Lady Eagles taking time to recover
So far, not so good for Vanessa Taylor, N.C. Central’s first-year women’s basketball coach.
It’s beginning to look a lot like the 2011-12 season for the Lady Eagles, who still are winless after 14 games.
Taylor replaced longtime coach Joli Robinson, whose contract was not renewed after NCCU finished 3-27 a year ago.
Two of those wins came before Christmas against Morris College and Coker College. NCCU picked up its lone MEAC win against Savannah State.
In December, NCCU lost by 40 on the road to MEAC rival N.C. A&T. Taylor said the moment was too big for most of her players.
NCCU gets into the thick of its conference schedule on Jan. 12 in Tallahassee, Fla., against Florida A&M.
Taylor said the MEAC is one tough conference, but the thought of NCCU not winning a single game this season hasn’t caused her to lose any sleep because a defeatist attitude is not the way to go about the business of basketball.
The injury bug that has bitten the Lady Eagles, though, certainly would be enough to annoy Taylor.
NCCU started the season with eight players on its active roster, but injuries and illness forced the Lady Eagles to go at it with as few as six players.
“It’s just been a barrage of things that have been thrown at them, and I have been really so proud of the way that they have fought through,” Taylor said. “Despite injuries or anything that’s been thrown at them, the young women have continued to play hard.”
Taylor said she was able to step away from the day-to-day grind of coaching and spend time with family during the holidays.
There was some business mixed with that pleasure, as Taylor returned to her Georgia roots and dropped in on some high school basketball games for a little recruiting.
“We’re always looking for now, but we’re also looking for the future,” Taylor said.
Right now, NCCU has issues, namely that their best player, redshirt senior Chasidy “CC” Williams, injured an ankle against UNC Greensboro on Dec. 19 and joined the wounded Lady Eagles.
Williams, NCCU’s leading scorer at 10.5 points per game, was expected to miss three weeks.
One of the things that has figured into NCCU’s 0-14 start is that it has taken Williams a while to get her offense going after the opening tip. She eventually finds her groove, but that often has been after the opposing team has a lead.
Taylor said Williams’ injury won’t make her slow starts any slower.
Williams is a major part of what NCCU wants to do offensively, and she understands that the team will rely on her ability and leadership as the Lady Eagles get ready for what lies ahead in the MEAC, Taylor said.
“Generally, with your senior year, there’s a sense of urgency,” Taylor said of Williams. “She is pressing to try to get herself back because she knows that her team, that her coaches are depending on her. She accepted that responsibility, and it’s her senior year — she wants to be out there.”
Guard Montreshia Perry remains out of the lineup under a physician’s care, Taylor said.
The Lady Eagles have shown some grit, with freshman Tisha Dixon battling back after sitting out when she sustained a concussion against North Carolina on Dec. 12.
NCCU junior Tiffany Gary had a gimpy ankle when the Lady Eagles played Gardner-Webb on Dec. 22, and she hurt the other during the game.
“But she was able to finish the game like a warrior,” Taylor said.
That was NCCU’s most recent game, creating a long gap before the Lady Eagles’ visit FAMU.
Ideally, NCCU wouldn’t be away from competition for such an extended period of time, but there’s some benefit to that, Taylor said.
“I’m sure that with our young women and the small numbers that we have, they probably needed the days of rest,” Taylor said.