The 2019-20 Lady Jaguars have been preparing for their first home game against Madison County Red Raiders. With only four returning players including three juniors and one sophomore, the team is youthful.
“It’s difficult, but we are slowly getting to the point of where I need them to be in realizing that they are going to have lead because we are such a young team,” said Head Coach TaKesha Wall.
Communication is also imperative when it comes to making sure the team understands what is expected of them and how being a leader will benefit the younger team members.
“Having conversations regarding my expectations, leading by example, and mentoring is very important,” Wall said.
Junior point guard and shooting guard Autumn Jones, along with the other juniors, have stepped up to lead their teammates in the absence of senior guidance.
“The juniors have been held accountable for those common mistakes made by the underclassmen. As the oldest on the team and the most experienced players, we’ve had to take on those leadership roles needed to maintain focus,” Jones said.
The Lady Jags have used specific strategies during practice in order to perform to the best of their abilities.
“We have been picking up the pace. We have been working on defense and offense in practice to get better,” freshmen guard Ashley Lester said.
Coach Wall has been taking advantage of the team’s different strengths, primarily speed.
“I am working with a lot of speed this year, so I am trying to use that to our advantage. We do a lot of transition type drills, transitions meaning getting up the floor and being able to make decisions quickly, whether your defense or offense. This has been different to what I have done in the past,” Wall said.
Coach Wall also puts the team in realistic game situations to prepare for game scenarios.
“We do a lot of game situations to get them thinking because a lot of times we see certain situations during the game. This year I wanted to put them in a lot of different situations, and that has been the difference during practices compared to the last three years,” Wall said.
As far as team chemistry, this season’s team has not had a difficult time.
“The chemistry is actually very good this year. I have a group of girls that actually get along and enjoy being around each other, so it makes a big difference when the players are friends,” Wall said.
The Lady Jags feel they are prepared to take on other teams as one strong, united unit.
“We are excited. Our bond and chemistry is over the top. It’s like one big happy family and we are ready,” Lester said.
Even though the team is young they are stepping up and putting in the work to have a successful outcome.
“I was a little nervous at first being a young team and not having a lot of leadership, but this is a smart group and they are breaking old habits and they are really coachable. I am looking forward to our progress throughout the season,” Wall said.