Eric Rogers coached the Thomson girls' junior varsity team two years ago. Now he's moved up to take the helm of the varsity squad.
After the team went 8-16 last year under James Newsome, Coach Rogers brought with him the expectations of a rebuilding year. But it could be a successful one, he said, if his players continue to conform to his coaching style.
Shannon Williams is one of the Lady Dog's better shooters.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
"What I expect is for them to be competitive in every game," he said. "Hard work and hustle are basic things that I expect. As long as we do what we're supposed to, we should be in every game, and that's what I want from them."
Dominant players and size in the middle will be hard to come by though. With the tallest player standing 5-8, wins will probably be a team effort with lots of quickness and bench play.
"It's going to take more than just five," Coach Rogers said. "So there's not going to be anyone outstanding. It's going to take seven, eight, nine, ten players because we don't have what I call dominant size."
Junior Kimberly Johnson will be the Lady Bulldogs' low post player. Coach Rogers said she may not be as tall as some of the people guarding her this season, but that she will most likely be just as strong.
Also the Williams twins, Juniors Shaina and Shannon were described as the best shooters on the team.
As for offensive and defensive systems, those will have to be based on each opponent, Coach Rogers said. The Lady Bulldogs will switch between a match up zone defense and a man-to-man set.
"We're always going to mix it up; we're always going to have the pressure. You want to keep them on their toes," Coach Rogers said. "So there may be some full court man-to-man press or maybe some full court zone press just to slow the ball down."
Some teams that will present problems for the Lady Bulldogs no matter what type of system they play are Hephzibah and Glenn Hills. Both traditionally have strong girls' basketball programs.
Coach Rogers hopes that the squad's three seniors will be the ones to lead by example, especially through those games against tough opponents. Shakia Boutry, Nikita Taylor and Laquida Jones are the only seniors on a junior-heavy roster.
"I want my seniors always to be the leaders regardless of whether they're starting or if they are a sub," Coach Rogers said.
No matter which class they are in, Coach Rogers is working with his players on fundamentals like shooting, rebounding and passing.
"If we know the fundamentals and we hustle and play hard, we'll be in every game," he said. "That's what they're learning...and they're starting to see the changes that I'm putting in, that they actually do work."
The Lady Bulldogs will open their season at Elbert County on Nov. 30. They then travel to Butler on Dec. 3. Thomson's first home game is against Harlem on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.