COVINGTON — The Alcovy girls basketball team are hoping to build on the success of the past two seasons having made it to the Class AAAAAA Sweet-16 and the Final-Four. The difference is that they’ll be without their two beat players over the past two seasons and a new coaching staff.
“We come in with a whole new set of coaches and our system is a little bit different,” first-year Alcovy head coach David Baker said. “I’m not saying that (players) are 100 percent comfortable with everything because we just started practicing.
“This is going to be a slightly new system. From what I’ve noticed, Coach K had them very disciplined on both sides of the ball. I’m going to do things a little different since I have a variety of girls that can play a variety of positions. We’re going to be very aggressive on the defensive end and we’re going to score a lot of points in transition.”
This is Baker’s third year of coaching girls basketball having coached at an international school in Atlanta in 2002. But due to budget cuts and a soccer program that had more interest than basketball, the program was cut. Even though he has not coached at the high school level since the mid-2000’s, his love for coaching and the game never left him.
“I stayed in the game coaching my son at the rec league just waiting for an opportunity to open up,” Baker said.
Making the transition from Holtzclaw’s team to his team more difficult is the fact that he did not get hired until school almost started and after summer practice was over. Even though the girls did not get a chance to practice under his system, Baker does not think that it’s going to keep them from obtaining their goals.
“I see it as a slight disadvantage only because I didn’t get a chance to see how the gel,” Baker said. “Since August, they’ve gotten together for conditioning in the weight room so I was able to see how they gel. I was very impressed.”
Although the Lady Tigers, who finished the last season with an overall record of 22-7, 12-0 in Region 2-AAAAAA play, have several goals, their first goal is to go undefeated in region play for the third straight year.
Baker feels that the talent developed by Holtzclaw will be the cornerstone to his team. Some of the key players at the center of the Lady Tigers team include senior guards Daja Barnes and Waneisha Morris and junior Ayanna Wimbush.
“The three have been here since they were freshman. They’re unbelievable and breaking down game footage and pure leadership. Those are my three captains next year. They’re leaders both on the court and off the court,” Baker said. “Our other goal is to make sure that we sent our two seniors out on top with a state championship. I have such a great foundation of kids that are still there. We still have a good nucleus, it’s just getting them to continue to trust each other and building that team unity.We have a great opportunity to make it to state this year.”
Aside from a different system, the other obstacle the girls have to overcome is the lingo Baker may use for similar set-ups and plays they are used to. Baker has also been focusing on three keys for being trust, respect and focus.
“The trust comes with the coaching staff. Even though we’re new, they know that we have their best interest in mind. Respect in the coaches and themselves and just focus on the goal. Our No. 1 goal is to have a third season where we go undefeated in the region. It can be challenging because they’re asked to take on different roles.”
A crucial element to the obtaining their goals is to stop teams from scoring easy baskets out of the transition phase while improving their own transition phase and do a better job on their our perimeter shooting.
“I have a variety of players that I’m looking to put points on the board. I have Ayanna Wimbush, I have Tierra Hodges who’s a sophomore and is solid down low. I have Daja and Arlana Barnes that work well around the perimeter. The other girls on the team give the correct offensive movement and balance we always talk about,” Baker said.
“Coach K left me a wealth of talent and we’re really going to be big in the team concept. I a lot of people come out and see these girls play because we have a lot of different girls that can do a lot of different things on the floor. I’m really excited about this upcoming season.”