The newly renovated Smith Center opened its doors to all fans, old and new, for a small preview of GW’s 2009-10 women’s basketball team Saturday morning.
Second-year head coach Mike Bozeman welcomed the small audience, which sat on the new seats in the old student section. Approximately 75 people witnessed the team run through a number of drills, followed by an exclusive tour of the new facilities underneath the basketball court and a free luncheon with Colonial giveaways.
Bozeman did not address any questions until the lunch, but he acknowledged his team’s inexperience as soon as he began to speak.
“This is absolutely the youngest team in the country,” Bozeman said. “If you’re not a freshman on this team, you’re a sophomore.”
The lone exception to that clause is redshirt junior forward Ivy Abiona, who has had her career stalled by several injuries.
Bozeman and his assistants showcased their 11 players with fast-break drills, several layup weaves and defensive sets. One weave the team ran involved three players passing a golf ball, followed by a tennis ball and finally a basketball to each other as they ran up and down the court. No dribbling was involved in the drill, as it simply aimed to improve the team’s hand-eye coordination.
After the two-hour practice officially ended, all fans were treated to a small tour of the new facilities, including the weight room, academic center and revamped swimming pool.
The free lunch commenced upstairs immediately afterward and while the crowd was shy at first, several kids in attendance began to ask the players questions.
When asked about the biggest differences between playing basketball in high school and college, freshman Megan Nipe discussed the intensity of the preseason.
“Sometimes you come to the point where you question if you can be here or not,” she said. “Once you get past that point, then you’re all good.”
One young girl asked the team what a regular day in their lives was like. She looked stunned, her eyebrows raised as sophomore guard Kay-Kay Allums described a routine that included getting up at 6:30 a.m. to work out and “hopefully finding time to sleep” at night after going to class and practicing for several hours each day.
Finally, Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Development Dom Perno highlighted alumna-turned-assistant coach, Kristeena Alexander, in an effort to show the crowd the commitment that people have shown toward GW women’s basketball.
Although he wasn’t the last person to speak, coach Bozeman’s words may have been the most endearing of all.
“Anything you guys need, I’m open to it,” Bozeman said as he addressed the room. “I appreciate you guys coming and I look forward to seeing you guys throughout the season.”
The women kick off their season on the road at North Texas Nov. 17 and play their first home game on Nov. 19 against Coppin State.