegiate athlete and coach.  I hope you enjoy it.


I am fortunate to have two terrific people coaching with me here at Centenary.  Bojan Jankovic is an excellent coach who has international experience as well as playing and coaching here in America.  KC Cowgill was a terrific player in college for our Nebraska teams and has everything you are looking for in a coach.  Each is the type of person that will be excellent for my children to grow up around.


Speaking of my children expect to read a lot about them in the coming months.  John is learning the joys of football at the ripe old age of seven.  As I write this, he is getting ready for his playoff game tonight.  Seven year old playoff football, what could be better than that?  I also have two daughters – Mattie, five, is in kindergarten and Katie, four, is in preschool.  Nothing makes the missed layups seem tolerable like their shouts of “Daddy’s home” when I open the door and walk in.  I have also been blessed with the perfect wife in Claire.  Can it really be __ years since she “accidentally” left her purse in my car?  Time flies when you’re having fun. 


Our players come from all over the globe.  They are a terrific group that has been working hard to bring Centenary Basketball to a different level.  September went something like this:  Conditioning Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at six a.m.  Weights Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:30, and individual workouts mixed in between classes for a couple of hours each week.  On October 12th we started having official practices and those have gone pretty well for the most part.  There is still a lot to do, but I like the way we are progressing.


Our roster includes two seniors (Brittany Barbee and Ricquel Crockrom), two juniors (Cierra Bush and Karolina Zaloga), four sophomores (Monique Jefferson, Jasmine Bothwell, Leslie Forest, and Bethany Joseph), and four freshmen (Ashley Jackson, Anne Farrell, Sarah Weiler, and Michelle Hale).  Each has a unique story and perspective.  There are experiences ranging from All State athletic careers to nights as Prom Queen.  They share a common goal – to bring championship caliber basketball to the Ark-La-Tex. 


Shreveport – Bossier City is a great place to live, and Centenary is an outstanding academic institution.  With a bit of luck we can work together to develop a basketball program to make our community proud. 


See you again soon.


Go Centenary!