Women's hoops team works out in game setting

Armintie Price was her usual active self. Several of the newcomers got involved in the action. The Rebels got it up and down the floor at a fast pace throughout. These and more were aspects of the Sunday night scrimmage.

"We're still letting everybody get some minutes in," said fourth-year head coach Carol Ross. "If we were playing for keeps, then we'd get our best seven or eight and go. But we just wanted to let everybody get a good sweat up. And I need to see who can play in a scrimmage situation like this. You find out a little more about them."

Ross said she and her staff kept things fairly simple this time around. Things will get even more complex and game-like on Sunday at 2 p.m. when the Rebels play their one and only exhibition game of the preseason.

"We only played one defense tonight. We kept things simple. We didn't change much. We didn't look all that good. We didn't rebound very well."

Ross attributes some of that to injuries of inside players.

"(Senior) Jada Mincy's still hurt. (Sophomore) Brandi Tipton's still hurt. We weren't full strength."

Tipton is three to four weeks away from being ready, according to Ross. She suffered a dislocated knee cap a few days ago. Mincy has a swollen knee but should be fine soon.

Sophomore center Shawn Goff led all scorers with nine points. Senior guard Armintie Price had eight points, while four players had four points each - senior guard Ashley Awkward, junior forward Danetra Forrest, and two freshmen, center Daphnee Frieson and guard Shantell Black.

Other scorers included junior guard Lindsay Roy with three points and freshman guard Bianca Thomas with two points.

Freison had four rebounds, while Forrest had three boards. Price had two steals.

The team did not divide up. They played a group of invited practice players in the scrimmage.

Ross said she still evaluates her veteran players in scrimmages like this, but what she really watches for is how things go with the newcomers.

"I know pretty much what the returners are going to do. We want to see how the freshmen mold with the veterans, how they play when things are not controlled, when I'm not stopping and correcting. We want to see how they will play through their mistakes. They have to play at a more hectic pace. You want to see how they handle adversity.

"The older players have done a good job of showing the new players the ropes, leading them, guiding them, being good mentors. I'm sure they'll continue to do that."

Ross said nothing is set in stone as far as a starting lineup or the top seven or eight players. But she did say she had a good idea who they all might be at this point.

"There will be a lot of players who won't start who will get a lot of playing time. So things can change from time to time. We'll keep working with the lineup to find the best formula, the ones who give us the best chemistry and the best chance to get off to a good start. That's what starters do. They set the tone."

Observations from my vantage point: This appears to be a more talented team than last year from top to bottom. They do have some youth with five freshmen.

Awkward will be an experienced and effective point guard as a senior. The inside players we saw tonight will be solid, and with the return of Tipton and Mincy, the Rebels will be bigger and more effective inside than in the recent past.

Goff has improved her game inside over last year when she was a freshman. Frieson has some solid skills inside and can get up and down the court fairly easily and quickly for a player who is 6-foot-4.

Forrest will be a stronger presence as a junior and her experience will help the team. Roy could likely step up into a bigger role as an outside shooter. One of the keys will be junior forward Carla Bartee, who made an impact last season after transferring from Western Kentucky. Having one season of SEC play behind her will make her a better player. She will continue to be one of the team's top shooters.

Price will be Price - active, tough, emotional, hustling baseline to baseline.

Ross has mentioned that the league has gotten even taller and bigger inside than before. With three players listed at 6-1, another at 6-2, one at 6-3 and still another at 6-4, the Rebels have tried to overcome a height problem by recruiting bigger players. Mission accomplished.

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