Young talent is key in 2007-2008 season

After a dismal 12-19 season a year ago, the Grambling State Lady Tigers are looking to get back in the SWAC race this season.Entering his 10th season as the women’s basketball coach, David “Rusty” Ponton inherits a young but talented team. Coach Ponton’s philosophy is defense first, and he expects all his players to play hard and fast for 40 straight minutes.

“To do those things you must be physically and mentally conditioned,” said Ponton.

Last year’s team was 12-19 (7-5 at home, 4-10 on the road and 1-4 at neutral sites). This season will be a rebuilding year for Coach Ponton after losing four of five starters to graduation, including his top two scorers: guard Sanora Cole (10.3 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game and 2 assists per game) and three time SWAC defensive player of the year Lacey Cormier (10.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 2.8 blocks per game).

This year’s Lady Tigers team looks completely different. Only two pivotal players return from last year, shooting guard Kourtney Sherman and point guard Keva Wilson. Seven new players are on this year’s squad.

Besides Sherman and Wilson, Ponton is relying on other key players this season. Small forward Gabrielle Fleming and point guard Paris Hawkins return, and newcomers Whitney Brown (small forward), Wyneishia Randle (power forward) and Kristen Harper (shooting guard) are expected to contribute.

“I’m relying on my key players because they must set the tone, and I think the newcomers can come in and make a significant impact,” Ponton said.

The Lady Tigers open their season on Sunday, with the first of nine non-conference opponents, starting with Texas College.

The team starts conference play against Alabama State on Jan 5.

“In order to be successful this season, we must control the ball and not turn the ball over and play good solid defense,” added Ponton.

Sunday’s game will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Assembly Center.