Newcomers Add Depth to @LATechWBB Post
Oct. 9, 2017
RUSTON – Louisiana Tech enters its second full week of official team workouts with head coach Brooke Stoehr and Co. continuing preparation for the Nov. 10 season opener just one month away.
Through the first nine days on the floor, Stoehr has been pleased with the everyday effort on the court from her young bunch.
“After having a full week of practice, the newness or excitement can sometimes wear off and affect energy level,” said Stoehr. “I was pleased with the consistency of the group from an effort standpoint. We have spent a good deal of time focusing on our defensive positioning and our tempo offensively.
“We will continue the installation of offensive and defensive schemes this week. The group continues to compete and that is what we want from them each day. We are building for February and March.”
One of the challenges for Tech is the addition of so many newcomers. Eight of the 14 players on the roster have never suited up for the Lady Techsters, creating a learning curve during the early stages of team workouts.
“With seven newcomers on the roster there has been some additional teaching time and just making sure everyone is catching on to the terminology and language we use,” said Stoehr. “Learning the language will take time and repetition each day, but the returners are doing a good job of communicating and demonstrating what has become the norm for them.”
Stoehr knows the importance of a good post game in women’s basketball. During her playing days in a Lady Techster uniform, the current LA Tech bench boss had the luxury of feeding the post to players like Amanda Wilson, Cheryl Ford, Ayana Walker and Takeisha Lewis.
This year’s LA Tech team returns a pair of experienced post players in senior Alexus Malone and junior Reauna Cleaver. However, Tech boasts four newcomers whom will provide much-needed depth to the position in junior Zhanae Whitney, red-shirt sophomore Nikki McDonald and true freshmen Macaela Crone and MaKayla Johnson.
Malone averaged 11.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest last year for Tech while shooting 55 percent from the field while Cleaver averaged 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds while hitting 51 percent of her shots. However, with the graduation of Keivone Moten and Ashley Santos and the transfer of Jasmine LeBlanc, Tech needed to add some quality depth inside for the upcoming year.
Whitney brings junior college experience to Ruston after playing the past two years at Collin County where she was a two-year starter on back-to-back conference championship teams. The 6-foot forward left as the program’s all-time career-rebounding leader, something that has been seen on a daily basis in practice.
“Zhanae has brought consistent energy on both ends of the floor for us and is being vocal for the group,” said Stoehr. “She has a knack for finding the ball when it goes up and is doing a nice job of creating extra possessions for her team from a rebounding standpoint. Z is a very good teammate and does a solid job of doing the little things that often go unnoticed but yet create winning moments in games.”
McDonald will also provide some experience in the post after playing her true freshman season at Elon and then sitting out last year due to the NCAA transfer rule. McDonald made 16 starts at Elon and Stoehr said she is pleased with the transformation from the 6-foot forward during the off year.
“Nikki is moving extremely well,” said Stoehr. “She used her redshirt year to get better both physically and mentally, and we are seeing it pay off. She has brought a consistent level of energy and effort every day on both ends of the floor, and her versatility to play both on the inside and on the perimeter is a big positive for the team.”
Crone and Johnson are both true freshman that bring needed size to the court, each measuring 6-foot-2. Crone averaged over 27 points per game during her final three years at A.E. Peacock Collegiate in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada while leading the program to three Gold City Championships and three Gold Provincial Championships.
“Mac came in this summer still not having been cleared from her ACL reconstruction in late January,” said Stoehr. “She worked extremely hard with Mandy (Miller) and Blake (Talos) this summer and made tremendous progress to be where she is right now. She is getting valuable reps in practice and learning each day to compete at this level and adjusting to the speed of the game. Mac is a diligent worker and has shown her willingness to compete. She will add depth to our interior with her size and length.”
Johnson signed with Tech out of Crowley High School in Texas. She possesses a more prototypical post player build, something Stoehr said she uses to her advantage in the paint.
“MaKayla provides a strong body inside to bang with our interior players,” said Stoehr. “She is learning what it means to compete and work at this level on a daily basis. She has good touch around the rim and does a nice job of creating space and maintaining position offensively. Her strength and size will be an added benefit for us as she gains confidence by putting in the work consistently.”
The Techsters play 16 home games this year, starting with its opener on Nov. 10 against Grambling State. Season tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling the Tech Ticket Office at 318-257-3631 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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