Written by: Chris Kessler
Basketball season is right around the corner, and the VSU Lady Blazers have high expectations of winning the Gulf South Conference.
“I think we can compete,” Head Coach Kiley Hill said. “Can we win it? You just never know. You got to have some breaks, but we can be in a position to do some very positive things. We have to stay healthy, we have to defend consistently night in and night out and we have to be able to score from the perimeter a lot. Those three things are the name of the game, but I think the biggest factor for us is to stay healthy. This team competes; it’s in their personalities to compete.”
Unfortunately, VSU is already suffering from injuries in the preseason.
“Right now the injury bug has hit us a little bit,” Hill said. “We only have six healthy bodies of fourteen right now. By mid-November/early December we’ll have everybody back. You name it, we’ve had it, but we’re going to have some kids back on the floor soon. It’s just a matter of us getting in shape and in rhythm.”
VSU comes off a 16-11 season in which the Lady Blazers finished .500 in the GSC at 9-9. Coach Hill’s squad returns seven players from last year, including junior standout Kourtnee Williams who averaged 13.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists a game last season. Williams was recently named to the preseason All-GSC team.
Familiar faces Jordan Waugh, Jocelyn Danley and Maylisa Johnson return to the team after red-shirting last season. The Lady Blazers also welcome four newcomers to the program: transfers Amy Duke, April Thomas and Maggie Davis along with the team’s lone freshman, Reshaundra Owens.
“Amy brings a ton of versatility; she’s been playing a ton for us until her injury,” Hill said. “April can go score a ton – proven ability on that. Maggie is a highly intelligent player; she’s just got to get herself on the court and in shape. Reshaundra has been playing; she’s been healthy, so it’s been all good for her.”
Despite the loss of last season’s leading scorer, Brittney Nelson, Coach Hill believes his veteran team can have a successful year.
“I feel good,” Hill said. “We have a lot of experience. Kourtnee Williams has the experience of a senior, Kamyia Smith played a lot of minutes for us last year, Jordan Waugh is back on the floor, Mayia Johnson is back on the floor, (and) Brooke Satterfield is coming back off her ACL tear. We have a chance to be very good because of the experience.”
The Lady Blazers we’re plagued last season on the court by turnovers, three-point shooting and lack of depth, but Coach Hill expects that with a deep and hopefully healthy roster, his team will improve in those areas.
“We’ve made some adjustments to fit our players better,” Hill said. “I think the turnovers and three-point shooting just came down to fatigue and lack of numbers. We were playing kids over thirty minutes a game, and it was a struggle.”
The Lady Blazers tip off the season at home on Nov. 11 against Trinity Baptist.