It’s whoever plays best in practice.
With that method, the probable starting lineup for Friday’s season opener against Cincinnati at 7 p.m. at Brooks Gym has been determined.
“The starters choose themselves in practice,” Ezell said Wednesday. “It becomes apparent and players understand. But honestly, I could probably start four or five from the second group as well.”
Senior Tianna Tarter, who was recently named to Nancy Lieberman Watch List as one of the nation’s top point guards, will be back running the show after averaging a Southern Conference-best 19.2 points and team-best 4.8 assists per game last season.
“I might start Tarter,” Ezell joked about the unanimous first-team All-Southern Conference selection.
As for the rest of the starting lineup, it is 6-1 sophomore Raven Dean, who averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds last season, small forward Malloree Schurr, along with junior college transfer Britney Snowden, who plays both power forward and center, and freshman Erica Haynes-Overton at the No. 2 guard.
“Britney Snowden is extremely skilled around the basketball and the best communicator that I’ve ever coached,” Ezell said. “She’s a natural leader and people gravitate to her. Erica Haynes-Overton is one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. She’s probably more athletically gifted than Shamauria Bridges and that’s hard to imagine. She can do things defensively that you’re not accustomed to seeing a young lady do. You will see a lot of confidence out of our newcomers.”
As for the returners, who also include junior forward Sadasia Tipps and sophomores Jada Craig and Anajae Stephney, the coach likes their grit.
“That’s the thing with our kids, you’re never going to question how hard they play,” Ezell said. “They may not make the right decisions, the right reads, but our kids never fail to play hard and represent us in the right way.”
Due to some transfer rules, the Bucs have only 10 players eligible to play this season. But, the good thing is how competitive practices have been. Shy Copney, the former Science Hill star who has another year of eligibility after finishing up at UT-Martin, should also see extended playing time.
“There’s not really a big drop-off from No. 1 to No. 10 when you start subbing,” Ezell said. “We have some different rotations we are able to use. We can go a little faster. more athletic, or we can go bigger or we can go to a more shooting and more slashing lineup. It’s fun to play with this group and how the different components have come together.”