By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Last season when the Millington Lady Trojans were in trouble on offense, a guard would just toss the ball inside to Glenda Garner or Tamia Aldridge.
Garner is now playing college basketball and Aldridge has transferred to Bolton. But those guards who located those post threats are back. And Head Coach Bruce Marshall wants them to aim the ball toward the rim.
“There’s one kid taller than me and I’m 5’9,” Marshall acknowledged. “So I will say we’re anywhere from 5-feet tall to 5’10. Our style of play is going to change drastically. I kind of equate it to going from the old style the Grizzlies of grinding it out to more like the Golden State Warriors.
“We’re going to press for 32 minutes a night,” he added. “We’re going to be firing the three and trying to penetrate to get to the rim. Those are the main shots we’re going to be looking for every night — layups and threes.”
Marshall said the new approach starts with is senior trio of Marquisha Sanders, Tracy Clark and Trevona DeSouza. The trio of guards have led the way during the summer and took on Marshall’s challenge of 100 three-pointers a day.
“That will be a ritual everyday at practice,” Marshall said. “It’s not always a stationary three. A lot the time it’s a three on the move.”
Marshall hopes to play five in and five out with improved shooting and a lineup featuring quickness. One player he expects to shine in 2016-17 will be Taylor Payne.
“Taylor “Draymond” Payne could very easily become a Draymond Green type of basketball player,” he said. “She’s strong around the basket but could also step out and play the game from out there. I’m really looking for a lot out of her. She knows what my expectations are for here.”
Other key newcomers will be Kennedy Lamar and Sky Clark. Marshall said all his players will need to step their level of play when January rolls around for District 15-2A play against Ripley, Liberty, Jackson North Side, Covington and the favorites Haywood County featuring standout Jamirah Shutes.
“They’ve got one the best guards in the state,” Marshall noted. “She can really play and they have some good athletes around her. I look for Ripley to be very competitive. Their big girl was only a sophomore last year. She can play. Covington is Covington. They’re going to press you and throw some athletes out there. Glass does a good job of coaching her kids.
“The biggest questions will be the North Side and Liberty teams with Jackson Central-Merry closing down,” he continued. “Those kids who would have returned there, where did they end up going? The league is going to be extremely competitive again this year. It should be interesting.”
Marshall said the scouting report on his team will be they are athletic and undersize. But as his young team gains experience and makes some shots, they can make some noise in league play.
“We have to take some baby steps and get very good at certain aspects of the game before we throw anything else into the mix,’ he concluded. “Especially with us being so young, we have to get really comfortable with what we’re doing early on in the season. Maybe by mid-December I can add another phase and maybe by districts I can really shore up how I want to play toward the end of the season.”