The University Heights Lady Blazers are gearing up for hoops season and head coach Derrick E. Hickman is ready to get going. Their season opener is Tuesday Nov. 29 as they host the Caldwell County Lady Tigers with tip off at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re going to work hard, our numbers are low, but I got some players that are returning, they’re young but they’ve been around a couple years and it helps out,” Hickman said. “I got a group of girls that’s been together for a couple years and it helps out, so I think we’ll be more tough offensively.”
He said they’ve added a couple young freshmen, but thinks they’ll be okay as they have a total of seven players heading into the season. Hickman said that’s just enough.
The Lady Blazers have just one senior in Amariya Bass, but Hickman said she’s a good leader and is expecting her to lead them. He said they’ll go as far as she’ll take them.
“She’s been around this program since she was in the eighth grade, so she’s been around,” Hickman said. “I’m depending on her for leadership.”
He also touched on sophomore Alecia Davis, who was their leading scorer last year and is expected to bring a lot of leadership. Hickman said he also expects a lot out of sophomore LeeLee Love, who joined the team after Christmas last season and led the team in rebounds. He said the team has two freshmen and that the new players will get a lot done for the team this season.
When it comes to the on-court play, Hickman said not to count them out. Their motto for the team is to play hard and do the right thing. But that doesn’t just apply to the court as he said he wants to them to do the right in the classroom.
“That’s our motto, do the right thing, all the time, that grows winners when you do the right thing,” Hickman said.
He said they’ll be a team that’s in control and that a lot of teams will try to press them because of their numbers, but that if they can just come down, run a good offense and set things up, they’ll be okay.
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Coming into this season, he said the returning players will know that they can win and that they barely got knocked out last year and got confidence from that.
“So now, they’re confident to win the district,” Hickman said. “My goal is to win the district.”
The key to winning the district is for all the girls to be on the same page Hickman said.
“Hard work and defense, if we can get a good solid defensive set, we’ll be okay,” Hickman said.
Defensively he said they’ll have to play a lot of matchup zones because of their numbers. If they get into the man to man, they’ll get into a lot of foul trouble and said he has to protect them as much as he can through the full court. He said the challenge he’s most worried about this season will be situations where they get in foul trouble and who will step up. Hickman said if he can protect them, then they’ll be okay.
“We gotta stay out of foul trouble, play smart, block out and control the game,” Hickman said.
Offensively he said there’s going to be a lot of passing, cutting, lot of high screens, whatever they can do to get Davis into the middle of the floor.
“She can score, she can strip the basketball, she’s a sophomore, but she’s been around for three years,” Hickman said. “If I can get her to control the floor, make the right decisions, she’s my key.”
He also said if he has his senior, Bass, she can come in and be a senior and give them some leadership. When it comes to what people should be most excited about, he said hard working girls and that they’re going to be better than they were last year and surprise a lot of teams.