Saturday, January 22, 2011

The turnaround

What a difference a year makes. The dynamics of Bearkat men's and women's basketball have changed, completely. While the guys struggle to find consistency with a 2-3 Southland Conference start, the ladies have stormed to 5-0 in league play for only the second time in school history (1998).

But last year to the date, the men's team was making its case as the best in the SLC, after holding off a late-game rally to defeat UT-Arlington at Texas Hall. The Bearkats were holding their own, but started with a par 2-2 league record after an overtime home victory over UTA, the first of four OT battles the Bearkats would find themselves in (3-1).

The implications were clear in 2010. The Bearkat men were leaders of the pact, while the women were in for a Katfight.

2011 presents new implications. This season, the women have three likely all-conference performers in Britni Martin, Sequeena Thomas and Chanice Smith; the way last year's men had Gilberto Clavell, Corey Allmond and Ashton Mitchell.

The guys are over-relying on Clavell this season, but more than anything, they're just not quite as good as they were a year ago.

The ladies are considerably better. In these five conference wins, the Bearkats have won four of them by double digits and the other by nine. Not only are they winning, but they're doing it convincingly, the way the men eventual did last season.

What seperates the women's success from the men's failure this season is depth. Coach Brenda Nichols is getting production from role players like Zoe Tucker and Jaleesa Thomas. Freshman Nyha Carter has been an emphatic presence.

Coach Brenda Nichols has the luxury of resting her starters after a lead builds, or in case they get in early foul trouble. Men's first year head coach Jason Hooten can't do that, just yet.

Of course the season is still young and there could be more turnarounds to come. As for today, it's incredible the difference a year makes.

- Brandon Scott
SHSU Athletics

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