Clarksville, Ark.-Head coach Jack Jones' philosophy this season will bring about a change in the way the 2002-2003 Lady Eagles play.
Jones will rely on a heavy dose of capable and experienced guards to offset the loss of two all-conference 6-1 post players. Despite the change of personnel, Jones believes his team will again play a competitive brand of basketball and compete for a conference title. "We are changing our whole philosophy of our game this year," said Jones, who will be gunning for his 350th career win at Ozarks. "We are going from a team that has been dominated and driven by post players to a team that will rely heavily on our guards. Our guards will have to really step up and do a lot more controlling of the game than they have in the past." A pair of talented upperclassmen return for the Lady Eagles. Junior forward Jenna Corbell and senior guard Kristy Watts are each versatile players who are expected to continue their scoring ways from a year ago. Corbell, a 5-8 wing player who earned second team ASC All-East division honors last season, averaged 10.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Watts, a 5-7 shooting guard, was an honorable mention All-East division pick last year after averaging 9.7 points and shooting 83 percent from the free throw line. "Jenna has the capability of being an All-American this year," said Jones. "She is going to be a key offensive weapon for us. She has great hands and has the uncanny ability to finish around the basket. I see a lot of good things happening with her. I’m also looking for Kristy to do some major scoring." Junior college transfers Tiffany Villines (Kingston) and Rachael Marble (Altus) both are excellent shooters and add a scoring punch at the guard spot. Sophomores Kerri Hughes and DeAnna Miller along with the return of junior Jamie Johnson bring experience to the guard rotation. Freshmen Lori Moon (Rogers) and Becky Kimball (St. Paul) will add more talent to the backcourt. "Depth at the guard position is a real strength on the team," said Jones. "I think we can sub and not really lose ground. However, we have to have some younger kids step up in the post position. We need to improve on our rebounding as a team. We need to block out better and use effort to offset our size disadvantage on the inside." The lone returning inside player for the Lady Eagles is sophomore Abigail Hendricks. Hendricks will team up with freshmen Mandi Carter (Clarksville) and Kate Byrd (Little Rock). Senior forward Melissa Spears and junior forward Jennifer Goodwin will play the wing position for the Lady Eagles. The Lady Eagles, who were 19-7 last season, were co-champions of the American Southwest Conference East Division a year ago and were one win shy of earning a trip to the NCAA III tournament. Last season’s conference playoff appearance has the team ready for a tough schedule that includes a challenging first five games. "I don’t think anyone plays a more difficult schedule in our conference in their first five games than us," said Jones. "You’ve got to be ready to play every night in this league. I believe the conference champion on our side will have three losses. Our seniors and juniors have to do a good job of stepping up during those first five games." The Lady Eagles tip off the season on November 22 at home against College of the Ozarks.