Oct. 23, 2012
By Dustin Carlisle
Coach Missy Tiber’s opening remarks
We have a roster of 11 kids right now. That is very much intentional. It was done with a purpose to balance our recruiting classes out. I love our team and I pray daily that we will stay healthy. Unfortunately we have had a couple of little injuries here and there, but I think we will be just fine.
Looking at the roster of 11 we have returned four starters from a year ago. Leading that returning core will be Cartaesha Macklin, the Missouri Valley freshman of the year from one year ago. We are obviously expecting great things from her. This is a young lady that could very well have been just fine with being freshman of the year in the league, but no, she got to work. Any weakness areas that she's had, she has developed them. She can go left a lot better now and she shoots the three very well. She is one of the best, if not the best, shooters on our team. Also from a leadership role, she is very good.
Also returning for us at the guard is Mercedes Griffin. This kid can be as good as she wants to be. I also truly believe that she is the best defender in our league. Also returning for is Ariel Haynes. I am expecting big things from Ariel. This is a kid that is blessed with tremendous athleticism. She is just still learning what to do with it. I think with her abilities to post up, to go outside to shoot the three, and get to the basket. I think she brings a lot to our program with her height that is a definite strength.
Then the last returning starter is Alexus Patterson. I can’t say enough about Alexus and where she is right now. Her maturity and mind set will determine how well she does on the court, and so far in practices, she has looked incredible and she can’t look incredible unless our guards get her the ball. We have a good understanding for us to be successful this year. She has to touch the basketball. When we are in scrimmage situations, I hear our girls talking about how Alexus needs to touch the ball every other time down the court minimum. This is a kid that can score.
Also Linzi Moore — she can play the point guard position and also play over at the two position. She is another kid that can shoot the three, but is also a tremendous passer. She gets the job done. Some more depth at the guard position will be returning junior Jordyn Courier. We are going to rely a lot on Jordyn to shoot the three. Also at the guard position is returning junior Sidney Goins. Sidney is a tremendous athlete and I think she could be a key factor for us this year.
At the forward position I think we have a couple of exciting young ladies. Azia Washington is a kid who could bump to the five spot as well. We're working on her outside shooting, but her strength is just being aggressive and physically tough on the inside. She is a great rebounder and a really strong interior player, so I am very excited about her. Then a name that you guys will start to hear here early is Jameeka Bouie out of Wisconsin. This is a kid who is fighting for a starting position right now. She is a kid who can play the three spot and the four spot. She can shoot the three and post up.
Then wrapping things up for us at the center position is Dyana Pierre. She has an opportunity to play the four and the five for us. Dyana redshirted last year with a torn ACL and meniscus. She has recently torn her meniscus again and we are resting her for the next two weeks. I do anticipate of having her for our first game. She says she will fight through the pain. We will rest her when we need to and play her when we need to. She is a very skilled back to the basket type player.
Our schedule early on is difficult. Our first home game is against Central Arkansas. This is a team that won over 20 games a season ago. They lost a couple of players, but they do have their returning scorer back and they also have a new coach. That will be a tough game for us opening up at home. We are playing in the Miami tournament over the Thanksgiving holiday. That will be exciting, we are looking forward to winning that first game in the tournament and then facing host Miami. Who was a top 10 program in the nation one year ago. Then also right before Christmas we will travel to Missouri for another BCS level contest, so we're excited about that.
Just to talk about the Missouri Valley Conference, I think there is a lot of parity this year in the conference. I would venture to say that Creighton will be the preseason number one in our conference. They had an incredible run last year and won the conference tournament. They (Creighton) are returning most of their players from a year ago. I just think there is a lot of great teams form Missouri State to the up and coming Wichita State. I think we're going to be right there in the mix. I have a lot of confidence in this basketball team. I have full faith in our talent level and I believe we have put a nice group of kids together.
I think there are three areas we need to work on to make our team better. Number one was knowledge of the game. We need to have a better understanding of how we play, we need to have a better understanding of what each kid’s role is, and we need to be coachable. I can see this team making the necessary strides the past few days. Number two — our effort must be better. They are really working hard with constancy through out the entire practice. Then finally, we need to be tougher. There is a big difference in being hurt a little bit and being injured. We have talent there is no doubt. I like at the level we're at right now. We have been practicing since October fourth. We are ready to get on the court, but we still have a lot to learn. As far as getting out there on the court playing against some different, we will be very excited to get out there for our first exhibition game a week from Friday.
Q: What do you think is the toughest challenge facing program this season?
I think the toughest thing is, just for us as coaches to make sure that these kids believe that they can win.
Q: How do you feel playing against conference opponents this year?
I think the big thing with that is that we are returning four quality starters and I think that is going to make a difference. Its four kids back that understood the effort to beat Missouri State that has traditionally been one of the best teams in the conference in recent years. I think it’s a mentality. I think that the talent level is there, but its part of understanding what it takes to win every single day. The kids understand that, but us as coaches need to re-enforce that. I really believe that last year there were seven or eight games that we would like to have back that we did not win. I think that this year with some returning kids back to that have some experience, I think that is a different situation this year for us.
Q: Have you been able to get a sense of the identity of this years team yet?
This is a squad that is together a lot. They enjoy each other. I think they enjoy spending time together and it’s not something we have to ask them not to do. I feel that with this team this year they like to be around each other.
Q: What are the general skills and traits of a point guard position?
Number one is knowledge of the game. I think that is so important, because we are a point guard in-oriented system. Our point guards get every single outlet pass. It’s important to know how the offense runs and that they are extension of the coaching staff on the court. Our point guards have to selfless. It has to be a position where we look to create passes first.
Q: How will Cartaesha's (Macklin) role change now that she is well known now and not a secret anymore?
I think they will be guarding her different. I think us now have put together a team that will allow her to move to her natural position a little bit more. We are helping her even more so. So now this is a kid who doesn't start with the ball, but gets that ball for a first touch in the offensive set and I really like that as far as her role in that aspect. She had a significant role last year being our leading scorer. Now to be able to giver the ball at the half court set and to take some pressure off of her from having to handle the basketball and to direct everything will give her some freedom to continue to improve as a basketball player. I have all the confidence in the world in her, but we have many quality players to put around her to make her better as well.
Q: You guys are a really young team still. What kind of challenges will that bring?
I think the big thing for us again as coaches with these young kids is that the talent is there. We just have to continue to learn the game and continue to work hard. As coaches also we must put them in every possible situation to be successful.
Q: Where do you put your team at as a defensive unit right now?
Great. I love it. I love where we're at. That has been the thing I have been most impressed with. We still have to learn some things about rotation and things like that, but the defensive intensity that we're coming to practice with right now, I am very pleased with that. My biggest concern is rebounding. Last year we did not rebound well. This year, we must rebound well and we have been putting a lot more focus on that. To be a running team you must get stops, but you must get first possession stops. Then you have to be able to run the basketball so we can get up and down the court. We've got some great rebounders. So I think if we continue on with our intensity level and get going get the basketball. You’re going to see us to run the system that I've wanted to since I've got here and that's an up and down game.
Q: What do you think will surprise fans most about this years team?
I think the biggest thing that they will see is that we have kids at every position that can play this game and then we have subs and backups to those positions as well. Though we only have 11 kids, we are very talented at those 11 kids.