From all indications, the GW women’s basketball team, which replaced its four graduated seniors with a highly touted freshman class, is advancing faster than last year’s team did at this point. And the freshmen are having no problem with the pace of practice.
Junior Erica Lawrence said the team is adding more plays and strategies, which indicates head coach Joe McKeown is not bringing his young team along slowly.
“Practice is going really well so far,” Lawrence said. “We’ve been putting in more things as far as offenses, defenses, out-of-bounds plays. We’re really moving along, we’re on a good track.”
Lawrence said the upperclassmen are helping the six freshman learn plays.
“They’re looking really great right now, and they’re really focused,” she said. “The older players are helping them out, and they’ll be ready.”
McKeown said he was impressed with how quickly freshmen shooting guard Kelly Wright and forward Anna Montanana have learned the plays.
“Kelly Wright is very mature in her attitude and outlook,” he said.
The Colonial Women come into this season with higher expectations than last year’s team, which made its earliest exit from the NCAA Tournament than any Colonial team. But Kara McVey, an assistant coach, said this team is progressing faster than that team.
“I think for the second week of practice, we’re much further along than we were last year,” McVey said.
After two weeks of basketball, the atmosphere at men’s practice represents a 180-degree turnaround from the days of Tom Penders. An animated coach Karl Hobbs does not hesitate slamming his hands down on a scoring table after a missed three-pointer or botched lay-up.
The team held an open practice attended by about 100 people Friday evening. Hobbs said his players are learning the system, and that upperclassmen are at no greater advantage than freshmen. “The problem is, every single thing we’re doing is new,” Hobbs said. “There is not one drill I think that we’re doing this year that we did last year. Everything is new, everything is organized, everything is quick. They’re all learning.”
Hobbs said he has been impressed with senior Jaason Smith and is going to push the NCAA to allow Smith an extra year of eligibility. Smith sat out the final month his freshman year because of an abdominal hernia.
Hobbs showcased his attenttion to detail when he reminded the team, and crowd about J.R. VanHoose, a 6-foot-10 center/forward ranked third in the nation in rebounding and was tied for most double doubles in the nation. Hobbs promised his team would “leave nothing on the floor,” both in practice and in the games. “Cause if they don’t, I’ll kill ’em,” he said.