Elevated intensity, discipline fuel team

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

The women’s basketball team finished with a 13-13 record last year in the Bay Valley Conference and missed earning a playoff berth by one game after finishing the season with only five players.

Comet coach Vince Shaw sees the potential in his team and plans using a reinforced sense of camaraderie and dedication to fuel a resurgence toward BVC title contention.

“I see this group playing well together, more of a team unit. Normally, when that’s the case we have success. We play team basketball and that’s what it is,” Shaw said. “These types of teams normally tend to get better as the year goes on. A team that stays together, works hard and gets better gradually, that’s what we want to see with this group.”

One stabilizing force returning for the Comets is 5 feet 5 inch sophomore guard Dierra Mize. The guard was named to the BVC All-Conference first team last season and plans on building on her individual gains, as well as propelling her team into the postseason.

“I think we’re going to be good. Everyone remembers what happened last year and we don’t want that to happen again. We have to make the extra effort to really stay together,” Mize said.

“This year in practice, we work a lot harder, we communicate better and we try to stick together, even when times get rough. Coach is definitely less tolerant of things that he let go last year. He stays on us about our attitude and the way that we treat our teammates.”

Last season, Mize averaged 10 points per game with five rebounds and nearly three assists.

She was also first in the BVC in minutes played per contest.

As far as coaching styles go, Shaw has reestablished a sense of discipline in practice that many, including Shaw, felt was sorely missing as last season drew to a close.

“They’re willing to accept the coaching, which sometimes has to be critical, harsh, direct and firm to get my message across,” Shaw said. “They are responding perfectly because they want this. It’s different when players have selfish goals and selfish agendas as opposed to having the team agenda.”

Entering his second year as coach for the women’s basketball team, Shaw feels his coaching style fits perfectly with the atmosphere at CCC.

“I think my style fits perfectly here it’s just that now I have people who want to be here, who want to be a part of CCC, that want to be a part of this program. I think my style fits well with those kinds of kids,” he said.

“I’m still looking to improve myself and with that being the case, I expect the team to improve right along with me. I think we’ll be right there again with the chance to close the deal this time.”

Another source of leadership for the Comets this year will come in the form of sophomore guard Jameelah Hanif.

After playing on the Comets 02-03 team, which made the State Championship Game, Hanif returns following a 15-year hiatus and expects to once again contribute to a successful CCC season.

Hanif has been practicing with her teammates since July and sets the bar unexpectedly high for this relatively young Comet squad.

“We have a lot of talent on our team. I think we can make it,” Hanif said. “I want to be a natural leader starting by getting the team to connect off the court. I want them to know what makes them better is what happens as a team off of the court.”