The Lady Tigers basketball team hope to respond this season with a bang. They went through a bit of adversity last season with a record of 9-23.
“Last year is in the past,” said assistant basketball coach Brittany Taylor-James. “You can’t (dwell) on it because it can consume you.”
Despite last year’s record, the Lady Tigers return star player Joanna Miller, who earned this year’s preseason SWAC player of the year award.
Along with Miller, this year the Lady Tigers made key additions to help the team.
“One of the things we wanted to do was to address needs that we needed to address in terms of players we needed to add to improve upon that last season record,” said assistant basketball coach Lou Hamilton.
The Lady Tigers added two top prospects MarLisa Braxton and Jasmine Godbolt, who will join the team at a later date .
“We had great recruiting class, No. 1 recruiting class in HBCUs,” said coach Taylor.
Braxton, who originally signed with Louisiana Tech University, is a Detroit native. She led the Gulf Coast Community College Lady Commodores to the National Junior College Athletic Association semifinals last year.
Godbolt, who will a 6-foot forward from Garland, Texas is the ninth leading scorer in the history at the University of North Texas.
“She is an awesome player that brings size and strength along with the physicality that we need to make more of a force in the middle,” said head coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs, according to the athletic website.
Preseason conditioning started Aug. 19 for The Lady Tigers, which lasted six weeks. Taylor insisted that this is not an athlete’s worse nightmare; however, it could be if you do not prepare. Their conditioning consisted of weight lifting, ZUMBA, and workouts with Terry Lilly, Grambling’s cheerleading coach. ZUMBA, led by Dr. Dianne Maroney-Grigsby, Grambling’s Orchesis director, helped with eye-hand coordination, speed and agility, and footwork. Lilly helped the team work on their endurance. They usually ended the week by watching film on Fridays.
“Coach (Bibbs) always says the eye in the sky never lies.” said coach Taylor, “The players can see what they do wrong and what they do right and have better idea of how to work on it.”
To tighten up the offense and reduce turnovers, the Lady Tigers are working on protecting the ball more and controlling their passes. They did not; however, need much assistance with shooting.
“You got to look at the positives from last season,” said Taylor. “Obviously, we shot very well, No. 6 in the nation in 3-point shooting, No. 1 team in 3-point shooting in all of HBCUs.”
Although scoring is one of the team’s strengths, the coach staff feels that defense is the key to win championships.
“Coach (Bibbs) always says ‘offense buys tickets, defense wins games,'” said Taylor, calling it the bread and butter. “There’s no excuse to not hustle on defense, there’s no excuse to not be able to be where your man is.”
The Lady Tigers started this season 0-2 with losses against Baylor University and Southern Methodist University over the weekend.
Taylor reminds her players often: “How you think is how you act, how you act is how you perform, and how you perform is how you play.”
The Lady Tigers didn’t perform well in their previous contests; however, they have 27 games left this season to redeem their slow start.
The Lady Tigers face the University of New Orleans today at 7 p.m. in the Lakefront Arena.