Change will be the main focus for the Ohio University women’s basketball team heading into the 2012-2013 season. New faces are a primary factor as the Bobcats look to the new season.
Semeka Randall is returning for her fifth season as head coach, leading an entirely new coaching staff. During the upcoming season, Patricia Charity, Elaine Powell and Jeffrey Marshall will handle the assistant coaching duties, Jessica Loding will pick up the responsibilities of the Director of Basketball Operations and Monique Perez will join the staff as a graduate assistant.
The new coaching staff will play a key role for the team.
“We don’t want to keep reliving what we’ve been doing in the past, so having a new staff is kind of like having a new momentum with us,” guard Shavon Robinson says. “Just change—we need that. You know, more like a step forward. The staff is really encouraging and stuff and they want to push us in the right direction, so I think it’s good.”
Randall agrees that the new staff will be a positive change for the team, noting that energy is a big part of what will help the team succeed.
“It feels good that the energy that (the coaches) do bring is just, every day we’re trying to challenge our student athletes to counter that or surpass the energy that the coaching staff has brought,” she explains. “I think overall, the practice we’ve had, I will say about 80 percent they’ve met us, but yet we’re still trying to push them to get past us.”
Along with the new coaches, two freshmen will join the Bobcats on the court this season. Guard Kiyanna Black and forward Lexie Baldwin will try to help push Ohio from the middle of the pack in the MAC standings.
“I think they’re going to have some growing pains early in the season, but as the season progresses, you start to see them come into their own because we see it individually now from a talent standpoint,” Randall says.
Randall explained that both of the new players are able to bring a certain set of strengths to the team. She notes that Black is strong in terms of attacking the basket and shooting jump shots, but that she must build on her defense, awareness and communication. Of Baldwin, Randall says that the freshman has the ability to emerge as a game-changer for the Bobcats.
“I think they’re learning right now, but when it comes to the season, I think they’ll be completely fine and we need them so I think we’re just pushing them everyday to get to where we need them to be,” Robinson says.
The team came into the previous season with five freshmen. With only two this year, they consider themselves to be more experienced on the court.
“I think we’re a little further ahead than we were last year at this time, just because we only have two freshmen, last year we had five. So I think just experience-wise, we’re just a lot better—running plays, being a little more poised with the ball,” says sophomore Mariah Byard.
Last season, the team fell below .500 at 14-18 overall with a MAC record of 6-10. The team is predicted to finish the season in fourth place of the Mid-American Conference East Division by the league office.
“Like I stated to (the team) earlier, we’re in the middle of the pack so we’ve got a lot of work to do, so we can’t get complacent. We’ve got to take each day, take each practice, even though it’s two and a half hours and it’s not like games where it’s a lot of starts and stops,” said Randall. “You’ve got to counter and understand the importance of each practice and not let it slip by.”
The team looks to build on their strong points, such as attacking the basket and knocking down shots. In order to improve, they will focus on the smaller parts of the game, including taking charges, defense and communication.
The team lost star player Tenishia Benson to graduation, but Randall looks to see new players emerge in bigger roles this season to fill the void.
“I think this is a little different considering last year, our team was based solely around Tenisha Benson,” says Randall. “I think it’s open for anybody, but I hope our seniors step up and have a fantastic senior year, Shavon grows into this leadership role of maybe potentially taking Tenisha Benson’s place, people like Mariah, now that she’s no longer a freshman, understanding how to play this game, what needs to be done. So just kind of growing on that and then allowing the kids to play lose and free. That’ll be huge and important for our team.”
The players hope to capture a MAC title, but Randall explains that specific goals have not been made for the upcoming season.
“We haven’t really sat down and built our goals yet. I have some stuff in mind, but the biggest thing is being better everyday and accepting change because I believe change will be good for this team this upcoming season,” she says.
With Benson lost to graduation, two new freshmen and a new coaching staff, the team looks to go through plenty of change this season.
Right now, the team is embracing change.