CONYERS - If the Rockdale girls basketball team is going to find success on the court this season, the Lady Bulldogs are going to have to do it with almost an entirely new roster.
Rockdale graduated seven key seniors from last season in Heather Quinn, Whitney Patton, Jessica Woodson, Kim Elliot, Ashante Walker, Tiara Leverette and Phyllicia Corey.
In fact, the only returning players with any varsity minutes at all are juniors Keeisha Foreman and Sherry Allen.
"It's very important that these young players step up this season," coach Leonard Buckner said. "Almost the entire JV will be on the varsity this year. The whole team is going to have to step up, and I'm looking for those two (Foreman and Allen) to lead the way."
Buckner said he's also looking for good things out of sophomores Porshe Cleveland, Chelsea Patterson and Miasia Burks, as well as junior Nicole Cuffy.
With all of this youth, Buckner said his team's attention to detail will be paramount.
"We're going to have to do all the little things right," he said. "We can't turn the ball over. We've got to get rebounds, and we've got to execute on offense. We've got three juniors, and everybody else is a sophomore. We do have a couple of ninth-graders that are going to have to play right now. We've got to do all the little things right because people are going to come after us and put pressure on us. We've got to be ready for that."
Despite the obstacles that lay ahead for Buckner and company, he does feel that the speed of this team will be a big plus this season.
"Our strength is our speed. I don't think we've ever been this quick," Buckner said. "We've also got a little bit of size, but we're young. It's a big difference between playing at Conyers Middle School and playing at the high school level. The game is faster, there is more contact."
Buckner said he realizes this year will be a growing process, but he still feels that there is enough talent out there to make it to the state playoffs.
"We said at the very beginning of the season that we wouldn't worry about the record or stats or anything like that. We want to make the state playoffs," Buckner said. "We know that we're young, but we're not going to use that as an excuse. We're going to try and win right now."
The Lady Bulldogs make their 2007 season debut Friday night at Dacula.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.