Coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs is known for being fearless against tough competition and known for knocking off major colleges.
Bibbs’ 501-win resume include victories over Syracuse, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Maryland, Wake Forest, Clemson, Texas A&M, New Mexico State, Texas Tech, Mississippi State, Xavier (Ohio), Rice, and Miami.
As she returns to Grambling for her second stint as head women’s basketball coach, the battle has now begun.
Her attempt to add teams to her long list of victims will take place Friday when the Lady Tigers open their season against Memphis in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
Because of the magnitude and prominence of Bibbs’ name, the Lady Tigers were selected as one of the 16 teams to participate in the 2012 Preseason WNIT.
The tournament kicks off the women’s college basketball season and will be played Nov. 9-18 in a three-game guarantee championship format.
The Lady Tigers will play Memphis in the first round, and coach Bibbs couldn’t be more ready to start the season.
Bibbs got a chance to evaluate the Lady Tigers in their recent scrimmages against Northwestern in Natchitoches and LSU Shreveport. What she saw was her girls working diligently in learning and executing the new system – offensively and defensively – and giving maximum effort on the floor.
“One thing I tell my players is to never give up,” she said.
“They are working hard and they are trying. That is as much as I can ask for right now.”
Rachele “Red” Dobbins, the senior point guard who missed last season due to injury, is returning, and coach Bibbs sees her as a potential leader on the team because of her skills and knowledge of the game.
“She is a player who has talent,” Bibbs said. “She knows the game and she is the one in that point guard position and right now she has to be a coach on the floor.”
Other players to take note of are Victoya Ricks, who has a “vertical out of this world,” and Jessica Watkins, a transfer from the University of Virginia Lynchburg.
The projected starters for Friday will be Dobbins, Cierra Ceazar, Watkins, Ricks and Alexis Andrews.
Coach Bibbs said the Lady Tigers’ game plan is to be extremely active on the boards and on the defensive end with hopes of creating easy transition offensive.
She said that her immediate focus is to make sure her team is in the best condition, especially when they open up Tigers of Memphis.
Back in 2011 when Bibbs coached a North Carolina A&T, she battled Memphis and her squad was blown out 76-51. As a result, Bibbs remembers their style of play.
“Memphis is always known to be one of the top teams, so they’re more than just pretty good,” Bibbs said.
“They do a lot of up-tempo and run-jump style of defense, so we have to minimize on turnovers and do the thing I always talk about, and that is rebound and knock down our free throws.
She talked more about her strategy.
“We can’t get out-rebounded. If that happens or we don’t knock down our free throws when we go to the charity stripe, it’s going to be a tough night.”
If you exclude the WNIT from the Lady Tigers’ schedule, they still have to face some the top schools, two that are ranked in the Top 25, according to the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll. Those top teams are No. 25 University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska, ranked No. 19.
Coach Bibb said this tough scheduling to the start off the season is nothing to fear, but rather is something that should prepare her team for conference play.