Brittney Ezell puts her first East Tennessee State women’s basketball team on the floor for public display today.
The Lady Bucs host Shepherd University in their only exhibition game of the preseason, and Ezell doesn’t expect them to look like a finished product by any means.
“I don’t think it will be a great reflection of who we’re going to be,” she said, “but it is a sneak peek. I think we’ll play hard. We may suffer some paralysis by analysis early on, which is to be expected. The only think I’m looking for is people playing hard.”
The Lady Bucs will tip off at 1:30 against Shepherd, an NCAA Division II team from the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. It’s the only tuneup before the season opener at Memphis next Friday.
Ezell, the former Belmont head coach, is trying to re-energize a program coming off back-to-back eight-win seasons. She inherited an experienced roster led by all-conference forward Destiny Mitchell.
The 5-11 senior from Bluffton, Ga., has been bothered by injury issues but still carries career averages of 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds. She appears poised for a big finish to her college career.
“Destiny has been our most consistent player in practice; her effort has been incredible,” said Ezell. “Our other kids look to her.”
The other probable starters today are senior Shawn Randall and junior Cara Bowling in the backcourt, and juniors Serena Clark and Tiana Burley in the frontcourt, though Ezell wasn’t committed to that lineup.
“We’re trying to toy with some things and then decide how to go,” she said. “We have a little bit of tape on Shepherd and we’ll look at some matchups and chemistry. I won’t say whoever starts on Saturday will start at Memphis.”
One of the young players who has caught the coach’s eye in camp is Chandler Christopher. The sophomore guard from Greeneville helps tie the whole package together.
“She has a good grasp on her role,” said Ezell. “We want her to be able to knock down shots and be a calming influence. She’s a really good off-the-ball defender and is like our quarterback on defense, getting people in the right spots.”