Basketball Preview Issue
At first glance, things didn’t seem to be so different during the women’s basketball team’s recent exhibition game. The ball was brought up the court by an energetic, ponytailed point guard wearing the number five jersey, just as it had been done the past four years.
But Kim Beck, one of the best players in program history, was wearing street clothes. The recent graduate was watching one of her replacements, freshman Tiana Myers, direct the team.
Last year, the team flourished under the leadership of seniors Beck, Sarah Jo Lawrence and Whitney Allen. Players, coaches and fans knew what to expect from the team and that group of players, but the same can’t be said for this class. With six of the 14 players on the squad true freshmen, the conclusion is unavoidable: The freshmen have to step up and contribute. Immediately.
“They have to grow up fast,” senior Jessica Adair said. “There’s a sense of urgency for the seniors, but we need relief too.”
Jessica’s sister, senior Jazmine Adair, has recognized a change in the team dynamic. In her previous three seasons, chemistry has been, if anything, a secondary concern. Coach Joe McKeown’s system had deep roots, so older players could teach new ones its intricacies. This year, with seniors learning new head coach Mike Bozeman’s faster-paced system, anything is possible.
“It’s a lot different because we never had to focus or work on chemistry because the chemistry was always there,” Jazmine Adair said. “There are a lot of different personalities on this team so it’s been kind of hard for the most part.”
The Colonials found out exactly how much work had to be done during their Nov. 5 exhibition game against the DT-3 All-Stars, a collection of former college players. GW committed 28 turnovers during the 71-66 loss and looked out of synch throughout.
Bozeman said the team had good opportunities during the game, but did not execute when necessary – a problem he attempted to address by watching the game tape three times the next day.
The team’s freshmen share his urgency. Freshman Tara Booker knows there are high expectations for the group to continue the team’s recent success, which includes two straight Sweet 16 berths. Myers, like Beck, has become a leader within her class, and she does not want to lower the bar set by the seniors.
“We need to contribute as freshmen to help them,” Myers said.
But the team is aware that because there are so many freshmen, there will be times when older players will have to get in the ears of younger players and remind them what is on the line. Bozeman feels the seniors understand their leadership role, referencing a recent post-practice speech by one senior who fervently denounced the team’s lack of intensity.
“I wanted to jump up and start playing,” Bozeman said.
Speeches like that, combined with time, may be the best way of preventing a schism.
“I think we’re getting there. It’ll come,” Jazmine Adair said. “Slowly, but surely.”