Women’s basketball preview: change at the top

November 7, 2013

While he might not have been here long, interim Head Coach Jim Lewis sure is happy to be joining the Women’s Basketball team. “Well, there’s no better place to be,” he said on just his second day with the team last week. Lewis, who grew up in Alexandria, Va. thinks he was “predestined” to work with the Hoyas and more than ready to take on the task.

While his credentials are impressive, including coaching posts with Team USA and WNBA squads, he still has a long way to go with an inexperienced roster recovering from the abrupt departure of former head coach Keith Brown. “What I do daily is a change to all of [the players], so I’m just trying to keep it simple and build them up,” Lewis said, “ [I’m working] towards building the cohesion we need on the team.”

His players are excited to take on the challenge and are approaching the season with the same positivity.

“We’re constantly energetic [now],” said senior guard and captain Samisha Powell, “I know last year it was just like, ‘We want practice to be over.’ People aren’t saying that a lot, it’s positive attitudes.” Powell along with senior forward and captain Andrea White, are the only two upperclassmen returning to the squad, so they have a lot of responsibility riding on their shoulders as well.

Powell said she’s shifted her focus to this leadership role and “being another teacher on the floor as well as their senior point guard and captain.”

While Lewis hasn’t been able to see what the women can really do yet, Powell thinks that the freshman class of players is extremely strong.

“The freshmen all bring in different talents that fill the void for Sugar Rodgers,” she said. Rodgers is Georgetown’s all-time leading scorer who graduated in 2013. She now plays for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA. “That helps us a lot with our returners.”

White echoed Powell’s dedication toward being a leader to a younger squad, and is excited to see what the new-comers can do. Despite the turbulence over the past month, she is excited about the prospect of starting fresh.

“I think it has helped unify [the team],” White said. “We have to stick together as a team with a new coach coming in and everyone has adjusted to him, he’s adjusted to us, so as long as we stick together, we’ll have a successful season.”

Lewis isn’t overlooking the seniors’ leadership either.

“There’s a definite strength that I’ve observed from day one, and that lies in our two seniors,” said Lewis.

We can safely assume that both seniors will be seeing a considerable amount of playing-time, but Lewis declined to comment on a starting five, hinting that the squad might face some additional challenges because of a slew of injuries that are yielding an unusually small roster.

“I don’t want to give out any secrets as to how many,” he said, “but nonetheless we’ll be prepared to play.” Lewis aims to build up the individual players, and says that we “can expect to see everyone on the floor.”

The quickness of the sophomores and the relative malleability of the team’s playbook will offer the Hoyas a unique opportunity to grow together in a way that matches their abilities. In the past, the women have stuck to a zone defense, but with their quickness and youth, we can expect the implementation of a man-defense to accommodate a faster style of play. “We want teams to adjust to us,” Lewis said in stressing the importance of the team’s growth over any records.

With senior leadership from Powell and White and Lewis’ willingness to dive in, the team is keeping its expectations high. “How many [championships] do you want?” Lewis joked, about the tournament-filled season. The women will spend Thanksgiving week in Alaska at the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaskan Shootout, and the week before Christmas at the Puerto Rico Classic against Michigan State and Western Kentucky.

After last season’s 15-16 performance under Keith Brown, including a 5-11 record in the Big East, no one really knows what to expect from these Hoyas. However, with help from a quick and committed sophomore class comprised of guard Katie McCormick, forward Ki-Ke Rafiu, forward Logan Battle and forward Dominique Vitalis, enthusiasm and energy are running high.

“Our goal is to get better every day,” reiterated Lewis, “I’m really in a learning curve and the players have been very receptive. I think our staff is [also] doing a great job.” Their first test will come this Friday, November 8 in McDonough Gymnasium against the Richmond Spiders (0-0, 0-0 Atlantic 10). Tip off is slated for 7 p.m.

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