Three practices into the preseason, coach Karen Kemp thinks the East Tennessee State women’s basketball team may be able to push the tempo a little more than she thought. And she’s pretty sure youngsters will have to play a greater role.
Each of those notions has something to do with Brianna Bogard, the freshman point guard from Georgetown, Texas.
“She is doing extremely well in our practices,” Kemp said Wednesday. “Her ability to run a team, even this early, is surprising. She can score but really gets teammates involved and can push the pace.”
The Bucs, of course, have another pretty quick point guard on the roster. Senior Tarita Gordon has returned after redshirting last season with a knee injury.
Kemp said Bogard may start out coming off the bench but could begin to see more minutes paired with Gordon, who would move over to shooting guard.
More of a concern for the coach is getting immediate contributions from the freshmen in the frontcourt. That became a pressing matter when Ashley Miles suffered an Achilles tendon injury a couple of weeks ago during conditioning drills.
“We’re going to need quite a bit from Amy Duke and Maria Bond,” said Kemp. “We’re trying to keep their spirits up early because it’s not going to be easy. They’re really absorbing a lot right now.”
The Lady Bucs got an early jump on the preseason because they start playing early. They tip off the season at home in the WNIT against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 11.
When Kemp looks around in practice now, old stalwarts like Tara Davis and Latisha Belcher are nowhere to be found. Five freshmen are learning to get up and down the floor.
“There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from the young ones,” said Kemp. “It’s going to be a big learning curve, but they’re eager and focused.”
The coach also likes what she’s seen of sophomore guard Shawn Randall, who was slowed last season by a knee injury.
“She’s playing at a different level now,” said Kemp. “Her speed and ability to move are so much better without that old knee brace.”
The Lady Bucs have welcomed another familiar face to the sideline. Brooke Wilhoit, their former point guard, has joined Kemp’s staff after coaching stints at Wofford and Kennesaw State.
“Brooke is a lot of fun and brings a lot of energy,” said Kemp. “She’s always bouncing and keeping the girls up, motivating them. It’s good to have her back on the team.”
n The men’s soccer team has had to eat a little humble pie early in the conference season.
After losing just once in their first eight games, the defending champs were beaten by both Nashville schools to start the Atlantic Sun Conference schedule. They fell 3-1 at Belmont last Friday before returning home and losing 2-1 to Lipscomb on Sunday.
They now find themselves alone at the bottom of the standings.
Red cards have certainly figured into the recent troubles.
Alesi Osorio was tossed early in the second half at Belmont, and David Geno and Frank Doumbe got red-carded late. All three had to sit out against Lipscomb, meaning the Bucs were without their leading scorer (Geno) and assist man (Doumbe).
Blake Woodruff was called for a hand ball in that match and sent off. He’ll miss the team’s game Friday night at North Florida.
“Soccer is such a punitive game, and cards can kill you,” coach Scott Calabrese said Wednesday. “We just have to make sure we don’t put ourselves in position to get red cards.
“Beyond that, we’ve had to look at the mistakes we made in conceding goals. We’ve worked hard this week to address some of the issues. We have to stop this trend of giving up soft goals.”
The Bucs (6-3-1, 0-2) will be on the road today heading to Jacksonville. They certainly need to come home with a sweep of North Florida and Jacksonville on Sunday.
Calabrese is still looking at the big picture.
“We just have to get that first three points on the board,” he said, referring to the value of a win in the standings. “I think our guys are still quite motivated and focused, and preparation is good. We just need to get our confidence back.”
n The women’s golf team was in position to get a win Tuesday at the Starmount Fall Classic in Greensboro, N.C.
The Lady Bucs held a five-shot lead entering the final round at Starmount Country Club but were tracked down by Maryland and finished second. The Terps ended up winning by seven.
“We didn’t handle the lead very well and threw away a lot of shots on the front,” said ETSU coach Stefanie Shelton.
Senior Mayte Vizcarrondo closed with a 76 to finish in a tie for sixth individually, at 11 over par. Sophomore Sian Evans tied for ninth.
The Lady Bucs play again this weekend at the Lady Pirate Invitational in Greenville, N.C.
n The volleyball team has been slow out of the gate in conference.
The Lady Bucs are 1-2 (7-10 overall) and stand seventh in the A-Sun. Belmont and Lipscomb are currently tied at the top of the standings, at 4-0, while Florida Gulf Coast is 3-0.
Every other team has at least two conference losses.
ETSU can make up some ground at home this weekend. Jacksonville visits Brooks Gym on Friday night, and North Florida will be in on Saturday.