ASSISTANTS: Cowles’ colleagues key to Lady Tops’ resurgence

Josh Buckman

This Saturday when Western women’s basketball team begins the season with an exhibition against the Houston Jaguars, they will do it with a revamped coaching staff.

While Mary Taylor Cowles appointment as Lady Topper head coach has been highly publicized, the team will also look to assistants David Graves, Kyra Elzy and Carrie Daniels to help return the team to national prominence.

Graves served as Lady Toppers assistant coach for five years after graduating from Western in 1991. After his tenure as assistant coach ended, he assumed the role of head coach at Division I Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

“It’s good opportunity to get back to Western,” said Graves, who serves as associate head coach. “Short-term / long-term (goals) are to help Mary get this program back to where we want to see them competing for national championships and conference championships.”

Besides experience, Cowles feels that Graves brings a never-give-up attitude, that will help the team return to the winning ways of the past.

“Another thing about Graves is his optimistic attitude,”Cowles said. “There’s nothing that can’t be accomplished. There’s nothing that’s too big of a problem. He brings a welcome sense of calmness to any situation.”

Elzy brings in a tremendous amount of experience to the Hill after playing for Tennessee, where she won two national championships. While there, she gained a lot of her coaching knowledge from legendary Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt.

“My players and my colleagues say that I have a lot of Pat in me,” the former Tennessee guard said. “I demand a lot out of my players, and I expect a lot out of myself, so I think I was around Pat just a little too long. She’s rubbed off on me.”

Cowles admits that having Elzy on the coaching staff is the icing on the cake.

“Kyra has definitely been a part of this staff that we needed,” Cowles said. “Kyra’s got more energy than Carrie and David and I all put together including the 12 girls on our basketball team.”

The only member of the coaching staff returning with the same job is Daniels. She believes her experience as a player during rebuilding years at Austin Peay will help rebuild Western’s program.

Does this make sense?

“I went into the program in a rebuilding process so I to experience both sides,” Daniels says. “Although, you don’t always like going through those down years, but I do think I learned a lot of experience.”

Cowles appreciates the honesty and calmness that Daniels shows while conducting her duties as assistant coach.

“Carrie doesn’t jump to extremes on any situation,” Cowles said. “She pretty much sits back and takes it all in, and I need that.”

Players seem to have adjusted to the new staff as well.

“I think there has been a transition phase, but I think we’ve got over that,” senior forward Shayla Reese said. “It’s more now where we know what’s expected from us, so now it has gotten to where we just play basketball.”

While it seems that the transition phase has passed, the real test for this young coaching staff will start Saturday, when the regular season begins.