Clarksville, Ark.-The 2012-2013 University of the Ozarks women?s basketball team will need to replace all five starters from a year ago, but Head Coach Carl Ramsey?s young squad has a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm entering the season.
Finding replacements for all five starters isn’t easy, but the veteran coach Carl Ramsey doesn’t seem rattled by challenge, even though each of those starters were seniors.
“It is the first time I ever remember having to replace five starters who were seniors,” said Ramsey, who finished 13-13 a year ago. “The negative thing is you obviously lack experience. But what you gain is a new enthusiasm. Our practices have been pretty intense and everyone has been getting after it. That is something we can build on. They are trying to prove themselves because they know it is wide open.”
Ramsey has built momentum within the program as he has guided his team to back-to-back post-season appearances. And, he can lean on a number of capable players as replacements. The backcourt is the most experienced position with the senior duo of Chelsea Glasscock and Jordyn Ferrell.
“Our two seniors are really the only players that have any experience,” said Ramsey. “We will look to them for leadership. Chelsea has the most experience on the team. She shoots a high percentage from the three-point line. She does a great job of getting us into our offense. She is consistent and takes care of the ball. Jordyn is not a flashy player, but at the end of the game she fills up the stat column. She can do a little bit of everything. She plays good defense. She usually has to guard the opponent’s best player.”
With a youthful team, it is important for the squad to handle adversity in a positive fashion, according to Ramsey.
“We are too young and inexperienced to have things not go wrong,” he said. “It will be key that our players respond to adversity by handling it properly. With an inexperienced group, I don’t know how they will react to it.”
Ozarks lost nearly 90 percent of its offense and three All-Conference players. It is indeed a large task at hand, but one that Ramsey believes can be filled by new starters. Ramsey’s offenses have always been known to include good outside shooters, and this season shouldn’t be any different. Last season, the Lady Eagles hit 139 three-pointers.
The 5-foot-3 Glasscock made 27 of her 73 three-point attempts to average nearly four points per game. Glasscock, who also dished out 45 assists and recorded 22 steals, has hit 40 percent of her career three-point shots. Ferrell, a 5-foot-9 forward, is expected to have a big year after averaging over three points and two rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Jordana Andrews saw action in nine games last season, but will be counted upon to play a much bigger role this year. 5-foot-9 junior forward Tamara Wilkett can score in bunches and has the ability to play more minutes this season. Freshmen Ashley Hipps, Libby Nepivoda and RaShelle Goldman can shoot beyond the arc, too. Transfer Annabel Fidler and sophomore Jessica Milloway give the Lady Eagles more options from the perimeter.
“I think we have some shooters,” said Ramsey. “We have some players that can hit the three-pointer and make moves. We really don’t have that go-to or star player. As odd as it sounds, that may be our strength and may be our weakness. I think we are more balanced. Obviously, we have to have people step up. Somebody has to be the one who wants the ball. Someone has to emerge in that role.”
Shoring up the inside game is perhaps the team’s most talented player. Sophomore Taylor Farmer is athletic and can use both hands around the basket. She averaged only two points per game, but exploded for 14 points in a playoff-clinching game against Texas-Tyler. She had six rebounds in her first collegiate game. At 6-foot-1, Farmer can be a defensive presence, too.
“Taylor has the tools to be whatever she wants to be,” he said. “The only person that can stop her is herself. If she doesn’t play the way she did against Texas-Tyler last year, we probably don’t make the playoffs. She needs to get more consistency. It will be important for Taylor and our two seniors to step up. The other players have to see them work hard every day. I think we can count on them.”
Farmer will be joined by sophomore forward Kindra Davis inside. The left-handed Davis has seen limited action due to an injury, but plays solid defense and is a good rebounder. Returners Shawnee Sorensen and Jessica Murch along with newcomers Baylea Swearingen, Magen LaRosa and Haley McKee provide the Lady Eagles with depth in the paint.
Ramsey’s teams are also known for their hard-nosed defense. In order for Ozarks to gain its third straight playoff berth, the Lady Eagles must be able to play solid team defense.
“In this league you are not going to outscore people,” said Ramsey. “We are not going to outrun people. We will have to play tough defense. We will have some growing pains, but I like their attitude and chemistry. I think I will get the effort out of them. My very first rule is that if you don’t play hard, you don’t play at all. I feel comfortable in that they will get after it.”