It’s that time of the year again.
The Lady Lions are officially back in action and look to repeat as Big Ten regular season champions. The squad held its first practice of the season in the Bryce Jordan Center and allowed fans and spectators to come and watch.
After some routine stretching and warm-up activities, the Lions broke down into groups to do drills and eventually scrimmage their practice team. The scrimmage against a group of six men featured some intense moments at times.
It’s clear that head coach Coquese Washington has the program doing well and there’s no doubt that she expects her squad to improve on their Sweet 16 appearance from a year ago. During the scrimmage, whenever a player was slacking or not going hard, Washington acknowledged it and had players subbed off the court to do sit-ups and ride the exercise bike.
These “punishments,” if you will, should help to get the team ready for their upcoming season and hopefully will instill a work ethic in the team that will help them have another successful season.
In the two eight-minute scrimmage sessions, the practice squad guys won the first, 23-19. Then Washington got her squad fired up.
The Lions came out and won the second scrimmage 11-10, despite not having their best offensive performance. In each of the scrimmages, Washington had various members of her staff and athletic personal charting stats and recording what was going on. She set goals for her team in terms of rebounds, points, and turnovers that she helped to assess her team’s play. It was not just based on scoring.
From what I could tell, the Lions will be a better team than last season and I have them going to the Elite 8, with the potential to make the Final Four in New Orleans, depending on who they would face down the road. There will be some tough non-conference games for the squad as they take to the road to face Texas A&M, Miami, and UConn.
Two new additions to the Lions this season are true freshman forward/center Candice Agee and redshirt junior guard Dara Taylor. Taylor was ineligible to play last season for the Lions, as she had to sit out due to NCAA rules because of transferring from Maryland.
With Taylor’s quickness combined with Alex Bentley’s crafty ball handling and smart decision making, and Maggie Lucas’ excellent shooting ability, the Lions will be very tough to defend at the guard positions. Down low the Lions feature Nikki Green and Mia Nickson who are both big playmakers.
Washington has not yet announced her starting roster, but I believe that it will be the five just mentioned, four of which are returning starters.
The Lions have a scrimmage against California (PA) on Nov. 3 before opening the regular season at home against Howard on Nov. 11.