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New coach inherits inexperienced roster
PHCC women's basketball returns zero players from last season
Thursday, November 8, 2012
By DAVID REYNOLDS - Bulletin Sports Editor
First-year coach Brian Henderson isn’t the only person new to Patrick Henry Community College’s women’s basketball team this season.
The entire roster is as well.
The Patriots return zero players from last season’s Region X runners-up, and with a new coach in place, that might mean some growing pains early in the season.
Just don’t expect them to last for long, at least according to Henderson.
“We are new to each other, so it’s going to take some time to get to where we need to get,” Henderson said. “But I feel like with the effort that they are giving, with the conversations that we’re having, the teaching that we’re going, I feel like we’re going to be a very good product.”
The biggest loss to the Patriots from last season is center Eulandra Forrest, a two-time all-Region X selection who is now playing at Virginia University of Lynchburg.
But with 11 newcomers — including 10 freshmen — on the roster this season, one silver lining is that no one on the court will remember just how much the team lost when Forrest exhausted her eligibility at PHCC.
Courtney Cayard, the only sophomore on the team, transferred into the Patriots’ program this season, and she’s already shown the ability to replace some of Forrest’s production — at least offensively.
Cayard scored 33 and 25 points in PHCC’s two exhibition games to open the season, and Henderson said the 5-foot-9 guard will be able to contribute in several phases of the game.
“(Cayard) can do it all. She can handle the rock, she can play defense, she can get others open, and of course, as shown by that 33, she can definitely get her own shot off,” Henderson said.
Point guard Jasmine Rawl, shooting guard Chelsea White, power forward Jasmine Griffin and center Mya Robinson will join Cayard in the starting lineup to begin the season, and Henderson said he expects his bench to score about as well as PHCC’s starters.
Henderson singled out White as a defender he thinks will best be able to pester opponents this season, and he said the Patriots’ athleticism should make them a strong defensive unit as a whole as the season progresses.
“I think defensively we’re going to be very, very good. I think we’ve shown in spurts what we can do in terms of locking teams down, but we haven’t put two halves together,” Henderson said. “I think come March we’re going to be a very good defensive team once everyone buys into the system.”
Henderson arrived with the Patriots on Sept. 25 following the departure of Tony Jones. Henderson was the interim head boys basketball coach at George Washington High School in Danville last season, and he also has spent time as an assistant coach at Virginia State University and Petersburg High School. According to a release from PHCC, Jones left the school to pursue other opportunities.
The late start left Henderson and the Patriots scrambling a bit in terms of offseason conditioning, and he said by the time he got settled, it was already time to start practices.
“We really didn’t have preseason to get to know each other and get their bodies where they need to be,” Henderson said. “But we’re going to use these scrimmage games, these exhibition games that we’ve already played, to get in game shape.”
PHCC split its preseason schedule, winning one and losing one, and Henderson said the Patriots started slowly in each half. But its the potential PHCC showed in the second halves of those games — in which they scored 48 and 45 points as a team — that has him excited for Saturday’s home opener against Virginia Western Community College.
”We’ve had some spurts where we really show we can score the ball,” Henderson said. “We’ve got to be able to start the game like we’re finishing right now.”