|Winning is UC girls’ only satisfaction now |
|Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011 7:03 pm |
|By MIKE HUTCHENS |
Messenger Sports Editor
In most past seasons, Union City girls were hopeful of being competitive.
This year, the Lady Tornadoes expect to be — and more.
UC returns two players instrumental in the team’s making it to the regional semifinals before falling just two points short of the program’s first-ever sectional berth last season while posting a 16-12 record.
Figure into the equation that those returnees —Amber Fair and Jackie Hudson — are only sophomores, and the reasoning for high expectations is obvious.
“I think it’s a good thing that both the kids and those who support the program expect us to win now,” third-year Lady Twister head coach Eddie Suiter said. “There’s nothing wrong with expectations, as long as they’re realistic. I’m not sure how we’ll handle the pressure that goes with those expectations, but we do have some potential.”
Suiter cautioned that the loss of four seniors, including starters Kierra Davis and Shenisha Huff, would be felt.
The coach also says he’s guarding against the so-called “sophomore jinx” that sometimes hampers players in their second season — in the case of Fair and Hudson.
“I don’t think that’ll be an issue, but they both have to continue to want to get better and not be satisfied with what they did last season,” Suiter said. “Obviously, they’re going to get more attention from other teams and how they defend them, but they have to continue to be assertive and want the ball in their hands at the most critical times of the game.”
Both Fair (5-10) and Hudson (5-8) averaged in double-figures points-wise at around a dozen per-game as freshmen, with each also close to that status in the rebounding department. Hudson played her best in the first part of the season before Fair carried a bigger part of the offensive load late.
Suiter said despite the inside prowess of the tandem last season, both could get some time in the backcourt this year as the Lady Tornadoes seek to answer questions at the guard spots.
“It’s a little complicated, but right now, putting the ball in their hands to bring it upcourt might be just as important as what Amber and Jackie do when we get into the halfcourt,” the coach said. “We certainly don’t want to take away from how active Jackie is inside and with her offensive rebounding, but we’ll make whatever adjustments we have to.
“We’re a little suspect with our ballhandling and with our playmaking skills.”
The Fair-Hudson duo will get some help this season in the form of junior transfer Tory Reedy.
Reedy (5-8), who saw action as a freshman on Gibson County’s 2010 Class 2A state championship team and was a starter for the Lady Pioneers a year ago, brings savvy, leadership and a nice skill set to the UC team.
She will play mostly in the frontcourt, but Suiter would not rule out the likelihood that Reedy could take a turn with the team’s ballhandling responsibilities.
Anna Moore (5-2, Sr.) is another returning starter from last year.
Moore has gotten extensive time in the backcourt each of the past two years and will give great effort that often-times doesn’t necessarily show up in the box score, according to Suiter.
Tamara Nettles (5-10, Soph.) is ticketed to start at center.
Depth will come from freshmen Kieesha Alexander (5-4), Kealie Reaves (5-3) and Raven Fair (5-6) in the backcourt, while Kaleigh Bynum (5-8, Soph.), Kristen Davis (5-8, Fr.) and six-foot senior KeKe Brown will come off the bench in the frontcourt.
Suiter said he squad is probably best-suited to play a halfcourt game, but he’d like to “get a little rush going” from time-to-time with the transition game.
“Because of our size and offensive rebounding potential, I’m hopeful we get a ton of second- and third-chance opportunities. But we’ve had a good offseason in both the weight room and with our conditioning, so I think we’ll be comfortable at times running up and down the floor.
“People have always said we’ve had athletes here, and that’s not always been the case. This year, I feel we do, and if we can utilize that and get some vocal leadership from some folks, I like what we could do.”
UC’s 2011-12 season begins tonight with a home game vs. Chester County.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. Published in The Messenger 11.17.11