Conversation with Coach Ladner Part II

Renee Ladner is busy with her first season as head coach coming up soon, but the new Lady Hoops leader found time to talk about how things are going. Here is the second and final part of that conversation.

On the process of selecting a new coach (Marlene Stollings):

Carol Ross came in here and brought in people that she knew, but then again, she had been in the business for 17 years. The entire thing is a network, and I think or at least I try to go out and find someone that I have worked with or know personally. Someone that you feel comfortable with because we are a family. We spend almost 365 days a year together. I definitely see the coaches more than I do my family so the chemistry has to work. I was a little uneasy making this hire because I didn't know her personally. But she fared very well, and I didn't pull any punches. I made life tough on her, and she passed all the tests. So, I felt very good about that.

On the incoming freshmen:

Our youngsters are Kayla Melson and Kayla Holloway. They are both talented and are also very good students. Kayla Melson (5-7) is a point guard, and Kayla Holloway (6-3) is a five. Melson is here completely healthy, but Holloway is here rehabbing an ACL injury. From all accounts, they are adjusting well. I had them in my office yesterday to visit about Ole Miss and make sure they knew their way around. In the summer, their days are six in the morning to five in the afternoon. They are getting a dose of college life, and how it will actually be. Holloway is doing well with the rehab and should be ready to go by October.

On her own time management:

My personal schedule hasn't changed a lot because I always spent long hours in the office anyway as an assistant. I was here about as much as Carol was. I have had to make adjustments and arrangements for speaking engagements. That is something that I enjoy doing, but the biggest change has been July when I am out everyday. I've never had to do that. I need to be busy and working for the players and the program. It suits me well right now.

On avoiding a rebuilding year:

You never replace the nucleus of Armintie Price, Ashley Awkward and Jada Mincy. Each one of them brought their own individualism to this team. Naturally, the athleticism and statistics spoke for themselves. We relied so heavily on those three last season, but this time, we will need to use a nucleus of 12 kids. The entire group has to make that up, and then the newcomers will need to add to that. We have to play hard-nose basketball but also be very efficient. Recruiting is where it begins. The goal is to out-recruit the last class every season. We lost 50 percent of our rebounding and scoring so we have to find ways so that if this group doesn't make it up, the next group has to. Our sophomores have never lost. They don't know what it means to lose. We're past that, and there are players that don't know about the WNIT. Expectations are the NCAA and to continue the trend. Winning is a mentality, but you have to put athletes on the floor in this league.

On players gaining experience last season:

I feel really good about our backcourt with Shantell (Black) and Alliesha (Easley) returning with big minutes and experience. Those young ones and also Elizabeth Robertson have been there. They will be ready and have to produce. For the post game, I think Shawn Goff will step up to the plate, and Dee Forrest is anxious for her senior year. And Carla Bartee will surprise people. Carla has taken on a leadership role, and we have Daphne Frieson, who has improved her game. It is always difficult on those freshman coming in, but there is a super nucleus of kids to begin with. Some that people haven't really seen yet. Bianca Thomas, Brandi Tipton and LaKendra Phillips (Florida transfer). She will be eligible in December and has an SEC body and mentality. LaKendra is an incredible athlete and will be ready to play. Instead of relying on three, we have to rely on the entire team. Tasi (Worsham) and Lindsay (Roy) and the other seniors have seen good leadership and can hopefully duplicate that. It is kind of like me, I have seen a great coach so that will help me also.

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