Women’s basketball prepares for season

Monica Crawford

After finishing with a 14-16 overall record last year, the App State women’s basketball team is preparing one day at a time for this upcoming season which will officially start on Saturday, Nov. 7. This will be the team’s second season under head coach Angel Elderkin, who has been working hard to get the team ready for the start of the season.

The Mountaineers are ranked eighth in the Sun Belt preseason poll for this year, the same ranking that the team received last season. This year’s team is ready to prove the ranking wrong and turn heads this season.

“I think we did better than what other people expected of us [last year], but not as good as we wanted to do,” junior guard Joi Jones said. “We have high expectations for ourselves, and we’re not going to settle for what we got last year. We expect better.”

In order to turn those heads, the basketball team is focusing on growth with each practice.

“Every single day you see the changes that are happening,” Elderkin said. “It’s really neat to see in the 17 days how far we’ve come, and we’re not even close to where we need to be.”

The team has three main focuses for the season that they try to improve on every day: defense, rebounds and execution.

The Mountaineers finished second in the Sun Belt in offensive rebounds last year, averaging nine per game, and are looking to finish first this year. Elderkin has introduced a new transition defense to the team, which will allow the team to build from the defense to the offense and utilize both their speed and ability to win rebounds, she said.

Outside of the technical aspects of the sport, Elderkin also has the team more focused on the mental side of the game.

“We also talk to [the team] about three areas every day that we can control, and that’s our effort, our communication and our attitude,” Elderkin said.

The Mountaineers took a trip to the High Gravity Adventures ropes course in Boone two weeks ago to help build communication. Elderkin surprised the team with the trip following a scrimmage where the players said that they did not know each other well enough yet. She said that the trip not only helped as a team builder for the team, but it also helped her as a coach to see the team come together to overcome their fears.

This strong sense of communication will prove important for the Mountaineers who are looking to fill the shoes of former players Maryah Sydnor and Katie Mallow, the team’s statistical leaders in 15 categories last season including points per game and rebounds per game.

Elderkin said it will be up to the entire team, not just one player, to step up and make up for the loss of Sydnor and Mallow.

“I think that we have a really special group in terms of that anybody is capable [of stepping up],” Elderkin said. “I don’t think we’re going to have anybody that is going to be this 20-point scorer that we’re going to look to score every time. I don’t want to make it about replacing them … everybody’s got to step up and do their part.”

With their three main focuses in mind, the Mountaineers have been growing each day at practice and are ready to start the season strong.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in these 30 days of practice that we’ve had so far, and the only way we can go is up,” junior Mia Marshall said. “I’m excited to prove people wrong. We’re preseason ranked to come out eighth this year, so I’m just excited to turn some heads. It’s a brand new year. It’s like a brand new team. I’m just excited to prove some people wrong.”

The Mountaineers first action of the season will take place on Saturday Nov. 7 at noon in an exhibition against Lenoir-Rhyne.

Story by: Monica Crawford, Intern Sports Reporter