When you think of Lady Tiger basketball, two names should automatically come to mind: Patricia Cage-Bibbs and David “Rusty” Ponton, but one might argue that the Lady Tiger Nation is being written a new chapter by Nadine Domond, a product of hall of famer C. Vivian Stringer at Rutgers University.
Coach Domond, the 19th pick overall for the WNBA, a former #1 point guard of the country, part of the number one recruiting class, high school All-American, and former professional basketball player, came to Grambling in 2014 with one mission at hand: “The Rebirth of a Legacy”.
After taking the job, Domond only had two players on the team, neither one of them who were on the roster when the season began in November for the 2014-2015 season. The final roster was composed of seven freshman, three junior college transfers and four walk-ons.
To say that Coach Domond, using her knowledge and the experience as a former assistant coach and Nike skills trainer, worked strategically to build a team would be an understatement.
“I want to restore the legacy back, before there was a Notre Dame and UConn, Grambling State women’s basketball was a considered a national powerhouse… Anyone that knows about women’s basketball history knows about former coaches like Patricia Cage-Bibbs and Rusty Ponton. At one point, Grambling State women’s basketball went seven years straight without a home loss, a total of 68 games,” says Domond.
Cage-Bibbs, the winningest coach in men’s and women’s sports in Division I (with over 500+ wins) led the Lady Tigers program to 244 victories and won six SWAC titles. In 1996-97, Bibbs became the first coach in SWAC history to lead a team to an undefeated season (15-0) throughout conference play.
David “Rusty” Ponton who was promoted to head coach of the Lady Tigers in 1997, was with the team for 11 years at the helm of the women’s basketball program. He had an impressive record of 181-139. Coach Ponton has won two SWAC championships and four straight Coach of the Year awards.
What will it take for the Lady Tigers to regain their status as champions? Work, and lots of it, however this team, which has seven freshmen, three sophomores, two juniors and only one senior (guard Chanta Poole) have been doing just that.
In a conference opener, the Lady Tigers defeated Alabama A&M 75-56 with 26 points from freshman Jazmine Boyd and 14 points from forward John’ea Thompson. The following night, Jan. 4 they were able to secure a win over Alabama State, defending SWAC champs, beating them 89-69, with 69 of those points of the Lady Tigers coming from Boyd, guard Shakyla Hill and Thompson.
In a post-game interview, Boyd and Hill said they were both offended because “you (Alabama State) can’t come into someone’s house, yelling and screaming. That’s disrespectful,” said Boyd. The two are in sync with one another on the court because they were able to get adjusted with one another over the summer time during summer school and they’re also college roommates.
Their winnings came to a slight halt when they were defeated on the road by Southern University 80-69, but the team was able to regain success, beating out Alcorn State University this past Monday, Jan. 11. Boyd is currently leading her team in points scored, and was chosen Southwestern Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for her performance during Alabama State University, putting up 27 points, four rebounds and two assists, and was chosen as the Co-Player of the Week by the SWAC just yesterday (Jan. 12) for her performance in the game against Alcorn (34 points, 10-14 in the field, 5-6 in the three-point range and 9-11 at the line.)
Although the Lady Tigers are currently ranked fourth in the division (3-1), they’re currently the leading scoring offense in the conference with 988 points (65.9 per game).
“I have a special group of young ladies that truly believe and want to bring back the legacy of Grambling State women’s basketball. For us, we’re just taking it one day at a time and trusting the process and God,” says Domond.
With one senior on the team being Poole, this gives the Lady Tigers an opportunity to capitalize with great emphasis on youth and of past experience with the return of players such as Bre’Nae Andrews and Monisha Neal, and with junior college players Thompson and Chantiara Lewis.
Their next game will be on Saturday, Jan. 16 against Prairie View A&M at 3 p.m. in the Frederick C. Hobdy Assembly Center, and if the Lady Tigers continue to perform on the court like they have so far, whether it be at home or on the road, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the championship tournament in March.