Freshman lead way for PHCC women

November 13, 2013

With a roster comprised entirely of freshmen, Patrick Henry Community College women’s basketball coach Brian Henderson knows there will be growing pains this year. But after nearly six weeks of practice, he’s also feeling upbeat about his team’s chances.

“I feel very good about our upcoming season,” said Henderson, who enters his second season at the helm of the program. “We have some guards who can really score the ball and put pressure on 11528_654889954542627_1050689732_nyou defensively. We also have some bigs on the inside who really go after rebounds. I think our disadvantage right now is our youth, but we’re focused on being ready at the end of the season more so than expecting to win every game immediately.”

With a guard-heavy lineup, Henderson will ask his players to push the tempo on both ends of the court this season, which begins with a Thursday night road trip to Virginia Western’s gym in Roanoke.

“We’re going to push the tempo as much as possible, get up a lot of shots and pound the ball inside to some of our bigs who can score down low,” he said. “But the most important thing is that we continue to improve as the season goes on.”

Henderson’s roster of 11 players has a nice mix of locals and out-of-towners. Area athletes include Alvalous Barbour (Bassett), Erika Hancock (Franklin County), Khadijha Wilson (Danville), Brittany Hightower (Danville) and Martinsville’s Monisha Manns, who is recovering from an ACL injury. They are paired with teammates from places such as Charleston, S.C., Atlanta and Auckland, New Zealand.

Though his team has made strides since practices began Oct. 1, the playing rotation is far from finalized, according to the Lady Patriots’ head coach.

“We’re going to take advantage of our nonconference season to prepare for the Region X slate (that begins Nov. 24). Starting lineups are not set in stone right now,” he said. “We’re going to find out who plays well together, we’re going to look at chemistry, and we’re going to watch and see which players are getting better every day.”

That being said, Henderson certainly has his eye on a few players that he hopes will develop into leaders on the court.

Wilson, a point guard who Henderson identifies as a potential four-year player when her time at PHCC is done, will be expected to run the team on both ends of the floor. Deonna Young (Winston Salem, N.C.) is a “flat-out shooter” who should be able to stretch the defense, while New Zealand’s Caitlan Tuala brings a well-rounded, “European game,” said Henderson.

In the post, Henderson expects the undersized Hightower to control the boards, and he thinks that once Manns returns from injury – hopefully in the next two or three weeks – she will provide nice scoring and defense in the paint.

“I really feel like everyone has made strides (since practices began), including myself,” said Henderson. “I feel like a lot of these young ladies have made a lot of mistakes all through October, but now that we’re getting into the season, they’re starting to pick up on some of the small mistakes that they were making. I can say confidently that a lot of these young ladies are starting to realize what it takes to be a college athlete. They’re no longer high schoolers.”

And while Henderson and his coaching staff will continue to work on constant improvement, he said they will always harp on the importance of another kind of work – that which comes in the classroom.

“They’re student-athletes and not athlete-students, so we want to make sure we’re emphasizing that every chance that we get,” he said.

The Lady Patriots’ first home game will take place Saturday against Potomac State College.

Filed under: Women's Basketball