Lipscomb Lady Bisons basketball coach Frank Bennett is still working on solidifying his starting lineup.
He is hopeful that Saturday’s exhibition game with Harding at Allen Arena will give him a better idea of who should be playing where. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
“I like where we are at this point,” Bennett said. “I think we are improving. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are seeing some good signs. I’m pleased with the way things are going. We are close to getting some spots set.”
One area of concern is at the post position due to a lack of experience.
Freshman Jess Reece, 6-foot-3, is getting a long look at the post position. Freshmen have ups and downs in making the adjustment from high school to college, but Bennett likes what he has seen in preseason workouts.
“I think Jess has a really good shooting touch around the basket,” Bennett said. “She can score with her left or right hand.
“We would like to see her improve sealing and wanting the ball. We want her to get some more shots. We are also working on her rebounding.”
Challenging Reece is 6-2 sophomore Chelsea McMeans. Bennett likes the competition level.
“They both do good things,” Bennett said. “Chelsea has more experience. Chelsea is a little bit better at shooting the ball facing the basket.
“We are seeing both of them develop their offensive games. We still some progress there.”
Freshman point guard Haley Nelson is working hard to earn playing time. She is competing against senior Miaca Bowman. Senior Jenna Bartsokas could also play some point in addition to the No.2 guard spot.
“Haley has got some really good offensive skills,” Bennett said. “She has impressed us the most with her passing. But she has shot the ball well. She can handle the ball under pressure.
“An area where she needs to make a jump is her defense, particularly away from the ball. She also has to work on her overall intensity jumping from high school to college basketball.”
The point guard position is one of the areas where Bennett is still trying to determine how playing time will be distributed. Bennett’s preseason plan is to use a three-guard lineup with junior Anna Bowers at the No. 3 position. At 5-7 Bennett knows that Bowers is a little undersized for that spot, but he thinks her skills cancel out the height issue.
“Anna is playing with a lot more confidence this year,” Bennett said. “She is athletic. She can really shoot the ball well. And she can defend. She is such a good athlete that she can get some rebounds for us too.”
Senior Valerie Bronson, a wing player, had some strong scoring performances. Bennett expects her to do that again this year, but he would like to see her score in double figures more often.
“Valerie is working really hard,” Bennett said. “She is doing a lot of good things.
“We want to see more consistency from her. We would like to see her have a little better judgment in taking care of the ball and deciding which plays to make.”
Freshman forward O’Neisha Smith possesses a strong work ethic, often staying out on the court after the rest of her teammates are gone.
“O’Neisha is a hard worker in all areas,” Bennett said. “She does a lot on her own. In the classroom she gets extra help. On the court she consults with the coaches and older players about running plays on offense and defense.
“She is also a smart player. She is a very good athlete.”
Junior Brittany Duerk missed 18 days of practice in the preseason due to an injury. She will get playing time at the No. 4 and No. 5 spots.
Sophomore wing Hannah Phillips, a No. 2 and No. 3 player, is also being counted on to play at higher level.
“Hannah does a lot of good things,” Bennett said. “She can run all day. She is a very good defender. She can guard any of the perimeter positions.
“She gets rebounds. She is a good passer. We would like to see her improve her footwork and drive with the basketball more. I think she can be a really good shooter and that she can become more explosive on the drive.”
Junior wing Leah McAlister is also working for playing time.
“Leah as really good offensive skills,” Bennett said. “She is shooting the 3-point shot well. She has a lot of good skills offensively. She is also good defensive rebounder who gets position well.”
Sophomore wing Morgan Faulkner has missed most of preseason due to surgery. She could be back on the court by the end of November or early December.
Freshman Katie Mullins, 5-11, who can play both the post and the wing, was a late addition to the team.
“Katie has been a big help in practice,” Bennett said. “She could help us some this season.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.