COVINGTON - The Eastside Lady Eagles basketball is are doing all the right things to get better during its summer practices.
With an average of 16 girls at each practice, Lady Eagles head coach Jason Grooms feels good with the time and commitment the girls are making.
"They've been here working hard, and they just want to get better," he said. "This group is driven more, and they're motivated and they want to succeed. I really think they want to win next year. We're still going to be young, but at least we'll have young and experienced girls. We think this team will be the most competitive team we've had."
Grooms is stressing to the team over the summer that they need to be more physical than last year and they have to be able to score with more consistency.
"I think we're a little more physical than we had been. Last year we were in a couple of games where I feel we got pushed around." Grooms said.
"Our overall shooting has to get better. We've been really emphasizing shooting in the last week. We've been scoring in spurts and I want to be able to be more consistent in our scoring. I feel like we need to shoot the ball better; I feel like we can. Defensively, I've been pretty pleased but we've had trouble at times scoring."
Stepping up so far this summer have been rising sophomores Raven Williams and Jade Cook along with upcoming senior Ashley Crew.
"I think that they're physically toughness has improved. I think we'll be counting heavily on them," he said.
One thing that Grooms is going to have this season that he's been missing for quite a while is depth.
His past teams have had players that he felt comfortable with on the court, but the problem was pulling them to get a rest. He did not think the players on the bench could keep opponents from running up the score. However, this team will have a few players that can hold their own while the starters are on the bench.
"We've had a lot of the girls step up their game," Grooms said. "I feel like our depth is going to be a big positive. That's something we haven't had in a long time. We've had three or four girls that could play on most teams, but we haven't had anyone on the bench that I've really felt comfortable putting in. I feel that this group will be a little deeper then we had been."
Although the girls have done a good job so far, Grooms is going to be able to measure their success with a basketball camp at the University of Florida.
With up to 70 teams in attendance, the Lady Eagles coaching staff will have a better idea of what the team really has.
Besides gauging the team, Grooms is also hoping that some of his players will get noticed.
"We're looking forward to going to the University of Florida. That'll be a real good test for us," Grooms said.
"This is the first trip I've taken with my girls team. It's a group that I trust, and we've got a good staff. I think a lot of positives can come out of it. One is to have the team gel. It seems that whenever we take a trip like that, they get a little closer. There's going to be 70 teams there, so it might be a good opportunity for some college coaches to see some of our kids."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.