The Lady Rattlers begin their season with intense workouts, conditioning and weight training as they work hard to prepare themselves for the 2015 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
It is going to be a long journey for the Lady Rattlers as they are working to build a new team from last season.
With a total of 16 girls on the team, nine of the players are new including six freshmen and one walk-on.
LeDawn Gibson, the women’s head basketball coach knows she has a lot of work cut out for her this season.
“It’s going to be tougher this season because we are building a whole new team, losing five seniors from last year including Jasmine Grice,” Gibson said. “She was the lead scorer for the past three years averaging 24.5 points per game. She led the country receiving the NCAA award for steals.”
The Lady Rattlers finished fourth in the 2014 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Finishing the season off 17-14.
Gibson sights that a lack of size and teamwork played a huge role in the finish last year.
“We lacked in size and the girls relied on Jasmine too much,” Gibson explained. “Instead of playing with her they played around her. But this year’s team is more well-rounded.”
Gibson believes that although the team is young the girls have a lot of talent.
Gibson explained that the criterion she was looking for when recruiting new players were girls who are athletic with high basketball IQ’s
“I was only looking for girls who is academically inclined and who takes their academics serious as well as basketball and who has big goals on the court and in life. The players are students first,” said Gibson.
Although Gibson has yet to pick captains she is looking for players with leadership skills and has high standards from every player on the team.
She is expecting a lot from senior Taneka Rubin the second leading scorer from last year’s team.
“She has worked very hard during the off season and I am looking for leadership skills from her,” Gibson stated.
Gibson is also expecting a lot from freshmen Brooksie McGraw, a transfer student from last year and a first year player.
Olivia Antilla, a junior college transfer feels that the Lady Rattlers are going to have an excellent year because of the workouts they have been doing and everything that the team has accomplished as a whole thus far.
Antilla believes the team has common goals for this season.
“We’re all on the same page mentally and with our goals as to what we want to achieve this year, and when a team has that collective goal of wanting to win and wanting to achieve the same thing that is when success does happen,” Antilla said.
She also believes that it is essential for the fans to come out and support the team because it makes them feel like they have support and it distracts the other team.
Alicia Jones, another newcomer said that her experience on the team this far has been really good and that all of the girls and coaches are really nice and have been welcoming.
Jones natural position is the shooting guard or the small forward position, and that is what she’ll be playing this year.
Jones believes that she can offer a lot to the team.
“I feel like I can bring hard work to the team, dedication, and a will to win,” Jones said.
Jones has high expectations for the team despite being so new to the program.
“My main goal is to win the MEAC championship,” Jones said.
Gibson feels that even though the team has to work on their congruity and getting to know one another on the court she believes it will be a great year.
“The girls have strong mind sets, they’re pushing each other and working hard during the off season. I’m proud to see that,” Gibson said.
The Lady Rattlers will tip-off their season November 14, 2014, against the University of Alabama.