Women's Basketball builds off the basics
Dec. 22, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- Originally, boot camp was designed as a form of instruction, where physical skills are built. But, inevitably, something else happens to the people engaged in the process.
After enduring together, bonds are also built. Teams are formed.
The Texas Longhorns are learning that right now. A few weeks ago, No. 4 Tennessee generally out-muscled and out-worked the Longhorns in every facet, and a 20-point defeat was the result.
With 10 days before the next opponent, UT was stricken to the practice court, and coach Gail Goestenkors brought her team back to the basics -- and basic training. The Longhorns ran after turnovers, missed offensive rebounds, and, post Ashley Gayle explains, "I think just any rebound."
"It felt like preseason to me, all over again," Gayle continued. "We were never still during practice, we never had a break. So far, we've always been aggressive in practice, but for whatever reason, we had problems relaying that into our games.
"Our practices are finally showing."
In the two victories since, the Longhorns out-willed scrappy Mississippi, and then used a smoother, more concentrated execution to blow by Texas Southern on Sunday afternoon. During that span, freshman Cokie Reed accounted for 24 points, on 11-of-15 shooting, and 10 rebounds.
"It was our boot camp, because I feel like I'm in better condition," Reed says. "I just catch the ball and go up with it."
Senior Earnesia Williams also appreciated a more subtle effect of Goestenkors' tactic. Williams remembers that the Longhorns missed 12 lay-ups against the Lady Vols.
"That's 24 points. That's the game right there," Williams says. "We have to cherish our moments more, and understand the actuality of missing those kinds of chances."
This actuality brought the Longhorns to the practice court, where they ran together, endured together and maybe even learned together. Some things can only be experienced through the support of a teammate -- and a team.
Sophomore Yvonne Anderson showed this connection against the Lady Rebels. She learned the game through the eyes of a head coach, her father, Mike Anderson, and she thinks with a point guard's mind. So, Anderson's instinct is to usually let someone else shoot.
But this time, Anderson caught the ball in the rhythm of the play, which dictated she shoot instead of pass, and she eventually tied her career high for 3-pointers made in a game.
"It's about having confidence in one another," Gayle says.
Which explains Sunday, when Brittainey Raven missed a 3-pointer from the wing, and Reed flew in from the free throw line, grabbed the rebound and netted the put-back for two of UT's 22 second-chance points in the game.
That's how you explain crisper ball movement, and a season-high 24 assists against Texas Southern.
And that's how you explain Kristen Nash hauling it to the other end after a teammate's turnover and forcing a miss underneath the basket. Anderson's ensuing lay-up then put the Longhorns out front by 31 points, with 12:30 still to play.
Time and score didn't dictate the hustle, Nash did.
Or, as Williams says, "Just help the team. Continue to be aggressive, for my teammates."