Through five practices of the preseason for the Ole Miss Lady Rebels, head coach Carol Ross says things have gone well.
They can always go better, she added, but so far so good.
"There have been plenty of growing pains," said Ross, 17-14 last season in her first year at Ole Miss, leading her squad to an NCAA Tournament appearance. "We've got six newcomers and eight returning players. So we're almost split even in that regard. We've got a nice mix of new players and veterans."
That being the case, Ross says the older players have done their part in making sure the new players know what is expected of them as preseason practice moves toward the end of its first week.
"Our veterans have not only pushed the younger players, but I can see them also pushing themselves," Ross said. "There is leadership there. I like the mix and the blend so far. The team spirit is good, and the eagerness and willingness to work hard and do whatever it takes to succeed has also been good."
While it is still too early to talk in terms of which players or positions are really stepping up, Ross says overall and generally she can see some bright spots beginning to develop.
"Point guard play has been good, and we have depth and experience there," she said. "(Senior) Carletta Brown has a lot of experience, (sophomore) Ashley Awkward has a year's experience under her belt and it shows, and (freshman) Tassie Worsham is an all-around sound point guard. They all complement each other very well.
"We like the four spot with (junior) Ellen Buchanan's experience, (redshirt freshman back from knee surgery) Jada Mincy's aggressiveness, and (freshman) Dee Forrest is just so physical and solid and talented."
Ross says one player who is already standing out, much as she did last year, is sophomore Armintie Price. Last season's Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by both the league's coaches and also The Associated Press, Price has become one of the team's leaders.
"She continues to work hard every day," Ross said. "She does a great job of rallying others with her enthusiasm. She has a great sense that when the team needs a lift in practice, she knows just when and how to lift them. The other players feed off her enthusiasm. I'm really encouraged by her leadership out there.
"Tassie (Worsham) is also a good, verbal leader. She has not hesitated one bit to jump right in and help lead this team, even though she is only a (true) freshman)."
Ross says the coaches have been busy putting in different parts of the total package as preseason work continues.
"We work on fundamentals all the time," she said. "We'll always do that. We've also worked on other facets of the game. We have our fast break in, our secondary fast break in, our matchup zone in. Friday we will begin adding some out of bounds plays. We've worked some on our press but have a lot more work to do in that area."
This Saturday the Lady Rebel staff will host its first coaches' clinic. Invited to attend are coaches at any level of basketball, from students who want to go into coaching to veteran and experienced coaches at all levels.
"We are anxious to see what the coaches who will be here can teach each other and also what they can teach us," Ross said. "We will have Joe Ciampi, the newly retired longtime successful head coach at Auburn, here for the clinic. He has great expertise in the coaching world, and we look forward to everyone being able to pick his brain. We hope a lot of people will take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about basketball and coaching on Saturday."
For more information on the basketball coaches' clinic, call the Ole Miss women's basketball office at 662-915-7592.
Lady Rebs wrap up week one of practice
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