Notes: Cowles, players ready to play

Cole Claybourn

Lady Toppers Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said the players are ready to finally get to play against someone other than themselves.

For nearly a month, it’s been strictly practices and intersquad scrimmages for the Lady Toppers.

Senior guard Hope Brown said it simply: “I’m tired of practicing. I’m ready to play.”

Lady Toppers still have work to do:

Despite an extended practicing period, Cowles said the Lady Toppers still have plenty of work to do before their first official game on Nov. 16, saying she doesn’t think the team is “even close to where she thought they’d be.”

“There are days when I walk out of practice and I think we worked really hard, and that’s what you really look for – to see the work ethic and the commitment,” she said. “These young ladies are very committed and are working very hard.

“But there are also those things every day when I walk off the court and rub my head a little bit and think, ‘Maybe we didn’t quite understand that, or maybe I’m not coaching that the right way. What can I do differently to help them understand better?'”

Following two exhibition games, the Lady Toppers will have nine days of rest before they play at Louisiana Tech Nov. 16. Cowles said the long break will be tough because once the players have played a game, they get into the “playing mindset,” and it’s tough to go that long without playing a game.

However, they won’t be practicing on all nine of those days. Part of the new NCAA rule that allows women’s teams to practice 40 days prior to their first official game also requires them to sit out at least 10 of those days. Cowles said they still have a few of those days to get in.

“We’re going to try to take advantage of that time, and those days off came at a nice time,” she said. “That will be good preparation time to work on things for Louisiana Tech.”

Cowles searching for positives in scrimmage

Cowles said she likes the value that two exhibition games bring and is ready to see just how much the team has improved since beginning practice on Oct. 7.

“Hopefully we’ll see a group of young ladies that can demonstrate our ability to get up and down the floor, both offensively and defensively. Transition has always been very good to us, and we need to continue to capitalize on our ability to transition.

“We need to extend the floor defensively and get on the boards. We need to try to make a statement and use our ability and athleticism.”

Junior forward Teranie Thomas said the two exhibition games are important because they can test out their plays against teams that are unfamiliar with them and judge their effectiveness against certain defenses.

Game to be a Homecoming for several players

Warren East grad and former WKU recruiting target Ashley Rainey will play for Lindsey Wilson after transferring from Louisville.

Cowles said playing against someone like Rainey, a 6-2 forward, will provide a good challenge for the post players.

“She showed her ability during her high school career, which we’re all very familiar with, and that will be a great presence (in the post),” she said.

Cowles said she’s happy for Rainey to get to come back and play in front of her family and friends. She said the same goes for Warren Central graduate Diondra Anthony and Franklin-Simpson graduate Britney Payne.

“It’s very good for our fans to have that – to see those familiar faces,” she said. “If those young ladies aren’t playing here and we have the ability to take advantage of bringing them back so that local fans can watch them. I think that’s a win-win situation.”

Cowles: No starting five has been set yet

Cowles said she’s liked what the entire team has brought to practice so far, making it tough to decide on a starting five.

She said she doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in who starts or not, and added that “it’s not how you start, but how you finish.”