My friend Grumpy had gone to a previous practice, so I called him up and he used his connections to get us an invite to practice. Little did I know they are practicing every day at 8 or 8:30 AM. 8:00 today. So I got up at 5:00 so I would not be late . It turned out it was well worth it.
We had nice conversations with Coach Thompson and Coach Belke. Something very different from my previous visits to practices, Head Coach Box came over and spent about 25 minutes with us during the early part of practice and talked to us again after practice, as did Coach Thompson.
We actually picked a great day to go as we had hired 3 college refs and we had a full scrimmage of the Women’s team vs the Boys practice squad. The Boys actually won when a loose ball got kicked and rolled to a guy standing under the basket who got fouled and made both free throws with one second to go, giving the Guys a 73-72 win.
Of the 4 girls returning Katie Richason is much improved. She has slimmed down and is smoother and quicker and is going to be pretty good this season. Soph Riley Neal looks better also, she may or may not earn a spot in the rotation.
Starting lineup today was Richason, Tretter, and Jada Scott at Forwards and Luu-Brown and Edwards at the guards. That gave us 3 6-1’s and a 6-0 shooting guard with Luu-Brown at the point. Coach Box said that 6-2 Jaydyn Scott is our best player but is out for a couple of weeks, although she looked to be moving well in some drills. I would expect the 3 forwards I listed and Jaydyn Scott will rotate at the 3 forward positions. We are actually playing a system where different girls run into the paint and post and other girls are cutting to the bucket. We got a lot of movement and a ton of layups and very few turnovers. I also mentioned the two girls who are starting at guards. I would expect Jiminez and Huhn to also rotate in and get some minutes at guard. So that is an 8 girl rotation. Four of them are true freshmen. Neal would probably be the 9th player and I am not sure if she will get regular time or not.
Considering what our roster looked like when Coach Box got the job and how the transfer portal was just ending for the year and almost all the good players were already taken, this roster is far more advanced than I would have guessed. Coach hired an impressive staff and things are coming together nicely. Of course our non league schedule is maybe the toughest I can remember and we have mostly road games, but considering just how far they have come this quickly and seeing how hungry the girls seem to be to learn and get better we might be pretty good as the year progresses.
Coach Box told Grumpy and I about the daily schedule and they are putting a whole lot on the girl’s table. They are providing breakfast before practice and a lunch after practice before they send them of to classes and the girls are also coming back later for individual work. They have a couple of girls on special programs involving rehab from injuries and strength and conditioning. After the scrimmage was over the girls could leave but most of them stayed and all the queens ( name given to the big girls) stayed and worked on drills involving footwork and scoring, and the drills put them in the exact situations they will be in as they run their offense. Because everything is so well organized Coach Box had the time to sit down with us and talk as the coaches and girls knew exactly what to do with no instruction from him.
On the zoom call tonight, one of the coaches mentioned that the lowest midterm grade that any of the players had was one B-. It was also mentioned that the girls have probably spent the most hours of community service time of any of the Miami teams.
They are trying to get some donations to help pay for the nutritional program they have the girls on and also some equipment they are purchasing in tandem with the men. So any of you who stopped donating to the program because of the frustration with the previous coach, if we get behind this staff they are going to deliver.
We have two verbal commits for next year ( national signing day is coming up), one a point guard from NE Ohio ( highly skilled, I have seen the videos) and the other a 6-3 girl from the Netherlands. Coach Box believes in recruiting all over the world, much like our highly successful Field hockey coach. On our roster right now we have two Canadians, a girl from China, and a Girl from Spain. And I just mentioned we will be signing a girl from the Netherlands. Even our Americans are from all over as we have a player from California, two from Georgia, one from North Carolina, and one from Iowa. Our “local” girls are one from Ohio, one from Kentucky, and two from Indiana.