On Friday, Maggie brought you a quick recap of what went down at Hoops media day. Today, I’m going to give you a little more about what we learned about this year’s team. It was a fun day and I’m excited to get back in Memorial on Nov. 3.
Matthew Mitchell hasn’t had to coach effort this year
It’s no secret that Coach Mitchell expects greatness out his players and pushes them hard, but something new about this season is that he hasn’t had to coach effort, it just comes to this group. Each day they have the drive to get better as a person and as player.
“You can really go in and coach basketball, and you can really go in and talk to them about what they need to do to get better as a player,” Mitchell said. “But even when they are making mistakes, there’s an attitude of just resilience and bounce back, accept the coaching, move forward.”
This is where the team’s mantra of ONE comes into action. Mitchell has instilled the theme of one for this season, that is that they are all one team, one until moving forward to reach their goals. Mitchell believes they understand that while they’re a talented group, they’re not the most talented group in the county and so they can’t have lapses of judgment or responsibility.
Mackenzie Cann is going to be big addition this year
Cann arrived on campus last season after a transfer from the University of Cincinnati. Since Cann started playing basketball in the 6th grade, she has consistently been a shooting guard. However, because she is 5’11, this year she may transition between a shooting guard, joining Maci Morris and Makayla Epps in the back court, and a forward in the front court with Evelyn Akhator and Alyssa Rice.
“Makenzie is a very versatile player. The thing that I like most about her is that she is willing to do whatever it takes. So she will just say, “I’ll do whatever you need me to do,” and that is very, very valuable on a team. And so her size allows her to do different things,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell appreciates the core six that stuck around
It’s no secret the month following the end of last season was a hot mess. After Mitchell lost half his roster and all of his coaching staff, only six players remained. And for that, Mitchell is grateful.
“I can tell you, I love those kids. A lot of tough times. A lot of hard days that you are trying to figure out exactly what’s going on and they just were rock solid throughout that, and yeah, so I love them. I love those kids and I love the six that came through. Love this team. They are remarkable young women,” Mitchell said.
The majority, if not all, of this year’s starting line up will come from the core six players. While Mitchell anticipates the bench to go 8-9 deep, he will definitely be relying on those six a tremendous amount this season.
But the walk-on’s have been a great asset
Following a tryout on Sept. 30, Mitchell added two new walk-ons, Paige Poffenberger and Rachel Potter.
“And so it’s been amazing to watch these kids come in here and how hard they work, and what gives them all a chance to really help us and impact us in a positive way is how hard they work and then God’s given them enough that they can come in and do some things,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said that the addition of the walk-ons have really enhanced the team’s practice because he has to teach them, not things like fundamentals but just enough to get them caught up to speed in SEC basketball.