Newcomers hope to lead Lady Eagles renaissance
N.C. Central guards Jessica Freeman and Khyra Conerly are guaranteeing that second-year Lady Eagles coach Vanessa Taylor will experience more than two wins this time around.
“We’re going to turn some heads this season,” Freeman said Tuesday during NCCU’s media day. “It won’t be a two-game season like last year.”
NCCU beat Savannah State twice last season. That was it. Just two wins.
As confident as Freeman and Conerly are about the upcoming season, neither of them have ever suited up for NCCU.
Freeman is a graduate student who transferred from UNC Wilmington with a year of basketball eligibility remaining.
Conerly was with NCCU last season but sat out due to an NCAA rule that requires players to miss a year when transferring from one Division I school to another.
After arriving from Northern Arizona, Conerly had to watch the Eagles suffer through 28 losses — and just those two wins. She is itching to get on the floor.
“Shaking right now,” Conerly said. “Ready to play.”
Conerly and Freeman are just two of the 10 new faces for the Eagles, and Taylor should get a better look at what she has when her team goes to Raleigh for an Oct. 31 scrimmage against Division II Saint Augustine’s. Although it’s Taylor’s second season at NCCU, she still finds herself with a rather sizable breaking-in process.
“It’s new for the young women, but every team is different every year for a coach, regardless of whether I have 11 new or 11 returning. They’re not the same players,” Taylor said. “Realistically, it does take time for students to learn the system. But we’re very impatient when it comes to putting things together and winning and losing.
“We’re not waiting.”
Senior Tiffany Gary and sophomore Tisha Dixon are Taylor’s only returning players.
Last year’s Eagles were a team of eight. Chasidy Williams was a senior and is now playing overseas. There was a walk-on who no longer is with the team, as well as others who either transferred or stayed at NCCU on academic scholarships, Taylor said.
Taylor said it’s too soon for her to name a starting five. Right now, it’s about developing chemistry and doing a little physical science in practice, she said.
“They’re duking it out every day in practice and competing,” Taylor said.