Bobcat women eyeing PBC Championship, NCAA tourney bid
Despite having a rough beginning to the season, the GC women’s basketball team is remaining optimistic as their season gets underway.
“I knew we had to hit shots and shoot a really good percentage from the offensive end, and we didn’t do that,” said Bobcats’ head coach Maurice Smith of his team’s opening-game loss.
Although the first few games have not gone as hoped for, senior forward Alyah McGriff is excited for the rest of the season.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement, and we have a lot of potential,” McGriff said. “I think we can reach that full potential when we need to, during conference time.”
The team worked on strength and conditioning during the preseason to make sure they were in prime shape. Kurt Reinhard is the team’s strength and conditioning coach and has been diligently working with the players.
“He does a phenomenal job with our program, and we always feel like we’re in great shape because of the
work that he does,” Smith said.
The team officially started practicing on Oct. 15, giving them only three weeks to prepare for the season. With multiple freshmen joining this year, the team is working on building chemistry together, both on and off the court.
Upperclassmen like McGriff and junior shooting guard Sydney Cleveland have taken on more leadership-focused roles on the team to help the freshmen acclimate with the team to create that chemistry. “Answering any questions
and really being there for the teammates is one of my priorities,” Cleveland said.
In addition to growing chemistry, the team looks to improve both offensively and defensively.
In practices, the team focuses on creating and taking shots, rebounding, free throws and preventing their opponent from scoring. One big goal for the season is allowing only 14 turnovers per game to prevent opposing teams from gaining more scoring opportunities. The team is working hard to improve and reach these goals through practice.
“Coach always tells us practices need to be harder than the game,” Cleveland said. “They need to be tougher than the game.”
The team is looking to win the Peach Belt Tournament this year. According to Smith, the goals that the team has set will push them into a good position to win.
“We want a Peach Belt Championship and we want to make it to the NCAA Tournament,” McGriff said. “Those are two of our goals right now. We plan on doing that by winning all home games [and] winning at least half of our away games.”
The team has high aspirations for the season but have a shot of performing well. “Overall, [I’m] super happy with our team,” Smith said. “I love our team attitude. These young ladies are super fun to coach. They’re high energy. They work hard. It’s really a pleasure to get a chance to work with them, and there’s no doubt that I think we’re going to have an amazing year.”