Women’s Basketball Looking Forward to New Season / Charlie Williams
With women’s basketball opening their season in less than a month at Mississippi State, head coach Greg Long has high hopes for his second year on the job. With the Lady Choctaws coming off of a 3-9 campaign in a conference-only season that saw eight games be canceled due to COVID, the new season will be a chance for Long to coach for a full season for the first time at MC.
In Long’s first season as head coach the Lady Choctaws came out of the gate strong, opening their season 3-1 including a 72-48 season-opening win over UAH and a sweep of Delta State on the road. After that strong start, the Lady Choctaws would end the season on an eight-game slide and finish the season last in their division.
While last season was certainly disappointing, Coach Long is optimistic for the new season. Last year’s team’s identity was found in playing tough defense, and Long is doubling down on that this year. When asked about that defensive philosophy he said, “We’re gonna continue with picking up the ball full court, high pressure, there is no secret to what I do…”
Although they excelled on the defensive end of the court, the Lady Choctaws offense struggled to score consistently throughout last season. Long said that this is an area he has tried to address in recruiting, and he thinks they’ve brought in some players that can really shoot the ball. He was particularly excited about transfers Dezirae King and Kayla Bradley, who he coached during his previous stop at Arkansas-Monticello, saying that it will be big to have veterans with experience in his system. He also expects big things out of Whitney Johnson and Danielle Tennant, junior transfers from McNeese State and Miami Dade College.
Another thing Long expressed excitement about was this year’s freshman class. Of the six freshmen coming in, four of them are from Mississippi including Mya Bobo, who he said could potentially turn out to be “the steal of the state.” He also cited the championship-winning experience of other Mississippi freshmen Ally Alford, Kaylee Jones, and Sky Vaughn, who all won state titles in high school.
With all of this talent coming in, Long has not committed to any particular lineups yet. He said that while he has an idea of what he wants to do with the lineups, playing time will ultimately be decided by who does the best in practice and which groups show the best chemistry. To help with this chemistry, Long said that the team instituted leadership programs over the summer that included Zoom calls and the team reading a book together in an effort to bring them closer together.
The Lady Choctaws will open their season on the road with exhibitions against Mississippi State and Louisiana Lafayette and road games against Lemoyne-Owen and Tuskegee before their home opener against Tougaloo on Nov. 16. The Lady Choctaws will then start conference play on Dec. 2 at home against West Alabama.