Tide Women Show Signs Of Progress

In pre-season discussion, Alabama Women's Basketball Coach Wendell Hudson expressed pleasure with the progress shown the first two years of his tenure. Four league wins was significant improvement from the lone victory in 2008-09. Key returnees senior forward Tierney Jenkins and junior guard Ericka Russell along with a highly touted class of newcomers are expected to continue the program's climb.

Alabama's first opportunity came Friday evening as the 2010-11 team debuted against the Tennessee State Lady Tigers. They did not disappoint easily routing the Ohio Valley Conference opponent 82-55 in Coleman Coliseum.

Jenkins and Russell scored the first two buckets as the onslaught ensued. The Tide never trailed building a commanding 42-22 halftime lead. The pair led Alabama in scoring respectively with 12 and 18 points. Tierney recorded her 24th career double-double finishing with a game high 15 rebounds. Russell's seven of ten field goals included four treys. Point guard LaToya King directed the offense effectively distributing five assists with only two turnovers.

The highly anticipated debut of freshman forward Kaneisha Horn saw the top five rated recruit contribute seven points and five rebounds. "I didn't do what I was supposed to do so hopefully next game I will do better," she confessed. "I was not pleased with my performance today." Hudson complimented her unselfish attitude. "I just think she is working out the kinks. Athletically in spurts she has shown how good she will be able to play. I just think she is still learning how to play," he said. "She's a team player. Even though she has a lot of talent and there are a lot of expectations she is not trying to force things. She's a McDonald's All-American and we're fussing about her taking more shots."

Sophomore forward Celiscia Farmer, Junior College transfer forward Alicia Mitcham and freshman guard Shafontaye Meyers added 8 points each to the healthy 43 point total from the bench. First year performers Mitcham, Kristen Lee, Jasmine Robinson and Meyers all earned a favorable comment as well from Hudson. Twelve of 13 Tide players who saw action scored at least two points in the contest.

Alabama forced 36 turnovers leading to 38 points while surrendering only 13 giveaways and 9 points to the Lady Tigers. Although both finished with almost an identical field goal percentage, 40.4% for the Lady Tigers to 40% for the Tide, the relentless effort on defense created a 38 shot field goal attempt advantage for the home team, 85 to 47. Points in the paint favored Alabama by a significant 42-16 margin.

Since day one Hudson has preached a philosophy espousing a quick strike offense predicated on a high pressured defense forcing turnovers. Although tonight was not a master piece according to the head man, the finishing touches are within reach. "This is what I had envisioned," Hudson said. "This is the way we wanted to play. This is the way the players enjoy playing. We need to get it down to about ten players before we get into a regular rotation. The biggest thing is the combination. We have a lot of young players, and we don't need them all out there at the same time. We just need to work out the kinks as far as the combination is concerned."

Veteran Jenkins praised the newcomers for the team practicing well and being able to duplicate the effort in the game. "I always say this but it's really the freshman because we had a whole team that picked it up. The returning players knew but the freshman they were doing it almost better than us so it was not like we had to stop and teach them. The whole practice was high intensity because they knew exactly what they were doing. It's like they were used to it. The freshmen are the big difference or the newcomers because Alicia (Mitcham) is not a freshman."

There was a good feeling circulating after the win for a program on the rise. "I think for about 35 minutes we played pretty good basketball," Hudson said. "The team came out and played we l because they practiced that way. Shooting the basketball is something we need to do a little better, but I was pleased with the effort and the open shots we had during the game."

Horn was asked about the newcomers. Her reply included a prognostication the Alabama fans hope is true. "I think they did really well. I was impressed with all of them. We are going to be good this year."

Alabama (1-0) will entertain Central Arkansas at 2 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum on Sunday.

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