BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Bethune-Cookman University Lady Wildcats have put together another great season under the radar.
“That’s even better for us. We don’t do a lot of talking .We just want to show up and play. Every big game that is on our schedule is just the next game. We don’t look forward to it or past any. We have a goal and a mission. We take it one step at a time to reach them,” said Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis.
B-CU is off to a 19-4 start including unbeaten (11-0) in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
Not to mention that the coach is eight months pregnant.
Blair said, “Wherever I go, he goes with me. We’re on this train ride together. He’ll come out when he’s ready. My allegiance as well as my heart is with these ladies and for us to finish off with a perfect season.”
Right players, chemistry
It’s her 10th year heading the program. For the last two and a half seasons, Blair has had the Lady Wildcats playing like a top – going 48-18 overall, 38-5 in the MEAC with two regular season conference titles (15-16, 16-17) and two WNIT appearances (15-16, 16-17).
She said, “It just took some time. It took the right people and the right players, the right chemistry and the right coaching staff. We really got this thing rolling now but all the credit goes to the young ladies. They come in and they really work extremely hard. They listen. They are great people on the court and they are even better people off the court.”
Trio of seniors
The Lady Wildcats are led by a trio of seniors in point guard Emily Williams (6.3 ppg, 3.6 apg) who is a leader; guard Angel Golden (15.4 ppg, 41-percent 3 FGA, 3.4 rpg, 1.7spg) who is a scorer and shooter; along with forward Lindsey Edwards (2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg), the defensive specialist and hustle player.
“If I’m open, I am going to shoot it. They know that. Sometimes, I get carried away but I’m always confident.
This team has great chemistry and we go out there and play hard together,” Golden remarked.
Williams added, “We have a team of players that can do it on any given night. We just don’t rely on one or two players. As the point guard, I absolutely see myself as a leader. We actually have three leaders that make sure that everyone is doing what they need too on and off the court.”
Team of contributors
They also have another scorer in junior guard, Ashanti Hunt (9.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.6 spg, 1 bpg), who can also defend while junior forward/center, Chasimmie Brown (10.7 ppg, 7 rpg, 1.5 bpg) is a post presence.
Freshman guard Brianna Battle (6.6 ppg); redshirt sophomore guard, Briana Hardee (5.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg); freshman forward, Amya Scott (5 ppg, 3.5 ppg) and sophomore guard, Kanesha Battle (3.8 ppg) are some other key contributors. The team has players who can come in and make their mark in any game.
“We don’t like to say that we have a star. We just have players that can score 20 points and grab 15 rebounds on any given night. That’s what makes this team special and not just one or two players that you’re keying on,” added Blair.
Strong on defense
The Lady Wildcats are a defensive-minded team that plays with heart.
“I pride myself on my defense. I don’t mind my role. If we play defense well as a team, we’re doing well,” said Edwards.
Blair echoed, “Defense is our thing. We pride ourselves on defense. We take away what you want to do and not letting you to play the game that you want to play. When we play, we’re not giving up 70 to 80 points. You have to earn every single point.
Blair also sees something special in this year’s squad.
“We started the year looking for consistent scoring after losing a lot from last year, but we’ve figured things out. We have a lot of players who can have a big night on any given night. I’ve always thought this team was better than last year’s. It’s a whole lot more pieces that can contribute.”
The goal is to finally get over the hump by winning the MEAC tournament title and advance to the big dance, which is better known as the NCAA tournament.
“It’s just one game at a time. We have to show up and be ready to play every single game every single night knowing that we will take everybody’s best shot,” noted Blair.
Edwards agrees. “As a team, we just can’t get comfortable, complacent or satisfied with where we ware. We have to keep pushing.”