Tamiko Benton is trying to adapt.
The Augusta State senior forward, one of four returning players off last year's 13-15 basketball team, has a new coach with a new philosophy which translates into more discipline. Oh, and one other thing.
"I think he's more in depth as far as defense," Benton said. "We haven't focused as much on defense as we have lately. And I'm understanding it a lot more, how defensively everything works."
The 33-year-old Wilson was hired in April as the sixth women's basketball coach in the school's history. In the past two seasons at Middle Georgia College, Wilson accumulated a 50-7 record, including a 31-2 season last year with a trip to the national tournament.
Wilson isn't the only newcomer, though. Eight players have been added to this year's squad, including three from Middle Georgia.
"I think we've got a team that's going to be competitive this year," Wilson said. "That was one of my goals coming in as a new coach."
Justine Pivac may be the biggest addition to the team. At 6-foot-2, the New Zealander who broke her foot last year, will give the Lady Jaguars a presence in the low post along with Benton.
Also, Middle Georgia transplants 6-1 April Hartley and 5-10 Faith Nixon will add size at the power forward position, while junior college transfer Krystal Edwards has range at shooting guard.
"I think we're deeper than last year's team," Wilson said. "Hopefully, I've added some talent at key spots that will make us more formidable."
"This year we have a lot more fundamentally sound girls," senior point guard Christy Bromley said. "We have someone for every spot. While we have a few injuries I don't think we're down and out."
Bromley, Benton and small forward Katie Lawrence, who broke her left hand earlier this fall but has returned to practice, are the three returning starters. The other returner, center Paris Brooklyn, recently had knee surgery and is out for another two weeks. Also, former Augusta Christian star Valery Chrjapin, who transferred from Armstrong Atlantic State, is still rehabilitating a torn Achilles tendon and won't return until late December.
The main thing, Augusta State will have to work on, though, is a bruised ego. The Lady Jaguars were picked to finish in a tie for last place in the Peach Belt conference along with USC Aiken.
"The coaches in the conference voted us last, but I can understand why they did that," Benton said. "We've got a new coach and they really don't know what we have returning. But that just makes us want to really work hard this year and prove them wrong."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 114.
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